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Kirby Smart Faces His Biggest Post Championship Test: Monken Out, Bobo in as OC

Kirby Smart Faces His Biggest Test

Kirby Smart faces his biggest post-championship test: replacing Todd Monken. The Baltimore Ravens announced Tuesday that they hired Todd Monken as their new offensive coordinator.  Head coach John Harbaugh interviewed 14 candidates before settling on Monken. In a statement released on Twitter, Harbaugh was quick to praise Monken’s dynamic offenses at Georgia and his other previous stops. “He has a proven track record for designing and teaching offensive systems that allow players to succeed at the highest level.”

Georgia’s 2022 offense was near the top in every offensive statistical category: Total Offense (5th), Points per Game (4th), and Yards Per Play (2nd). Smart quickly responded with many early reports saying he will elevate offensive analyst Mike Bobo to OC. This is Bobo’s second go-round as offensive coordinator for Georgia. He first served under Mark Richt from 2007-2014. While the move may come as a shock to some Georgia fans, Smart seemed ready and prepared for the move.

Kirby Smart Faces His Biggest Post Championship Test

Monken Finds Greener Grass 

Georgia’s assistants don’t often get a chance to talk to the media. The CFB Playoffs were a rare instance that Monken was able to speak with reporters. He dismissed rumors about his interest in pursuing other jobs in college and the NFL. Monken’s words seemed to help put Georgia fans’ minds at ease. “When you have a good job and they pay me a lot of money, you have to be careful. The grass isn’t always greener, and money isn’t everything,” he said. Monken was a top candidate last off-season when Brian Kelly tried to bring him to LSU to be his new OC.

Monken was given full control of Georiga’s offense and paid well by the university. He was believed to be the highest-paid assistant coach in college football, with estimates of his salary in 2022 being north of two million dollars. Money wasn’t everything though. Monken also spoke about how important winning was to him. “Now, I value getting paid. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t do this for nothing, but the reality is you have to be careful because your happiness is in winning. It’s about winning. It’s the fight song in the locker room. That’s what it’s about.” Whether it was money or focusing on coaching instead of recruiting, Monken leaves Georgia as one of its most successful offensive coordinators. Smart seemed prepared for this move.

Smart’s Lessons Learned 

Smart’s blueprint for success has its roots in Tuscaloosa. He watched and learned from Nick Saban about having to replace his assistants and coordinators as his teams won and competed for national championships. This change mirrors what Saban has been doing at Alabama. He has an impressive room of analysts or as it may be better known “Nick Saban’s Finishing School for Wayward Coaches” that he has used to fill openings in his staff as they have come about. Lane Kiffin, Steve Sarkisian, and Mike Locksley all spent time as analysts before being tapped as the Tide’s coordinator. Bobo came in at Georgia as an analyst for the 2022 season after his stint as offensive coordinator at Auburn. Smart is hoping to strike lightning again by promoting from within.

Smart previously promoted Will Muschamp from his analyst position to co-defensive coordinator when Dan Lanning left to be the head coach at Oregon. Muschamp came to Georgia as a defensive analyst after being fired from South Carolina in 2021. Strangely enough, Bobo was Muschamp’s coordinator during his final season in Columbia. Bringing in Muschamp and Bobo extend beyond the two’s coaching credentials. The three were teammates at Georgia and have remained friends after their playing days came to an end.

Bobo: More Than A Familiar Face 

Bulldog fans can expect more than a familiar face in Bobo. Bobo has a deep connection to the program, playing quarterback from 1994-1997 and coaching for more than 14 years in Athens. He had great success as a Georgia coach, developing quarterback Aaron Murray and Matthew Stafford. Statistically, he led explosive offenses with four of Georgia’s top five yards per game averages happening under his watch. Murray is now an analyst on ESPN and SiriusXM was sad to see Monken leave but excited to see Bobo back in Athens.

The hiring of Bobo though raises a few questions from Georgia fans. Bobo has not found the same success away from Athens as a head coach at Colorado State and two short stints as offensive coordinator at two of Georgia’s rivals. In Bobo’s five seasons in Fort Collins, his team never had a better record than 7-6. They failed to win more than five games in his final two seasons. His time at South Carolina and Auburn came in less than ideal-circumstances. Both of the head coaches at the time were on the hot seat and his offenses didn’t set the world on fire. The Gamecocks were 10th in 2020 and Auburn’s offense ranked 11th in 2021. Bulldog fans are hoping he can refind some of that magic.

Georgia’s 2023 Outlook

Bobo spent the last year working closely with Monken game planning and scheming their way to a second straight national championship. The offense then should be able to retain its identity with Bobo’s own flavor added in. Georgia replaces Stetson Bennett but has one four-star and two five-star talents ready to replace him. Bobo has the talent in place to once again find success for the Bulldogs.

Kirby Smart Faces His Biggest Test

Photo courtesy: Joshua L. Jones / USA TODAY NETWORK


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