Report: Georgia Spent $422K in 13 Days on Chartered Flights for CFB Recruiting

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMay 15, 2020

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart talks to reporters during a Sugar Bowl NCAA college news conference in New Orleans, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019. Georgia plays Baylor on New Year's Day. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

Perhaps no college football program in America has recruited better than Georgia since Kirby Smart took over as head coach in 2016, but competing and winning on the recruiting trail has been a costly endeavor.

According to Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, documents submitted to the AJC by the University of Georgia show that the school spent $422,047.07 on 42 chartered airplane trips in December 2019 for Smart and his staff to recruit.

Towers added that Georgia paid for 74 chartered flights for Georgia coaches from September to mid-December 2019 at a total cost of $696,269.99.

Although Georgia's efforts have been pricey, they have paid off in the form of some of the top recruiting classes in the nation during Smart's tenure.

According to 247Sports, the Bulldogs had the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation for both 2020 and 2018, No. 2 in 2019 and No. 3 in 2017.

Towers noted that the cost of the flights largely had to do with the fact that Smart and Co. pursued players from all across the country. During the 13-day recruiting trip in December, Bulldogs coaches went to 23 different cities outside the state of Georgia.

In terms of the 2020 recruiting class, 16 of the 25 players who signed letters of intent to play at Georgia reside outside the Peach State.

Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity suggested he has no qualms about what it cost to land the best of the best on the recruiting trail: "You want a return on your investment, right? This is just part of what we do to help Kirby get the job done at UGA. [Recruiting travel is] one of many segments that are important to facilitating our program. It illustrates our commitment to Kirby to achieve our mutual goals."

After a successful run as the defensive coordinator at Alabama from 2008-15, Smart was hired to replace Mark Richt as the head coach at Georgia in 2016.

In his four seasons with the Bulldogs, Smart has gone 44-12 with three trips to the SEC Championship Game, one of which Georgia won. Georgia has also won a Rose Bowl and a Sugar Bowl under Smart, and the Bulldogs reached the College Football Playoff National Championship Game in 2017, where they lost to Alabama.

While Georgia has yet to win it all with Smart leading the way, it has consistently been among the top teams in the nation for the past three seasons, and his recruiting has a lot to do with it.