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Georgia should be patient with Kirby Smart during his rebuild

7-5 seasons aren’t always fun, but for a first year (ever) head coach in the Southeastern Conference, it makes for a far better foundation to build on than a losing record. 

Rebuilding is a difficult process, especially when it’s done the right way.

Georgia’s first year head coach Kirby Smart wrapped up his first ever season as a head football coach with a 7-5 record, and expectantly it’s not exactly what Bulldogs fans were hoping for.

Tough luck, because sometimes that’s what rebuilding looks like… and a rebuild is exactly what UGA implied it wanted when it parted ways with Mark Richt.

In 2007, his first season at Alabama, Nick Saban went 6-6, improving to 7-6 with an Independence Bowl win over Colorado. He had replaced Mike Shula who had gone 6-6 after a 10-2 Cotton Bowl championship season. Bama was patient with Saban, and he was far from a first year coach, having won a BCS title only four years prior to taking over the Tide. I’d say that patience paid off.

It’s one season folks. The Bulldogs are going bowling, and are assured a winning season.

Sure, there’s some bad things to dwell on. 2016 was the first season in Georgia history that the Bulldogs lost to Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida, and Georgia Tech in the same season. Not great, but much like his mentor Nick Saban, Smart isn’t making any excuses.

“That game was kind of indicative of our season… a little good here, a little bad there, but we don’t play with enough consistency yet,” Smart said after Saturday’s loss to Georgia Tech. “You’ve got to play each play like it’s got a history and life of its own. And we didn’t do that today.We as coaches have to do a better job, and that starts with me. I’m the leader of the organization. And I’m the one held responsible for it.”

That’s what you should want to hear from a head coach when things aren’t going well. Judge him after he has plenty of time to fix the bad you saw in 2016, but a winning season in the first year of a major conference rebuild isn’t a given, and should be respected. You can’t “RA RA” and chant “SEC, SEC, SEC” in the good times, and then not respect the difficulties of playing among the big boys when things aren’t ideal.

Georgia fans seem to always place a high value on recruiting, and Smart really hasn’t even gotten started with that process. You can’t say that Richt’s recruits weren’t good enough, then blame Kirby Smart 100 percent for their performance.

If over the next two season Kirby Smart falls on his face, much like Will Muschamp did at Florida and Charlie Strong did at Texas, then bring on the tar and feathers. For the time being, however, Georgia is getting to remodel its house and still live in it.

Mark Richt went 8-3 in his first regular season in Athens, then won 10 plus games in six of the next seven years… and that’s the guy UGA just fired. So if you’re complaining about the results of the rebuild you had so desperately asked for, then maybe you should make up your mind.

Ray Goff went 6-5 in his first season, and Jim Donnan went 5-6. The legendary Vince Dooley went 6-2-1 in his first regular season in Athens.

Kirby Smart has never been the head coach of a college football team in his entire career, and he just had a winning season with a true freshman quarterback in the SEC, and could very well win another game after Christmas.

He may become a complete flop, and be fired by the end of the 2018 season, but complaining or being worried about a 7-5 inaugural campaign by a first year head coach in the SEC is just ridiculous.

 

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Blake Silvers is an editor at the Rome News-Tribune, and a contributor at Fansided. His work frequently appears on FoxSports.com, and he has also written for Bleacher Report in the past.