When he ultimately thinks about what convinced him to help write a book about his 2021 team, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart comes back to those who invested — and continue to invest — so much. After the Bulldogs won their first title in 41 years, Smart was swayed by co-author and UGA athletics historian Loran Smith to take some time out for the book.
Though Smart took some convincing. He explained as much on 92.9 The Game in Atlanta.
“My counterpart, Loran, came to me and proposed that we do a book. And of course my immediate answer was ‘No way. I don’t have time, I can’t do it.’ And I felt like, several people reached out, I felt like I owed the state of Georgia, the UGA fanbase — and that’s really what it’s about. Giving the Georgia fans, the Georgia people who have starved so long for another championship, 41 years later a chance to look inside out. And I said, ‘I’ll only do it if you include tons of people that had something to do with it.’ And so we dove in and thought about a way to include people and the people in the organization.”
Some of the names Smart rattled off included assistant coaches and staffers like Glenn Schumann, Dan Lanning and Jonas Jennings along with Ron Courson, an associate athletic director for sports medicine.
He and Smith also managed to include a bevy of players in the book, something Smart was happy to do.
“We wanted to have insights from key players and key people and not just be about myself or Mary Beth or our family. So, you tell the story of the season, but within that you tell the story of each key player in the games. And I thought that was really cool, to put the — they call them ‘vignettes’ — within the game-by-game chronology,” Smart said.
Smart, despite his reticence, allowed Smith to sic a photographer on him during the stretch run of the 2021 National Championship season.
It’s a decision that paid off big time, as he raved about the photography in the book.
“So, Loran came and said, ‘Hey, can I have somebody travel with us down the stretch run? If we win this thing, it’s going to be really special.’ And I was like, ‘Ah, I don’t want another photographer. I don’t want more people around.’ And sure enough, he had someone with us the entire way. And just the photography alone is amazing. Because it came from the inside, in the locker room and everything else,” Smart said.
After the trophy was hoisted, Smart was moving on to the 2022 season. But Smith wanted to rehash what had happened. Smart wasn’t going to take away from his pursuit of another national title — the book clearly didn’t — and had Smith tag along on a number of flights for speaking engagements and the like.
On the plane, Smart and Smith would just go back through the season, game-by-game.
“And we have game notes. We have things we talked about during the season. We had team meetings. So I used those to help generate thoughts about each of those games, looking back. And some of our GAs gathered information of speeches and different things I used during that week,” Smart said. “So those would kind of trigger stuff within those games. And Loran took all that down and then of course we had coaches talk a lot about those games with Loran. Because we wanted to give the insight of ‘Hey, what was the difference in this game? What was the thoughts and strategy throughout the game?’”
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