UGA Fan Day 2016 Proves There’s a New Man in Charge

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Picture Day for the University of Georgia used to be as popular as a regular season game. Players would stand on the practice field in different areas and would sign posters, hats, jerseys, etc.. They would also take as many pictures as fans wanted. Now it seems as if it is just another business meeting and another change occurring.

UGA Fan Day 2016 Proves There’s a New Man in Charge

Fan day now means you get two posters and you have 45 minutes to get as many signatures as possible. Fans only get a quarter of the players they want. Their time is consumed with standing in line.

During Mark Richt’s era, the goal was to have a personable experience. It is a chance for the fans to get excited for the upcoming season and meet the players. For Kirby Smart’s team, however, it wasn’t. There are no personal touches. There are no pictures taken by fans and if they were, the pictures were secretive. The posters are the only things that fans can get signed.

Granted there were some perks. The fans got to see an open practice. They also witnessed Jacob Eason, Nick Chubb and company play for the first time since April. The highlight was seeing Chubb play for the first time since October of last year. Fans witnessed the progress of the team and saw how far they had come since April. It was something different but was it personal enough? Smart allowed Bulldog Nation into the infamous fall camp. By allowing open access the personal interactions with fans and players is pushed away.

Richt would host fan day on the North side of the stadium, near Reed Plaza.

There was no practice, just the fans interacting with players for about two hours. In Richt’s early days, picture day was where fans came to be a part of something. Longtime Bulldog fan Joe Brammer said his favorite memory of picture day is, “In 2003, Michael Johnson was like a celebrity and everyone wanted his signature. He was a great sport about being bombarded by fans. He would get up with each kid and would dance and play with the children.” This was the personalization that gave picture day the recognition it had for years.

Through the 15 years that Richt coached at UGA, the personalization fans grew to love was taken away and now fans are allotted 45 minutes of total interaction.

There seems to be a trend emerging with Smart as head coach at the University of Georgia. He is all business. When it comes to his team and players it seems to be all business as well. The depersonalization of picture day may honestly come down to fans trading a personalized experience for more wins on the field. There seems to be a shift in the atmosphere when it comes to Georgia and its all thanks to the new head ball coach.

This trend wasn’t present during the Richt era. There was a time and place to practice. Then there was a time and place to just be a student. Picture day was the day for players to let loose and enjoy fans. For Coach Smart, if the players are on the field it’s their duty to be football players and be all business.

Since Richt left as head coach, picture day is just one of many changes. Another notable difference is the amount of fans who showed up for the spring scrimmage game. Over 93,000 fans showed support for the football team and new head coach. It seems that was just the beginning of changes in Athens for the football program.

The fans have taken with this alumni turned head coach and it is spreading like wildfire. The ignition for fans is the fire and passion that Coach Smart brought since the day he arrived. The fans are jumping on the Smart train and there seems to be no stopping it.

From getting 93,000 plus fans to come see the G-day game to changing up how Georgia does their annual picture day, Coach Smart has a word that always falls into the picture. That word is winning, and winning seems to be the message for Smart. By allowing fans to get more than just a signature on a poster, it would be a distraction from the zone that he has this team in. Coach Smart uses the football team as his business, and it is his job to turn these players into grown men. It will be interesting to see what change will be next for the program.

Coach Smart is modernizing the University of Georgia into a program that is ready to conquer any obstacles that come their way. He is changing the face of the Bulldogs. Change is here for UGA football, and it is staying.

2 COMMENTS

  1. A new day indeed! You Dawgs are in for something big, big, big with Kirby Smart as your head coach! Not dissing anyone else, but KS coached under the ultimate coach and it seems he is carrying the torch very well. The winning of Rings is serious business and that business is what he knows. True that I am an avid Roll Tide Girl, but I will be watching this program with high interest and only the best in wishes for success for Coach Smart and his Dawgs.

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