The Georgia Bulldogs headlined the first SEC Media Days held outside of Hoover, Alabama for the first time since 1985. Head Coach Kirby Smart brought defensive back J.R. Reed, wide receiver Terry Godwin II and defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter to the College Football Hall of Fame in downtown Atlanta to promote the fact the ‘Dawgs have put the 26-23 loss in the 2018 National Championship game behind them and expect to have a stronger 2018 campaign.
“We watched it and evaluated it as a staff afterwards,” Smart said Tuesday. “Obviously I see it on replays and different ESPN highlights. I got to watch it early with the “Get Up!” With Mike Greenberg. I thought they might open with the SEC Championship, but of course not. That’s part of it. I think we embrace that as coaches. I think that’s something that you guys think about a lot, but not really us. We’re on to the next year. We are on to the new recruit. We’re on to the next strategy, whether tactical, medical or physical.”
Smart also explained how pressure is a positive for his football team in that; pressure is not something to be afraid of, but everyone in the program should embrace difficulties and problems that stem from dealing with pressure.
“This season for us is going to be simple: It’s going to be the measure of potential versus effectiveness,” Smart explained. “And when I say that, a lot of people are like, yeah, every team has a certain amount of potential. I think potential is dormant ability. And I think effectiveness is what we get out of our potential. And we talk to our players all of the time, the pressure is really a privilege. You should feel privileged to have pressure to win games, to have expectations. Everybody is talking about the expectations. Last year this time, they were talking about the same expectations for the University of Georgia. I went back and reviewed my notes for this event, and it was the same thing. Georgia is expected to do this, to win the east, to win championships.”
An SEC Media Days without controversy is usually quite stale. Spices were added to the preseason party. In December, Alabama’s former Defensive Coordinator, Jeremy Pruitt, became the Head Coach for the Tennessee Volunteers. Tuesday, Pruitt was on the firing line because former Georgia Bulldog quarterback Aaron Murray said Pruitt “doesn’t have the personality to lead a program, saying that his career arc would paint a different picture.”
“I don’t know if his personality is fit to be a head coach,” Murray told 102.5 The Game during a radio interview on Tuesday. “As a head coach, there’s so many things that go into it. It’s not just going out there and coaching. You have to deal with front office. You’ve got to go talk with the president of the university. You have to deal with boosters. You have to deal with the offense, the defense. It’s not just going in there … and scheming up.”
ESPN analyst and former Georgia Bulldog, David Pollack, doubled down on Murray’s comments.
“The stories that I have heard and some of y’all have heard that came out of Athens – that are true, (from) coaches that were on the staff, some of the things Jeremy Pruitt did to Mark Richt, some coaches would tell you are the most disrespectful, most crazy things they heard,” Pollack said Wednesday morning on SEC Now. “So, I’ll be curious to watch Jeremy Pruitt as he evolves with this relationship with Phillip Fulmer because Jeremy Pruitt did a good job when he was with Nick Saban — because he knew where he stood. He did a good job with Jimbo Fisher — they let you know where you stand. The hierarchy was very clear. How does he evolve as a head coach?”
Pruitt responded Wednesday by saying, “Fifteen years ago I was a kindergarten teacher and now I’m the head coach at Tennessee. You probably don’t make that ascension without knowing how to treat people.”
Tennessee and Georgia will face off at Sanford Stadium in Athens on Saturday, September 29th.
Lastly, Alabama Crimson Tide Head Coach and six-time national champion, Nick Saban was reflective during his turn at the podium. His coaching staff has six new coaches and has to deal with the loss of twelve key players drafted from last year’s National Championship team.
“And with six new coaches this year, a new offensive coordinator, new defensive coordinator, new special teams coordinator, I am really pleased with the transition,” Saban said. “The players have sort of responded from relationship standpoint with all of those coaches, how those coaches have done a very good job of buying into the things that we want to do and how we want to do them. The new energy and enthusiasm and ideas that they brought to the organization I think are going to be a long-term positive.”
Saban did not declare a starter between national title hero Tua Tagovailoa or Jalen Hurts against Louisville September 1.