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Why Kirby Smart is a Bad Idea

By on December 4th, 2012 in Member Post 19 Comments »

I promised a response to earlier comment and here it is.

Why an advocation for Kirby Smart is an advocation for Gene Chizik 2.o:

I’m going to put this is the simplest terms possible for you…..


Kirby Smart is 36 years old, a beneficiary of one of the strongest recruiting bases and tutors in the country, and he had NEVER BEEN A HEAD COACH!!!

What part of this do you not understand?

Every person I see advocating for Kirby Smart can only talk about how he’d help with recruiting.  That is the only reason anybody can seem to come up with regarding hiring Smart.  That and ‘sticking it to Bammer’. 

Those reason are STUPID. 

Were you not watching the last 4 years?  Gene Chizik was an awesome recruiter, too.  Look where it got us.  Gene Chizik was a great assistant coach and coordinator too.  Look where it got us.  The difference is, between the two is that Chizik had a record:  5-19.  With Smart we don’t know.

To be fair, Kirby Smart could turn out to be the greatest coach in Auburn history.  He could start a dynasty and win 10 national championships.  Or, he could be a complete flop.  Here is the thing:  WE DON’T KNOW!!!!!!  We have no idea how successful he will be because Kirby Smart has never been THE MAN and had to run the show. 

EVERYBODY ELSE we are looking at has some kind of head coaching experience that we can draw upon.  Kirby Smart does not.  Hell, he’s 1 year older than me.  He’s still a kid.  You don’t hand over the reigns of one of the top programs in the country to a guy who has never run a program before, especially when you have 20 other guys interviewing that all have PROVEN records of success as head coaches.  That’s like handing over the controls of a 747 to a guy that has never flown anything bigger than a small single engine when you’ve got 20 other current and qualified 747 captains sitting behind him with experience. 

It’s simple odds, people.  We just flat out DON’T KNOW.  You’re in the gym picking a basketball team.  There are two guys left:  a 5 foot tall asian that you’ve never seen play, and a 6 foot 5 black guy who you have played with before and know is good.  Who do you pick?  The Asian might turn out to be the best basketball player there, and end up torching you, but you have NO IDEA.  You’ve never met the guy.  In that case, I’m going with the odds……I’m picking the brother. 

I am seeing the same short-sightedness from people that I saw all during Chizik’s tenure, and it pains me.  I can totally understand why we made such a bad hire last time, if the people making the decisions are as short-sighted as some of the people I’ve seen on this website.  Do what you can and take emotion out of the equation and look at the resume comparisons.  Kirby Smart is WAY down on the list if you do this.  He’s below pretty much everybody simply because he’s never been a head coach before.  Let him go coach at a CUSA or some other mid-tier school and get some experience before we give him the keys to the kingdom. 

I have to be honest, I could be dead wrong.  He could turn out to be awesome.  Thing is, WE DON’T KNOW!!!!!!!  That is the ultimate reason to not hire him.  You are passing up 10 other guys that all have PROVEN success as a head coach to take a chance on a guy that has NEVER run the show anywhere.  Why in the hell would you want to do that?  We took a chance last time.  I don’t want to take another damn chance.  I want to go with the odds on this one. 

How can you not see that?



  1. 144ethach says:

    There are a dozen criteria for this hire and head coaching experience is just one. Cataclysmic and prolonged lapses of judgement leading to pre-season or mid-season firings has to be another. Smart may take a season or two to get up to speed, but Petrino will definitely leave the program in a cloud of stink three or four years from now. He’s already proven that three other programs.

    • CapnVegetto says:

      You’re not wrong, and I’m not questioning his qualifications for the job at all. He is, in fact, very qualified. What I’m arguing is that in this situation, after taking a shot in the dark on Chizik and failing miserably, I don’t want another unknown. I want a KNOWN QUANTITY. Smart does NOT fit that bill.

  2. uglyjoe says:

    While I don’t share your disdain for Kirby Smart, I don’t completely disagree with your rationale. My only input would be concerning your 747 pilot analogy….please don’t pick the one who is screwing the flight attendant in the lavoratory.

    • CapnVegetto says:

      I won’t if you can explain to me how in any way, shape, or form that affects his ability to fly the airplane.

      Bro, I’m an airline pilot for a living, and I can tell you that if you’ve flown on any airline in your life, there is probably a better than 70% chance that one of the guys up front has at some point or is plowing a flight attendant. I’ve been doing this for a living for 12+ years, and believe me, a lot of the stories are true.

      If what you just said mattered, there would be plane crashes once a month. Fact is, it doesn’t, in both aspects of our discussion.

      • uglyjoe says:

        It most likely doesnt affect his ability to fly the plane. However, he is not just the pilot. He is the CEO and public face of the airline, and everybody knows he screws the flight attendant.

        This is about character and morals, and I think it is an important prerequisite for the job. I dont fault you for your opinion, but there are other opinions besides yours that might be valid.

  3. uglyjoe says:

    And yes, I am a moron who believes in the Auburn Creed.

  4. TigerintheHass TigerintheHass says:

    I hear you; it’s a gamble no matter what we do. Petrino is as much of a gamble, but for different reasons. Malzahn is a gamble in his own right. It’s a tough call – one I’m glad I don’t have to make. I don’t know anything about Smart’s character, leadership ability, organizational skills, etc., but I do know what Saban has accomplished with him. That said, I’m glad I don’t have to make this call.

    • CapnVegetto says:

      Good point. But if my butt were on the line, I’d be going with the biggest name known quantity I could find. Smart isn’t that. He’s a much bigger risk than say, Malzhan or Patterson. MUCH bigger.

  5. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    I’m just going out on a limb and guessing that you don’t do well with the unknown. You like schedules and routines and have disdain for surprises. And to you, a Kirby Smart hire is just one big fat surprise party with a clown (or what-have-you) jumping out of the middle of a cake.

    Your biggest argument against Kirby Smart is that ‘We Just Don’t Know’. Well, that applies to Bobby Petrino too. We know that he was able to win at his previous stops, but he was largely unfettered and always did something unsavory. For him to get a job (your words are coming up), there would have to be many ‘good behavior’ clauses. Translation: Bobby would be tied down, the exact opposite of unfettered. Do we know how Bobby Petrino would function under these new sanctions? Nope. I even asked my Magic 8 ball, it said, “Concentrate and ask again”…’s a patronizing 8 ball, but that’s not my fault……

    • CapnVegetto says:

      You’re absolutely right TOTM. I fly airplanes for a living, and it’s kind of hard wired into my pea brain. I HATE the unknown. I play the odds. I want to have a plan, a backup plan, and a plan in case the backup plan and the main plan fail, and maybe even a backup plan for the other plans and all plans for plans in the universe. I see the world in numbers. I’m a logical person, though I rarely come off as such on this site.

      When it comes to Smart, after my brain runs the numbers, Petrino’s number comes out considerably higher than Smart’s. Ask yourself this: You say that Petrino would be extremely tethered due to his past behaviors. Well, with a brand new, 36 year old, unproven head coach showing up that has never run a program before, how well do you think he is going to handle the ‘suggestions’ coming at him from all directions of the good ol’ boys and the athletic department clowns? Do you really think it’d be any different with Smart? Only difference is he doesn’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to refuting what they say with experience. Petrino does.

      Anyway, I think Jacobs is on a short leash here anyway. I think Petrino would get at least enough line to start winning, and the more he wins, the more power he will get, and that is assuming what you are saying happens.

      Petrino is still the better choice.

      • Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

        See, I would take Kirby Smart over Petrino. I would take Kirby Smart over Gus Malzahn. That’s just me. If I had my choice (and I don’t; I don’t even have Bo on speed dial…and shockingly, the Committee has not asked me for my opinion. Tis a pity), I would go for David Shaw…..

  6. chpub2000 says:

    I see your point exactly, and you are right that Smart could very well turn out just like Chizik. It happens, it happens all the time in big time sports. Stud, successful assistant coaches that express interest in one day becoming a head coach, attend different workshops, fights hard to get hired at places where they can further their experience to one day reach that goal of being a head coach. Several of the successful ones as in Mark Richt at Georgia, Charlie Strong at Louisville, Muschamp at Florida, Chip Kelley at Oregon and the list goes on and on and on. We all know that at one time or another that all great HC’s were AC’s for many years, I know of no HC of any major sprts program where a HC was given the job without any ACing experience. I didn’t check my facts there, but just common sense told me its a true statement but may be wrong.
    The same also goes for your argument, that plenty of great, talented, and apparently ready AC’s was given a position of HC and failed, or did not perform as well as expected. Examples are Joker Phillips at Kentucky, Frank Spaziani at BC, Mike Stoops at Arizona, Mike Shula at Alabama, etc the list could go on and on and on. Now granted every coaching position has their own set of circumstances to deal with either good or bad. I do think a good coach will win every where he has worked at, sometimes the results may not show up as gaudy numbers in the win-loss column, but in the recruiting, player development, offensive, defensive and special team stats under a good coach you will see a dramatic improvement fairly quickly within the first 2 years at least, and followed by greatly improved win-loss record withing 3-5 years. that was my biggest issue with Gene Chizik, was at Iowa State there was absolutely no improvement in that program from when he got there to when he left. In fact you can hear from Iowa State fans, who will say he actually left the program in worse shape than when he got there. I know Chizik said it was a very bad situation he inherited there, and he strongly believed that he was on the cusp of seeing big positive results in that program, that he had finally gotten the players in place to run his style of football. Well he was saying the same things about Auburn, he said he inherited a somewhat depleted cupboard of players in key positions, but was able to bring in some JUCO players to fill those needs and win a national championship, and also buy the time to let his recruits get bigger, stronger, faster and better. Well BS, as a human, it is very hard to accept when you have failed at something, especially something that you worked very hard to get. Chizik was a very good AC, but is not a good HC, he has enough money that he can take an ACing gig anywhere in the country, and live easy on for the rest of his life,due to the winfall from his failure at Auburn. Rewarding someone to fail, rewarding someone very, very well to fail, just doesn’t seem right at all. Especially when soo many people are struggling to just provide food and heat for their families. So my point is, its not so much that Gene Chizik failed, its how did he get the position to begin with? Was he just an amazing interview?? Cause he is a very likeable guy, I mean, I wish him the best of luck, cause he does seem to genuinely seem like a great guy, I wanted him to be successful, because he seemed like such a good guy. Now is he man good enough of a man, to get a job ASAP and save AU some money? Its been rumored that he’s being looked at as a great fit for the DC job at USC. How could a good man, and a great AC that’s UN-employed ever turn down such an opportunity to not throw his hat in the ring for the coveted USC DC job? Can you think of any AC with a better resume’ if he got the job and succeeded at USC, than Gene Chizik? i mean a un defeated season at Auburn, a national championship at Texas, then success at USC??? Who wouldn’t take a chance on him? Would he be a better head coach in say 5 years? I have no clue! That is up to the AD, that get paid very well to make decisions like that, its not up to us fans. We can fill in as many polls as we want, voice our opinion all over the place, hell even at the airport when the new head coach puts he feet on the ground. but it won’t change one thing. Thats all in the hands of the AD Jay Jacobs, the man that hired Gene Chizik, that approved his raise and buy-out. The man that during his tenure has over seen all of AU’s sports go in a steady decline. Yet somehow, some way he’s in Nashville, along with Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Mac Crawford interviewing candidates for the new Auburn Head Football Coach, to replace and rebuild what Gene Chizik, the man Jay Jacobs hired and showed so much confidence for 4 yrs ago, has left behind for the new head coach to clean up, with the damage costing Auburn at the very least $11.3 million dollars already with no telling how much more to come. Especially if AU is hit with any type of sanctions that could ban AU from Bowl games, TV, Championship games, even if its just recruits. We as fans, have no idea what the damage is at Auburn, Jay Jacobs most certainly does. I hope that one of the reasons why the President hasn’t fired JJ is because the damage really isn’t any beyond what we’ve all seen on the field, because thats bad enough to stomach, but to think that Auburn has cheated to put that type of performance on the field is really mind boggling in today’s competitve game.
    Which brings me Captain to my original point, that I so very long windily went around. As much as it hurts to think this, you have to believe in the people that are going to hand over their recommendation to the President are going to select the best man for the job. I strongly believe and admire Pat Sullivan and Bo Jackson,and have for most of my life. I was just a kid when Pat Sullivan had his insurance office right in front of where my father worked at in Mountain Brook, AL. He was very nice back then , and very successful at building his insurance building. My father, who spent 40 yrs as a public servant, has always said that Pat Sullivan is a good man, that has qualities that most men don’t posses, it hasn’t surprised my father one bit to follow Pat Sullivan in his career and see him be successful as a man in all phases of his life.With probably his biggest victory being his battle with cancer, and how he dealt with that, cause for awhile there it didn’t look to good for Pat, but you would never know by hearing or reading anything from him. I remember reading about Bo Jackson and hearing about how much talent he had, but he had a tendency to make some poor choices when he was growing up. Thankfully nothing too bad. We all read about how much Bo loved his Mother, and how much of a lady she was, and how she filled the gaps in for as a father to Bo the best she could until Auburn took over that roll. We’ve all heard how much Bo taught Pat Dye, not only as a coach but as a man. How they’ve remained friends over all these years. Look at how many great athletes that had the privilege to play either with or against Bo, say how great of an athlete and competitor he was, and not only that, but over all a great man. I don’t know too much about Mac Crawford, the little I’ve read recently, but you look at his resume’ as a businessman and there is no denying how successful he has been, and has leadership qualities that most men don’t. These three men represent the greatest examples of a successful Auburn student/Athlete. IMHO there is no doubt at all how much they respect and love Auburn University. That these 3 great men, put together will in fact attract and give their recommendation over to the President, a man that is absolutely the best possible candidate available, to be the most successful Auburn Head Football coach ever. I have no doubts about this one bit. And because of that, I am not worried about the next Auburn football Coach. I certainly trust Pat, Bo’s and Mac’s opinion more than any Auburn Fan. No dis respect intended, we are all having these little debates because we all love Auburn, and hate to see it in the situation its in now. I have to believe that Pat, Bo and Mac hate it more than we do, they have more time, sweat, and energy, devoted to Auburn University. We are very lucky to have these three men in the position they are in right now. Three very successful and no doubt busy men, that have put all aside to come and help Auburn when Auburn asked them for help.They know where they owe a lot of their success too, and equally I trust they know how to bring success here.
    Now to all of those that have hinted about these men being used as puppets for JJ and whomever else. Well I personally don’t think for one minute these 3 men would be used like that. And if it ever came out that they were used as puppets, then I’ve been a fool for all my life for supporting Auburn. We all love to express our opinions, and we are human, we to some extent will believe in conspiracy theories or corruption at any level. But can we once just believe that three well actually four men are putting aside all their differences, and unifying in their devotion to the one thing they share in common, that has helped shape, and mold them all to be successful men. To show their love and devotion back, by giving their very best effort in hiring the best choice at Auburn University. If they are indeed doing that, who can argue against it??? Are any of us more qualified than they are??
    War Eagle!!!!

    • Col.Angus Col.Angus says:

      Any thoughts on religion? The Middle East? The economy?

      I think you have Auburn covered for sure.

  7. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    But what if he is a Will Muschamp 2.0?


  8. Col.Angus Col.Angus says:

    Like a signal flair on a moonless night…you sure get a lot of attention on your posts Cap’n.
    I can’t say I disagree with your opinion on Smart, I just have a different rationale. As I see it, Smart works for UBER Control freak and defensive genius Nick Saban. I have no doubt that while Saban is “in charge” of the defense, he is doing EXACTLY what Nick Saban tells him to do. Its Nicks scheme, its Nicks strategy and its Nicks plan…from practice to post game. Of that I have no doubt. If this was Smart’s third successful stop as a DC….ala Muschamp….I would be a lot more comfortable with him. But this is Smarts only tour of duty and as of yet has not demonstrated that he is anything more than Sabans recruiter for Georgia and East Alabama. He may have been steadfastly learning at the feet of “The Great One”, and chomping at the bit to show he just isn’t Sabans glorified water boy….but we don’t know that, and chances are he is where he is, for as long as he has BECAUSE he knows he isn’t Saban 2.0. And I would agree we need a COACH, not another recruiter.

    That being said I don’t think Petrino is a good fit for PSYCHOLOGICAL reasons, not just ethical. You see, as you have said many times, if Petrino is hired they might as well call him Gimp in a box, he’ll be so bound and gagged by restrictions, leashes and stipulations. Now we all know Petrino has an ENORMOUS ego, and he isn’t going to accept that…not for long anyway. For that very reason, as soon as he hits campus, his MO will be to keep his head down, keep it clean, get Auburn competitive…….and then leave for the next big job. Probably in 2 years. If we don’t pay him a compeitive wage, we won’t be able to rationalize a big buyout for him, so he will walk as soon as he can. AND IF we don’t put restrictions on him and give him a big salary with a huge buyout, we are pretty much telling him that despite what everbody else says, winning is all that matters and that his behavior is acceptable. If that is the case, he will likely do something to embarass himself and the university within four years. Either way it likely won’t turn out well.

    And I really don’t want anything to do with Malzahn.

    I’ll support whoever we hire but I am probably not going to be happy with whoever it is unless its Patterson, Peterson or Mora.

    • Col.Angus Col.Angus says:

      Meant to say SMART is in charge of the defense.

    • Col.Angus Col.Angus says:

      Well that was much ado about nothing.

      All that angst and it was Malzahn all the time. I do think I would rather have Petrino than Malzahn. I guess we’ll never know. Maybe Bobby will go to Southern Miss and the like and we can bring him in after Gus takes the pipe in 2 years.

  9. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..I can tell you why Smart wasn’t going get it. Jay and Jay have to win next year, or there will be natives at the castle walls with pitchforks and torches. Another 4-8 or worse season, and more heads were going to roll. Smart would have a MAJOR ground-up building project to get a 3-4 defense going with Auburn’s personnel, and we’d take some big lumps early.

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      …..Malzhan has a great shot at winning immediately. Even Petrino had to recruit to his style offensively. He
      made a passable quarterback out of Casey Dick in his first season at Arkansas, but that team ultimately went 5-7, 2-6 in the SEC. If Jay Jacobs had hired Bobby P, had a huge chunk of the fanbase withhold support, AND Petrino went 5-7 in 2013, he’d be in dire trouble.

      …..Jay Jacobs and Jay Gogue needed a guy who had the best shot to win NOW.