There was an interesting article on The Bleacher Report by one of their SEC beat writers, Barrett Sallee. The writer interviewed former Georgia head football coach Jim Donnan. Sallee asked Donnan who still lives in Athens if he gave new coach Kirby Smart any advice. Here is his response.
"The one thing that I told him was that the biggest mistake that I made my first year was that I spent way too much time with the alumni clubs speaking and trying to promote the program rather than being with the players. I felt like I spent enough time with the players, but still, looking at the relationships the first year compared to the second year was night and day."
It appears Smart took Donnan's advice to heart.
As Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald pointed out in March, Smart scaled back his alumni club speaking events from where the schedule sent former head coach Mark Richt. That's not a slight against the alumni who helped and continue to help build the program. It's a matter of putting the current team first while also balancing the responsibilities that head coaches have to ensure a bright future.
"I think I went to 57 of them my first year—either civic clubs or booster clubs or all of that," Donnan said. "You cut that in half or a fourth, and you can spend that much more time with your players. That's the real key. Not only the players, but the families. I think it's great that he invited some players' families over to a couple of the scrimmages this year early because you have to get to know them, too."
Simply doesn’t matter what sport or what level, it starts and ends with relationships.