Hiring current Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart to be the next head coach of the Auburn Tigers would be a brilliant move, and it's one that would have a big impact on recruiting.
Defense is the name of the game in the SEC, whether you like to admit it or not, and if there's a coach out there who has proven he knows a thing or two about defense, it would be Smart.
AuburnUndercover.com is reporting that Smart is scheduled to interview today with Auburn in regards to the head coaching position. This should be great news for Auburn fans, and if he's eventually hired, it would be great news for Auburn recruiting.
2012 was a rough season for Auburn on the field, but if there was anything positive for Tigers fans to point to, it was a very solid 2013 recruiting class that now former head coach Gene Chizik had put together.
Auburn has lost two commitments since Chizik's firing (4-star wideout JaQuay Williams and 4-star linebacker Trey Johnson), and that's never a good thing, but at least for now, the class remains largely intact at 16 recruits. Most importantly, they still have the commitment of their three 5-star players.
This is where hiring Smart would have the biggest impact.
Without a doubt, the strength of Auburn's 2013 class is defense, and it all starts and ends with those three 5-star recruits. 5-star inside linebacker Reuben Foster is the featured player and big name, but 5-star defensive ends Dee Liner and Carl Lawson are just as important.
Those three recruits alone have the potential to make Auburn's defense very good in the next few years, especially in the front seven, and that's a a recipe for success in the SEC.
By hiring Smart, Auburn would be making a huge statement to not only those three elite recruits, but to the college football world in general. The focus on defense would be rather evident, and in the SEC, that's the quickest way to rebuild.
While Smart doesn't have head coaching experience, his resume as a defensive mind speaks for itself. His Crimson Tide defense is currently ranked No. 2 in FBS giving up just 10.7 points per game. Last season, Alabama featured one of the most dominant defenses in recent memory, and they capped off their stellar year with 21-0 shutout over LSU in the BCS Championship game.
Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick, Dont'a Hightower, Courtney Upshaw, Marcell Dareus, Rolando McLain and Kareem Jackson are all names Smart can point to that he coached at Alabama. What do they all have in common? They all we're recently drafted high in the NFL draft.
Don't underestimate how important those names can be on the recruiting trail.
Smart's track record as a defensive coach is impeccable, and that would also be a huge selling point on the recruiting trail, especially with defensive recruits. Not only would hiring him go a long way in keeping their current three elite defenders committed, but it would give Auburn a great shot at landing other defensive star recruits like 5-star defensive tackle Montravius Adams, who has Auburn in his top five according to 247Sports (Alabama is also in Adams' top five, and Smart is his main recruiter there).
The one and only downside here would be a potential scheme change to the 3-4 defense. There's a good chance that Smart would bring his scheme with him to Auburn (I don't see why he wouldn't'), and that will lead to a few personnel issues as the program transitions away from a 4-3.
Could Liner and Lawson play standing up as 3-4 outside linebackers or put on more mass to play the 4/5 tech? It's possible, but a scheme change could definitely put some strain on those two commitments. That said, Smart has proven that he knows how to coach defense and utilize elite talent, so if there's a coach that can get the most out of them in a scheme transition, it would be him.
That would be a short-term problem for Auburn, though, because in the long-term Smart's reputation should allow him to get his guys—especially if he can quickly turn around Auburn's defense.
Overall, Smart is a great defensive mind who would really bring that focus to the Auburn Tigers. He has a great resume and track record that will help him as a recruiter, both now and in the future.
He would be a great hire for Auburn recruiting.
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