ATLANTA – The hire of Kirby Smart as the new head football coach at Georgia filled Dawg fans with plenty of questions this week: Is this the job for a first-time head coach? Does the Saban pedigree mean we become Alabama East? Can he convince Jacob Eason to keep his commitment to Athens?
For me, there was just one question: What kind of name is Kirby?
Seriously, how many guys do you know with that name?
According to data from the Social Security Administration, Kirby was the 2,375th most popular name for babies in 2015. Names that were just slightly more popular include Zeth (that’s “Seth” with a Z), Pieter (that’s “Peter” with an I) and Kip (that’s, well, Kip).
It got me to thinking, the jury may be out on Kirby Smart as a head coach, but is it possible he’s already achieved status as the greatest “Kirby” of all-time? Surely there’s not much competition.
So I did some digging and found that, while he may not yet be the greatest, Kirby Smart is up there and with a good run in Athens, could eventually ascend to the top spot.
Here now is my Top 5 list of greatest figures named “Kirby”.
5) Kirby Puckett
He’s a first ballot Baseball Hall of Famer. Ten time all-star. Had a nice career winning two World Series in Minnesota. Trouble is, the wounds are still fresh from 1991. Kirby Puckett single-handedly cost the Braves a shot at that first World Series with his Game 6
heroics antics. That’s not cool. He wouldn’t be anywhere close to this list if there were more people of merit named Kirby. Which leads us to…
4) Kirby the Cream Puff
So this list isn’t really limited to “people”, per se. Kirby the Cream Puff was a hit for Nintendo and Game Boy in the early 90s. I’m not really sure what he did – I was more of a Madden guy – but he never took Charlie Leibrandt deep, so that’s good enough for me to put him at number four.
3) Kierin Kirby
Back in 1990, dance clubs and radio stations put the song “Groove is in the Heart” into heavy rotation. It was a catchy number with a catchy video by a band that would soon fade away into one-hit wonder oblivion. That band: Deee-Lite. Lead vocals: Lady Miss Kier. Her birth name: Kierin Kirby. (Last names count, right?)
2) Kirby Smart
He’s been the hot young assistant coach in college football for the better part of a decade, helping Alabama to three national championships. Now he’s returning home to his alma mater, with the promise of restoring the Dawgs to national glory. He’s got a lot going for him, but not as much as…
1) Bruno Kirby
His impressive film resume includes roles in “When Harry Met Sally…”, “Good Morning, Vietnam”, “The Godfather Part II” and “Donnie Brasco”, but it was his role as the sporting goods salesman Ed in “City Slickers” that catapults him to the top of the list.
Imagine being cast in a supporting role in what AFI ranks as one of the Top 100 comedies in film history and actually stealing the movie from the star Billy Crystal. That’s what Bruno Kirby did with his “My Best Day” monologue. Also, he wore a mustache better than anyone this side of Tom Selleck.
Hopefully we can re-stack this list in a couple years when Georgia’s celebrating another national title. Or, maybe more likely, when Deee-Lite scores that follow up hit?