Perhaps the biggest change from Mark Richt to Kirby Smart for Georgia is the way the latter talks about his players. Richt would critique them behind closed doors, then paint a rosy picture to the cameras. Smart critiques them to their faces, and then tells the media the same thing.
“I think honesty is the best policy,” Smart told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “If you ask me how a player is doing, I think I’ll tell you how he’s doing and I’ll tell him the same. That’s kind of my policy on how they’re doing. I don’t think it’s ever good to be openly critical of a college athlete. I think it’s good to be honest, though, if they’re not performing to the standard that I think they should.
“But I’m always open and honest with our kids. If any of them want to know why they’re not playing, they can come talk to me and we talk about it. We have a good relationship.”
The line between honesty and open criticism can be a tight one. Which makes it a good thing Smart spent his formative years learning under the master: Nick Saban.
And I believe that coach Smart is doing that because that’s probably the only way he knows,” Georgia defensive back and Alabama transfer Maurice Smith said. “It’s not such a bad thing. I think he does it just to let people know that, Hey this guy is a lot better than this, or however he says it, I don’t think it’s personal, I think he’s doing it for the best for the player.”
Summarized Smart: “I just think when you’re honest with players, they trust you more. I would rather just tell them exactly like I feel.”