Alabama Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Kirby Smart has been the mastermind behind some of college football's most fearsome defenses over the years, and he must be considered the front-runner to fill the Auburn head coaching vacancy this winter.
According to AL.com's Charles Goldberg, Smart was interviewed for the job on Monday and is considered to be a "strong contender" for the job.
It's no surprise that Auburn has interest in Smart, considering the success the Tide's defense has experienced since he was promoted from assistant to defensive coordinator in 2008.
Smart's defense ranks first in total yards allowed (246 per game) and second only to Notre Dame in points allowed (10.7 per game) this season. And since Smart took over as defensive coordinator in Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide has ranked among the best defensive football teams in the country.
Just take a look at the numbers.
Alabama's Defense Under Kirby Smart Since 2008
|Year||Total Defense (TYPG)||Scoring Defense (PPG)|
|2012||1st (246.0)||2nd (10.7)|
|2011||1st (183.6)||1st (8.2)|
|2010||5th (286.4)||3rd (13.5)|
|2009||2nd (245.4)||2nd (11.7)|
|2008||3rd (263.5)||7th (14.3)|
Compare those rankings with Auburn's 2012 figures, and Smart looks like the obvious front-runner.
Who should be the front-runner for the Auburn job?
Sure, some of Smart's success has to be attributed to Nick Saban and his ability to recruit top-notch talent year after year. But there's no denying just how effective Smart has been directing Saban's recruits to two national championships and three BCS title-game appearances.
Clearly, the 36-year-old Smart has no problem getting players to give their all for him on a consistent basis. Rarely has his defense even surrendered more than a single touchdown in a game since he took over nearly five years ago.
Nursing the Tigers back to championship contenders won't be easy, but it starts with defense, and that starts with hiring a defensive specialist in Kirby Smart.
No matter how awkward the 2013 Iron Bowl would be.
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