Kirby Smart might not have had a ton of success on the field in his first year, but the Georgia coach has positioned the Bulldogs for a strong future.
After dealing with the growing pains of freshman quarterback Jacob Eason, the Bulldogs went 8-5 in Smart’s first season. After landing a historically good recruiting class, Georgia fans have something to be optimistic about.
The Bulldogs potentially bring back 10 starters on defense next season and seven on offense. With running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel coming back, Georgia could have a potent offense. Defensively, Georgia brings back one of the most experienced units in the country as well as a handful of highly rated recruits including 5-star safety Richard LeCounte.
But the offseason in Athens hasn’t been easy. Wide receiver Riley Ridley was arrested on a misdemeanor marijuana charge, and star defensive tackle Trent Thompson withdrew from school to deal with an unspecified medical issue. Smart said Thompson hopefully will be back and ready to play this summer.
Georgia opens its 2017 season against Appalachian State before traveling in Week 2 to Notre Dame.
Smart reportedly earned more than $3.7 million last season, his first as a head coach after spending nine seasons as Nick Saban’s defensive coordinator at Alabama. The Bulldogs open spring practice later in March, and G-Day is scheduled for April. The 2016 spring game brought in more than 93,000 to Sanford Stadium.
In the first edition of the SEC Country coaches approval ratings, Smart had a 79.7 percentage, eighth among SEC coaches.
Vote on Kirby Smart’s approval rating
The SEC Country approval rating poll is designed to give an indication of fan happiness over a period of time.
Our formula is based on the percentage of respondents that select each answer. We multiply that percentage by the following factors: 1 (strongly approve), 0.67 (approve), 0.33 (disapprove) and 0.0 (strongly disapprove). In other words, if 50 percent of respondents select “strongly approve” and 50 percent select “approve,” the formula would be (50 x 1) + (50 x 0.67) = 83.5% approval rating.