Georgia Fans Can Keep Dreaming, but Kirby Smart Is Not Leaving Alabama

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterJanuary 14, 2014

Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart
Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby SmartMarvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Good news, Georgia fans. Your defensive coordinator in 2014 will not be Todd Grantham.

In one of the surprise moves of the offseason, Grantham bolted Athens in favor of Louisville and new head coach Bobby Petrino over the weekend. That qualifies as addition by subtraction for the Bulldogs, because nothing Grantham has done at Georgia indicates that he's capable of putting together a championship-level defense.

The bad news, though, is Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart won't be replacing him in the classic city.

Smart is one of the hottest names on the coaching front after leading Alabama's defense into the top five nationally in total defense in each of the last six seasons. 

Jan 4, 2013; Fort Lauderdale FL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Kirby Smart during a press conference for the 2013 BCS National Championship game at Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

He's a former Georgia player who is stuck in the shadow of Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban and runs a 3-4 defense similar to the one Grantham ran. All of those attributes make him a capable and convenient choice to replace Grantham.

However, it's not going to happen.

The main reason is money. 

According to Andrew Gribble of, Smart is making a pretty penny to coordinate Alabama's defenseeven if it is in Saban's shadow.

Of note on speculation about UGA going after Smart to replace Grantham, his salary increases from $1.15M to $1.35M in 2014.

— Andrew Gribble (@Andrew_Gribble) January 12, 2014

Could Georgia top that? Probably. Would Smart accept a slight raise to take on more risk? Probably not. 

Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart
Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby SmartUSA TODAY Sports

Why would he?

He's got a great gig going in Tuscaloosa.

He's established himself as a hotshot coordinator in the same mold that Will Muschamp was in when he was Texas' defensive coordinator. A big, big, head coaching job is in his not-too-distant future.

Why assume more risk by making a lateral move orat the very best considering there might be more autonomy in Athensslight step forward?

The risk would outweigh the reward.

Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart
Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby SmartKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Plus, there are always personal relationships working behind the scenes.

According to Tim Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Smart turned down a chance to run Georgia's defense in January 2010. He explained why in the article.

After thinking about all the factors over the last couple days, we are going to stay at the University of Alabama. We love it in Tuscaloosa, have made some great friends here and I think we are building something special here at Alabama with Coach [Nick] Saban. I have learned so much in the time I’ve spent with Coach Saban, and every year I feel like a become a better coach.

So what's changed? Aside from Smart's stock as a head coaching soaring, nothing. 

Does Georgia really want to make another run at Smart knowing that he makes more money and it makes even less sense on a professional level after already being left high and dry once before?


At least, it shouldn't—not even if it places the outdated "coach in waiting" tag on him. The program should be better than that.

Kirby Smart is a fantastic coach, has proven that he can lead a defense to a consistently elite level and has earned a reputation that is second to none among assistant coaches in college football. His next move will be to a major program as a head coach, not to run Georgia's defense.

It just wouldn't make sense.



Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Tuesday afternoon that Florida State defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt will take the same position on Mark Richt's staff at Georgia.