As Georgia fans prepare for the Kirby Smart era to begin, let’s take a look at the Smart resume.
Like many successful coaches, Smart is the son of a coach. Sonny Smart, who coached his son at Bainbridge High School, remarked to AL.com in 2009:
“It was obvious at a young age that Kirby was a gifted athlete,” his father said. “But he had a gift at a young age of understanding concepts of what was going on, and not just in football. …
“There were times when he was a youngster, he’d sit with his mother and watch a game. We’d come home and he’d ask me questions. He had more understanding of what was happening than some of the guys I had out there playing, and he was 12 or 13 years old.”
At UGA the younger Smart has an outstanding career . He was a four-year letterman as a defensive back and a first-team All-SEC selection as a senior. Finishing his career with 13 interceptions, which ranks fourth all-time at Georgia, he led UGA with six interceptions in 1997 and five the following year. He also was a four-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll. Smart graduated in 1999 with a finance degree. He was undrafted in his NFL Draft and signed a free agent contract with the Indianapolis Colts but was cut before the season began.
Kirby accepted a job with Valdosta State after being invited by Will Muschamp in 2000 and became defensive coordinator there in 2001. He has served as an administrative assistant at Georgia in 1999 after being cut by the Colts.
After leaving Valdosta State, Mr Smart made stops at Florida State, LSU and Georgia (2005 – running backs coach) before joining Nick Saban with the Miami Dolphins in 2006. Smart has remained with Saban until now and has been defensive coordinator for the Crimson Tide since 2008.
What to Expect
Georgia fans can rest assured that Kirby Smart has learned his lessons well from Saban. There has always been a undercurrent of worry that Alabama’s defensive success may have been all about Saban with Smart as a mere figurehead. While the system is certainly Saban’s, Smart has learned, taught and implemented it for many years. He will transfer that knowledge, and know how, to Athens.
I expect Smart to actively coach one defensive position group, but the hallmark of Nick Saban’s system at Alabama has been the system. That is, he has hired quality coaches, given them every tool needed and insisted that they adhere to his standards, his very high standards.
Recruiting has always been fundamental to success at Alabama and Kirby Smart is recognized as one of the best recruiters in the business. Georgia produces more SEC talent than any other state. Kirby Smart and the University of Georgia are a dream matchup.
Now he has to show us what he has learned.