Smart: ‘I couldn’t live with myself’ if he left Alabama before playoff

Alabama defensive coordinator and Georgia head coach Kirby Smart speaks during a news conference for the Cotton Bowl, a college football playoff game, on Monday in Dallas. (AP photo)

Alabama defensive coordinator and Georgia head coach Kirby Smart speaks during a news conference for the Cotton Bowl, a college football playoff game, on Monday in Dallas. (AP photo)

DALLAS — Kirby Smart wore a bland dress shirt and a blue blazer to a news conference Monday, as if to appease the masses on two SEC campuses, even if that’s not really possible. Because in the unique world of college football coaching, where a man can hold two jobs at once, appeasing competing fan bases just isn’t happening.

“One day at a time, brother. One day at a time,” Smart said Monday when asked how he’s managing to squeeze two jobs, as Alabama’s defensive coordinator and Georgia’s new head coach, into a 24-hour day. “There’s light through the tunnel, I keep telling myself. But at the end of the day, it was the right thing to do. I wanted to do the right thing by both employers. I wanted to do the right thing for the kids. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself (if he left Alabama). To not coach in this game, I couldn’t even imagine. It’s a no-brainer.”

Smart is right, and anybody who considers him disloyal to either Alabama or Georgia just doesn’t get it.

It’s a unique situation. It’s a difficult situation. In no other profession does this happen. Imagine the No. 2 executive at Coke finishing out his duties for two months after he already has been named the No. 1 executive at Pepsi. Now add to this that the same executive had been recruiting for Coke and now is recruiting for Pepsi … while he is still being paid by Coke.

This only happens in college football because of the timing of firings and hirings. Smart coached Alabama’s defense in the SEC championship game, was named as Mark Richt’s replacement at Georgia the next day, immediately went to work recruiting for the Bulldogs, then returned to Tuscaloosa last week to prepare for the Crimson Tide’s college football semifinal against Michigan State in Thursday night’s Cotton Bowl.

Smart fielded a number of questions about managing his time and divided loyalties and admitted it hasn’t been easy. He tried in two separate news conferences to deflect the attention off himself and put it on Alabama players and this week’s game: “It’s not about me. It’s about this game and about these players, who’ve earned the right to be here.”

Nice sentiment. Not working.

The questions kept coming. He referenced his “time management challenge.” He reiterated previous comments about receiving advice on the balancing act from other coaches, notably the Falcons’ Dan Quinn (who unofficially accepted the Atlanta job while coaching Seattle’s defense in the Super Bowl). He talked about sacrificing family time and sleep but never suggested his duties at either job have, or will, suffer.

“The focus for me is winning this game and finishing it out the right way,” he said. “There’s nothing more that’s gonna help me at the University of Georgia than winning a national title at the University of Alabama. That’s my focus and goal right now. If you get past that, you’re lost.”

Alabama coach Nick Saban has been in this situation before, most recently when former offensive coordinator Jim McElwain took the Colorado State job. There was never a thought by either party of Smart not coaching Alabama’s defense this week, even if that meant switching allegiances during a crucial recruiting period.

Smart said of Saban “understands” the situation.

“Why change something that’s been working?” he asked. “We understand the stain and stresses. And, sure, it’s tough at times to know we’re recruiting the same kids. But we’re all professionals. We’re not out there bashing each other. Ultimately each kid has to decide what’s best for him. There’s good and bad about both places.”

What was his Georgia recruiting pitch?

“’Do you want to play? If you want to play, let’s go,’” Smart said, echoing his comments to recruits. “As for the future of Alabama, it’s up to those guys to sell that.  I’m not into saying negative things about Alabama. There’s not a negative thing to say. It’s a great place. But at the University of Georgia, if you want to play, let’s go.”

He said he doesn’t “feel any mixed loyalties” and that when he’s recruiting for Georgia, “I’m working towards an end goal of building a successful program. But when I’m coaching these guys and I’m in the meeting room with them, I think everyone will tell you I’m 100 percent there.”

Several Alabama players, Smart said, have thanked him for staying. “The guys on this team don’t care who I’m recruiting for Georgia,” he said. “They want to win.”

ALSO SEE: Son also rises: Smart bypassed business career, knew ‘coaching was in DNA’

ALSO SEE: Smart not upset strength coach stayed at Alabama

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43 comments
Getthetruth
Getthetruth

It doesn't matter whether Kirby coaches Alabama in the BCS nor does it matter whether his compensation is impacted by student academic achievement.  You see, it is all about winning.  My whole life depends upon others believing that UGA is a national program. I value this perception more than I value my family, my work or my God.  You see, I bleed red and black and my self esteem depends upon 18 to 21 year olds displaying a level of athletic achievement that UGA last displayed 35 years ago due to the dominance of a single player.  Clearly that event established us as a national program and I will spend all of my energy focused on reliving that event because clearly that is what life is all about.

OH:IO
OH:IO

If Bama wins the NC this season the dogs will claim it. 

FlatTire
FlatTire

I see the fan club is making demands for the new coach


thats funny  


but when UGA was 5-16 vs SEC teams that finished above 500 since 2008 


or 11 losses in 3 seasons including this year

or 21 losses the previous 5 seasons not including this season; the same number of losses Goff had his last 5 seasons

or 0 SEC titles in a decade

or 1 major bowl appearance in a decade


yet no demands;  no so called short leashes on those wonderful stats above 

FlatTire
FlatTire

@Buschleaguer  Im sure if the new coach only wins 10 games that won't be good enough for the fan club now

OH:IO
OH:IO

@FlatTire


Good thing we're in the off-season signing day national championship phase.

FlatTire
FlatTire

@OH:IO  the fan club won't be raising the pre-season national title flag in Athens anymore; Im sure it will be raised in Miami 

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@FlatTire

Flat ,

Don't you realize that all of the CMR acolytes are just a bowl win away from another 10 win season.It does not matter that the Dogs lost 3 SEC games and only beat one bowl team (Ga.Southern in OT). 

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@FlatTire

Worst case scenario for Smart will be if Miami wins a soft  ACC Coastal next year and the Dogs don't finish first in a softer SEC East.

dawg fan
dawg fan

@FlatTire  Oh but Flat the players didn't execute, it was raining, we had injuries, the refs cheated us, the stadium was too loud, it was the coordinators' fault, the ball didn't bounce our way, etc., etc.  Mark Richt won a lot of games but if he didn't it was due to some misfortune beyond his control or it was simply someone else's fault.  Did you hear that?  MARK RICHT won 145 games, not Georgia.  That's how his Fan Club talks.  MARK RICHT did this and MARK RICHT did that. But if he fails that's not Mark Richt at all.  They don't even talk about Mark Richt.  They don't even mention his name.  ZERO accountability.  This mentality was poisoning our football program.  Kirby will put more pressure on himself than any fan or media member could ever dream of.  He said so himself.  Thank God and greyhound we finally have a coach with balls.          

FlatTire
FlatTire

@dawg fan  you forgot to add the schedule wasn't as easy as other teams in the SEC that win titles

Ben9494
Ben9494

 I watch as recruit after recruit decommits and Richt encourages them to to consider Miami. Meanwhile UGA has no acting head coach. The bowl game I think they will flip coins to select plays. Smart obviously cares way more about Bama than he does about his "dream" job. I hope he knows he won't get as long of leash as Richt had. 

dawg fan
dawg fan

@BenMishra  They will flip a coin to call plays because it's yet another stupid pointless bowl game brought to you by your hero Mark Richt.  I guess it's Kirby's fault that we are once again playing in a post-season game of absolutely no significance for the umpteenth time?  Of course it is.  Do you know anything about football?  There is absolutely nothing Kirby could do to help us with our Taxslayer Bowl preparations.  He's only been the coach for 3 weeks.  You can't just come in and start calling the shots for a game on that much time.  You are way beyond clueless.  Your mancrush Mark Richt didn't even attend the Sun Bowl you effing moron, but Kirby is supposed to be here helping us for the Taxslayer bowl?  Nice double standard.  Clowns like you are Exhibit A on why it was time for the choke artist to take a hike. It's been nothing but excuses and blind worship of the man for 10 freaking years.  We were sick of it.  Good holy grief take the crybaby act to Miami if that man is so important to you.  The rest of us want to win games that matter.  Good riddance.   

dawg fan
dawg fan

@TideDawg If he had left Alabama early I'd bet a major organ that these same people would be critical of that too.  They'd be questioning his loyalty and saying he should finish the drill.  I guarantee it.  Kirby won't win with these people.  After spending the better part of a decade trying to convince everyone that we should all be happy with 9.7 win seasons and Belk Bowls they'll be the first to criticize Kirby if he doesn't go 16-0 and win it all in his very first season.  It's not even about Kirby though.  It's about pitching little hissy fits because their hero was finally held accountable.  These people are sick in the head.  Mark Richt doesn't need to coach football.  He needs to start a megachurch where his loyal fans can fawn over him.  I don't think these people even care about the football part that much so why bother? 

TideDawg
TideDawg

@BenMishra You're obviously not a man that respects loyalty, and you obviously don't respect a man that has built a "dream team defense" and wants to see it finish with a NC. The way I see it Georgia has hired a man of integrity and he will give UGA that same loyalty. Smart will bring to Georgia that National Championship aura and he will develop same at Georgia. Looking forward to a lot of great years at Georgia. He will eventually move to the NFL in 8-10 yrs. Don't worry about recruits....he will get them.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@BenMishra 

As I recall Coach Richt finished the season at FSU and did not leave the Seminoles until after their bowl game.

TU
TU

@BenMishra  Personally, I am looking forward to watching Lilly call plays. Hope he can find the switch to get this offense moving.


Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@TU @BenMishra

I would rather the Dogs play all of the Seniors and scout team players in the bowl game. Let the returning 2016 starters play the first series or two and then pull them. The bowl game has no meaning (other than another 10 win CMR championship) win or lose. Let the scout teamers and seniors finish their college careers on the field, who knows they might actually play hard and win the game

dawg fan
dawg fan

@Buschleaguer Yep, he sure did.  His offense also scored 2 points in that bowl game and he later made the excuse that it was difficult dealing with both jobs.  Mark Richt the excuse machine got going early.  If it doesn't work for Kirby he appears ready to take full responsibility for it. That's why he has made it clear that Alabama has been his one and only focus until their games are over.  No excuses will be necessary.  Thank God we finally have a head coach with balls.  

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@OH:IO @TideDawg

Bucky,

No one to blame but your Buckeyes, offense takes the game off against Sparty and Ohio State is out of title chase. 2016 Buckeyes the true Schmeen Team. Enjoy the Frog Bowl against the Irish. 

7576DAWG
7576DAWG

Recruit's know who was the Defensive Coordinator at Alabama when they won all of those National Titles. Georgia will get Kirby's full attention with a few weeks left before National signing day which will be enough for 2016. Still can't wait until after the Bowl games are over so we will know who will be our Defensive Coordinator . 

robo2000
robo2000

I would expect nothing less from any coach, they should finish the drill.

OH:IO
OH:IO

@robo2000


Wow.


In one sentence we have this from a dog:


expect less


shoulda woulda coulda


finish the drill


AHHHHHHHHHHH

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

Smart does not want to burn any bridges at Alabama in case they invite him back as DC in a few years

MICH:IGAN
MICH:IGAN

Is it time for the frog bowl yet?

OH:IO
OH:IO

@MICH:IGAN


Hydroplaning and an unpaid $25 ticket. Urban's lost control, right?


Oh ya, Scoreboard. 

E983
E983

Georgia Southern,Ohio State... Neither made the top 4.

Smart has his hands full to say the least. MSU is a formidable opponent that will give the Tide a run for the Championship. I hope he has a great year. He could make UGA fans forget Richt.

PappyHappy
PappyHappy

Far more character on display than the coach who headed for Miami -- who just the Monday prior to his departure announced to the assemblage that if he had not been asked to stay for the bowl game, he would have "ASKED TO STAY".  "Miami called and Richt hauled!"

OH:IO
OH:IO

Ohio State had it's way with Ol' Kirby. 


Ova-rated

TU
TU

@OH:IO Are you referring to the team that went to the fourth quarter with N Illionis? One td being a pick six. Boise State put up 55 on the Huskies last week in the bowl game. 

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@OH:IO

Speaking of OHva Rated 

the Frog Bowl will have the most OHva Rated team of all time NohTra Dame vs. The OHio St . The IRISH another team without a title this century ,but they do have their own television network. Who needs a conference, when you have a network?

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@OH:IO

Bucky you must not have heard the news, Rings just gather dust, 10 win and pre-season championships are what really have the most meaning. "the TAO of CMR".

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@OH:IO

Bucky ,

Whatever happened to that Ohio State team that had it's way with Ol' Kirby. Are they in the playoffs this year?

OH:IO
OH:IO

@Buschleaguer


Every dog, well not those dogs, have their day. 


Our latest ring is this decade, not last century. 

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

Let me be the first to say ,Must be the Holiday Hangover . Slow day on the AJC blog, Just another mention Schultzie, Ga. Southern hired Tyson Summers as their Head Football Coach. Just to let the folks in Atlanta know.

TU
TU

@Buschleaguer  Has Mrs. Summers found a house yet? Jeff can give Tyson the number for Kirby's RL agent.