Report: Bama's Smart targeted to be coordinator
Published: Saturday, December 11, 2010 at 11:32 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, December 11, 2010 at 11:32 p.m.
TUSCALOOSA — New Florida coach Will Muschamp is expected to target Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart as the top candidate for the defensive coordinator position on his staff with the Gators, sources familiar with the situation have told The Tuscaloosa News.
It is not known if Muschamp has already offered the position to Smart, who could not be reached for comment. Smart, who last year won the Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant coach, received a raise to $750,000 a year after Georgia made a big-money offer to him to fill its defensive coordinator vacancy.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban spoke about Smart's career path last January when announcing that Smart had decided to turn down Georgia's offer.
"He's done a fabulous job for us," Saban said. "He's one of the finest assistant coaches in the country. You expect guys like Kirby to get lots of opportunities to do things, and we want to continue to help him continue to develop his career here so that when he leaves here its' going to be to be a head coach and probably in a very good situation."
Smart and Muschamp coached against each other in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game, with Muschamp coaching Texas' defense and Smart coaching Alabama's. The two coaches acknowledged that they talk during the season and spend time together in the offseason.
"That makes it a little tougher when you know that somebody is going to come out on the bad end of the stick," Smart said at a press conference before the game. "But as competitors, you want it that much more because you recognize and know the guy you're going against and you know you're going to see a lot more of him in the offseason."
Muschamp, who was hired Saturday to follow Urban Meyer as Florida's head coach, and Smart have had parallel careers dating back to their days as defensive backs at Georgia in the 1990s. Muschamp played at Georgia as a safety from 1991-94, with Smart playing as a defensive back for the Bulldogs from 1995-98.
They first coached together in 2000, when Muschamp was defensive coordinator at Valdosta State and Smart was defensive backfield coach. Smart was promoted to defensive coordinator at Valdosta State a year later, when Muschamp left to join Saban's staff as linebackers coach at LSU. Muschamp was promoted to defensive coordinator at LSU in 2002, and convinced Saban to hire Smart as linebackers coach two years later.
Muschamp followed Saban to the Miami Dolphins in 2005 as assistant head coach for defense, but left after one season to become defensive coordinator at Auburn. Smart followed Muschamp to the Dolphins to coach safeties for one season in 2006. He stayed with Saban when Saban left Miami to become Alabama's head coach in 2007, and has been Alabama's defensive coordinator for the past four seasons.