Kirby Smart picks a narrative.

January 6, 2010:

… Smart said earlier this week that he expected to be back at Alabama next season. But on Tuesday, he didn’t completely shut the door on going back to his alma mater, either.

Richt has talked to Smart about the job, but Smart says there’s never been a formal offer.

“I haven’t really talked to Mark much,” said Smart, who was the Broyles Award winner as the top assistant coach in the country this year. “To say I said ‘no’ to Mark … he’s not offered me anything. So that’s not really accurate. To be honest, with this game coming up, I haven’t even thought about it.”

Smart admitted that you never say never in this business.

“You don’t ever know what’s going to happen, but I’m certainly excited about the opportunity to be back at Alabama,” Smart said. “We’ve got a lot of good players coming back.”

January 11, 2010:

“I think it was pretty well known that there was an opportunity to return to my alma mater as defensive coordinator. I wouldn’t even have considered discussing the position with any other school, but when it is a place I’ve spent some of my best years and had some great memories, I thought it was something I should discuss with my family and figure out what was best…”

May 10, 2010:

“Everybody just assumed I was given the raise later after I talked to schools,” Smart said. “But that wasn’t the case. Coach (Nick) Saban was very proactive in that he offered me a very substantial raise right after the Florida game.

“I always wanted to return to Alabama, and I felt that way all the way through the process.”

Smart said he spoke with a couple of teams by phone but ultimately never interviewed elsewhere.

Gee, Kirby, I wonder how anyone could have gotten the wrong impression about that.

Hey, look, more power to Smart – it’s hard to begrudge anyone the opportunity that presented itself to him in January.  But he’s going to have a tough time convincing me that some feelers weren’t sent out in Richt’s direction about his possible interest in coming back to Athens as the DC.  Remember that Richt was already in the midst of doing his due diligence on Grantham (hence Bud Foster’s interest in talking) and had already been used by a couple of candidates to enhance their bottom lines with their current employers when things appeared to get interesting with Smart.  The idea that Richt would stick his neck out like that again with a guy who “always wanted to return to Alabama” seems unlikely.

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26 Comments

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26 responses to “Kirby Smart picks a narrative.

  1. I am inclined to say that things worked out well for both parties. I think Kirby is great, but I’m not sure if he was ready to take over and fly solo in the SEC. I don’t think anyone really believes that the Bama defense is his baby…..the paternity test tends to say otherwise.

    It seems to me that CMR has given Grantham the keys and walked away from the defense……I think that’s exactly what was needed. Not only is Grantham’s resume a tad more impressive than Kirby’s, he has a verifiable work history that allows us to see what kind of product he puts on the field. I think it will become obvious pretty quickly that he is who we think he is.

    At the end of the day, I believe Kirby will look back and think he might have made the wrong decision…..his window of opportunity at UGa has probably closed.

    • dboy

      I agree down to the last statement. Looking at the big picture. I think that he could be Richt’s successor in say 5-10 years. It depends of course on how a coaching change goes down and when, but if he continues to have great success as DC or as HC at another program, and we need a head coach. I don’t think that the door would necessarily be shut for him to return. However, I do agree that there are many “ifs” in that scenario.

      • I can see your logic, but if Bobo stays with CMR over the course of his career…..well, you know.

        And for the record…..I am not one of those guys that thinks Bobo is inept….in fact, I think just the opposite. The guy has consistently done a pretty good job. If Grantham’s defense goes GATA on us…Bobo will be the next Mark Richt in terms of prolific offensive coordinators. I bet Bobo was smiling like a mule eating briars when Willie got canned.

        • dudetheplayer

          I agree with you that Bobo has done a mostly solid job as OC, but I can’t for the life of me see him turning into a great HC at a big-time program like UGA.

          It would be Ray Goff redux.

            • Mayor of Dawgtown

              I disagree. I think Bobo is headed straight for a HC job although probably not at an SEC at least not at first. If he plays his cards right and the Dawgs have the success I think they are going to have in the next 3 years, it might been as soon as 2014 or 2015. I can see Bobo at FSU after Jimbo falls on his face.

        • dboy

          I don’t think Bobo has done enough to separate himself as a top level OC to go right into the HC position at big university like UGA…at least not yet. High turnovers, high penalties, but overall good results. In contrast, Richt was coaching top 5 offenses for 10 years on championship caliber teams when he was hired at UGA. Both Bobo and Smart have a ways to go but Smart has coached a #1 defense on a Championship team. Time will tell.

      • DawgPhan

        That is stupid to think that Smart is heir apparent…he isn’t even in the same state where the conversation takes place. He can rot out the rest of his days in Ala-damn-bama for all I care…he tony cole’d himself pretty good and I hope he never wears red and black ever again.

        • Dang Big Guy….that’s kinda harsh isn’t it? Football is a business…he made a smart decision in that sense. He got the same money without the risk of failure. I tend to think he knew he wasn’t ready for the job and all the hype that was gonna come with it.

          Kirby will always be a DGD, but it seems you can’t go around dissing Moma without some repercussions I guess.

    • Vindexdawg

      Yes, quite a difference between what he said a scant four months ago and what he says now. Why on earth couldn’t the Tide coach have simply answered, No comment, let’s talk about our D for this next season. I do not think that he has amnesia but he appears to think that everyone else does. However, I am really much more interested in how things work out with OUR current Coaches and Players. A clean slate, everybody working hard at their basics in addition to learning a new D, competing for their positions, no off-season blather about “seeeeenior leeeadership” or “team chemistry”. Just as different from a year ago as night is from day. Hopefully the results this fall will be as different yoo.

  2. baltimore dawg

    don’t be too hard on ks. remember that he works for a program with a fan base that had to be reassured by its head coach after he played himself at an earlier career stop in a freakin’ movie. (of course, with saban, there’s always plenty of room to wonder).

    i still think that ks hasn’t completely proved his worth until he’s replicated that success out from under saban’s tutelage. but now he’s going to have to do it as a head coach somewhere. good for him, i guess.

  3. The Realist

    I’m glad we landed Grantham. I’m happy for Kirby… I want all ex-Dawgs to be successful in their endeavors.

    I don’t understand the over-the-top Kirby love from the fan base, though. I’ve seen his name bandied about as a successor to Richt. Why? Because he played at Georgia like Dooley and Richt (sarcasm for the impaired)? I suppose we need somebody that really bleeds Red and Black like Ray Goff to take the helm after Richt. That worked out so well the last time.

    Kirby is an up-and-coming coordinator. If he can continue his success, he may land a nice head coaching gig somewhere. I honestly hope he does. But, as far as succeeding Richt? I hope the guy hasn’t even started his college career yet… his playing career.

  4. Barry

    No one begrudges Kirby for staying at Alabama; it was the right move for him. But the way Kirby handled Richt’s offer (and yes, there was an offer) in January didn’t just burn bridges – it dynamited them. There are a lot of Dawgs that harbor bitter feelings towards Kirby and I can’t imagine we will ever see him coaching for UGA.

  5. EastCobbDawg

    Kirby may turn out to be a great coordinator and head coach in the future. The problem remains that that Saban has had a lot of different coordinators and his defenses haven’t really varied that much so you have to wonder how well Kirby could stand on his own two feet. He’s very young.

    Saban had let Steele go to Clemson the year prior without much of a whimper and then plugged Kirby in. Not much changed. When the UGA job started to heat up, Saban decided he wasn’t going to lose Kirby to us. My gut feeling is that this was not so much about the coaching but instead it was Smart’s ability to recruit in Georgia. Saban clearly has a strategy to hit Georgia hard and had Kirby left, it would have cut him off at the knees, much as what happened to UT when Donnan took Garner.

    One last thought, had Kirby moved to UGA we would have indeed been ecstatic but in all likelihood Saban would have replaced him with one Todd Grantham. The spin out of Bama would most certainly be, “It’s Saban’s defense anyway and we replaced Smart with a much better guy.” In this case, they might be telling the truth.

  6. Bryant Denny

    I can understand how you guys would harbor some ill will toward Smart. Like a poster noted above, though, this is business for the coaches.

    You can spin Smart’s role on the Tide staff however you like, depending on which team is your favorite. I think it’s pretty clear, though, that Saban views him as an integral part of the staff and worthy of a ton of cash.

    I think Smart has to be really careful with his next move. If he crashes, all will think it was all Saban any way. Why take a lateral move – even to your alma mater – if you can hold out for a head coaching gig?

    If the Georgia job ever comes open, all this won’t matter. Whoever the hot names are at the time will get a look.

    Have a good day,

    BD

  7. Dawgaholic

    Some schools are more concerned with character traits such as honesty when looking for a head coach.

    I’m not privy to inside info and hope that Kirby was honest in whatever actually happened. I’m confident that those deciding whether or not he is ever the HC at UGA will be privy to that information. Hopefully that will be 20 years from now or more and Kirby will have had the opportunity to prove that any mistake he may have made was a simple youthful transgression.

  8. LookingIn

    Wait a second, KS dug his own grave on this one! He actually signed a letter of intent and then backed out. That is the real issue with him.
    He had his chance, took it, then decided to turn it down the next day.
    If he had simply said no, I have more to learn, then I would still consider him as a possible HC later on. But he took advantage of the situation, using his alma mater to do it, and that will never sit right going forward.
    Finally, he is not telling the whole truth on the salary thing either. All assistants got a raise after the SEC win, so in that sense he is right. But his was in line with everyone elses (according to a big Bama backer I know) until the UGA money got leaked. Only then did he get a matching offer, almost double what he was making, to stick around.

  9. Tommy

    I don’t really harbor any will towards Smart. Sure, his timing sucked, but it’s not like he really cost us anything. We got our guy. Plus, I don’t think he strung us along for spite; more likely, he was genuinely tormented by the choice.

    In some ways, I’m a little relieved. As others have noted, once you get past the emotional aspect that it’s nice to have alums come back to the program, doubts would linger until the SEC opener in Columbia as to whether we just got a highly paid recruiter who simply stewarded Saban’s D or we got a proper DC. With Grantham, no one’s having that debate.

    Also, I tend to wonder about the internal politics of a staff where you’ve got a lot of long-timers. If Kirby came back to Athens, you’d have to figure that he’d have the brass ring in mind — Richt’s job, which Bobo probably has eyes for as well. Grantham has in his favor that he’s not a Dawg. Richt’s job is just one of several great jobs that might get thrown his way if he consistently puts a great product on the field, but it’s not The Brass Ring for him that it might be for Smart or Bobo.

  10. thewhiteshark

    I don’t begrudge Kirby. There’s definitely a little revisionist spin going on here but that’s okay. I was never overly thrilled about getting him to start with. My problem with Kirby is that we just don’t really know enough. It would be interesting to see him coach out of Saban’s shadow. Grantham has a good resume in a variety of situations and is well thought of. I think CMR ended up with a good one, but as in all things, time will tell.

  11. JC in Powder Springs

    Don’t care about Smart, he’s with a competitor now. But I’ll be rooting that he beats fl, sc and tn this season. Other than sec-east games, wouldn’t bother me if tide lost every week.

    After taking a quick look at tide’s schedule, other than 3 out-of-conference patsies, they have what looks to be a pretty tough row-to-hoe. And ‘mr. college football’ (mcf) barnhart picked them to repeat?! I wouldn’t mind taking that bet.

  12. S FL Chapter of the Bulldog Nation

    Personally I would of been happy with Smart to come back to Athens…there would of been a ton of hype for him!

    On the other side, Grantham’s going to be one hell of a coach for UGA! I’m cautiously optimistic about our chances this year, but everyone has to keep in mind…although there is no shortage of talent in Athens…we have a NEW DC, NEW QB, and A LOT of questions on the defensive side of the ball. Mainly how the players are going to grasp the new scheme and how they will adapt to their new rolls. I have all the faith in the world in Coach Richt, but there are a lot of games that could go either way this year! If we take them then great! That’s what we set out to do..If we’re in them in the end and don’t because they were just better on that given day…then so be it, Next! But, if we are out there looking like a team that has no clue…in the words of HOF LB Mike Singletary “can not play with ‘em, can not win with ‘em, can not coach with ‘em, cant do it!”

    Let’s get this party started!!!! GATA Dawgs!!!! Go Dawgs!!!!

  13. Will

    And he’ll want to return to bama until the moment LSU offers him the job when they heave the hat.

  14. AthensHomerDawg

    Is Richt a lot more savvy than we are giving him credit for? I really don’t believe he wanted a cast off DC from Tennessee. Same as the DC from a lot of other schools. But, all that speculation bought time until Grantham finished going as far as he was gonna go. “I’ll tell you what?” In the end his new DC is every bit as experienced as Saban and the cost to employ him compares favorably with other what SEC schools are paying their DC. (insert wink here). Richt learned a lot at FSU under Bowden. This guy has coached in how many NC games? How many Heisman’s has his qb’s won? He delegated too early thinking his coaching team was ready …. and it wasn’t. How long did it take Bowden to build that dynasty? Mack Brown? Just sayin!

  15. Vious

    He wasn’t liked by Richt the time he left and is probably hated now

    He played us for more money, period

    He is dead to me and should be to all UGA fans

    If he comes back to us as a HC, he will not have a long leash