It isn't often that an Alabama assistant coach speaks publicly, so when one does, we listen.
Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart made an appearance with "The Front Row" on WCNN 680 The Fan in Atlanta on Monday with "Steak" Shapiro, Sandra Golden and Brian Finneran. In the interview, he discussed a laundry list of topics including potential leaders on his defense, the incoming class of potential stars and some of his fellow coaches that he's had the opportunity to work with in Tuscaloosa.
At the end of the interview, he was asked about the elephant in the room—his next step.
"I could finish my career being a defensive coordinator and say 'hey, he's Mickey Andrews'," Smart said, referring to the former Florida State defensive coordinator who coached from 1984-2009. "I'd be happy knowing that I had the success doing it and I was the best I could be at my job. But if the opportunity knocks, then so be it. There may be a time when I'm 45 or 50 that you get a little more antsy to be a head coach, but at 38, I'm not sitting here saying I got to go today in order to take one just to take it."
He made $1.15 million last year according to the USA Today coaching salary database, which made him the second-highest paid assistant in the country behind Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris. It would have put him 69th among head coaches last year had he carried the head coach title.
From a personal standpoint, he has something very rare in coaching circles—stability.
"My family is so happy in Tuscaloosa," Smart told . "My wife loves it. We have six-year-old twins and a two-year-old. We've been very fortunate. I moved seven times the first seven years I coached. The last eight—going on eight, I've been in the same place."
That's incredibly important for any man and any family, regardless of the profession.
Sure, he could have jumped at a head coaching job at a Sun Belt school or perhaps even one in the SEC a few years ago. But if it isn't the perfect gig at the perfect time, why bother?
Plus, he has no pressure.
Head coach Nick Saban is heavily involved with the defense as well. That, coupled with his policy that prevents assistants from talking to the media except during a few select appearances throughout the year, has created a pretty sweet gig for Smart.
Why would he leave?
He has the ability and structure within the framework of the program to focus strictly on X's and O's, without being pulled in a bunch of different directions. He has financial stability and clearly appreciates the opportunity to put down roots in Tuscaloosa, all while building his resume for "the big one."
Essentially, he is in "Will Muschamp mode" when Muschamp was the defensive coordinator and coach-in-waiting at Texas.
Sure, he's had opportunities. According to USA Today, he interviewed with Southern Miss before the Ellis Johnson debacle in 2012, and was connected to Auburn before the Tigers hired Gus Malzahn prior to the 2013 season.
What's the hurry, though?
He can continue to cash those checks in Tuscaloosa in the same town he's lived in for the better part of the decade while waiting for the next "big one." All the while, he'll coach some of the most talented players around with one of the most distinguished defensive minds in the world in Saban—a man who shoulders some of the defensive load and virtually all of the blame.
Smart would be smart to stick around in Tuscaloosa. He has earned the right and ability to take a job at an elite program that's ready-made for a quick turnaround.
Until that job opens up, why bother?