University of Alabama head football Nick Saban announced today the hiring of three assistants to his Crimson Tide football staff: Kirby Smart, Kevin Steele and Lance Thompson. Specific titles or duties have not been assigned at this time.
Smart joins the Tide staff after spending the 2006 season as safeties coach with the Miami Dolphins. Prior to his stint with the Dolphins, Smart spent six years on the collegiate level with Georgia (1999 and 2005), LSU (2004), Florida State (2002-03), and Valdosta State (2000-01).
As the running backs coach at Georgia in 2005, the Bulldogs averaged 162.2 yards per game, the third best mark in the SEC. Smart spent the 2004 season as defensive backs coach under Saban at LSU, where he tutored two NFL draft picks: Corey Webster (2nd round NY Giants) and Travis Daniels (4th round Miami Dolphins). The Tigers allowed 157.2 passing yards per game, which ranked second in the SEC and fifth nationally. Smart was a graduate assistant coach under Bobby Bowden at Florida State in 2002-03 and served as defensive coordinator (2001) and defensive backs (2000) coach at Valdosta State. He was an administrative assistant at Georgia in 1999.
As a player, Smart was four-year lettermen at defensive back for the Bulldogs, where he was a First-Team All-SEC pick as a senior. He finished his career with 13 interceptions, fourth in Georgia annals. He led the Bulldogs with six interceptions in 1997 and five in 1998. A four-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll, Smart earned his undergraduate degree in finance from Georgia and his master's degree from Florida State in 2003. He is a native of Bainbridge, Ga.
Steele brings a wealth of coaching experience to Alabama after spending the last four seasons as linebackers coach under Bobby Bowden at Florida State. He was named Executive Head Coach for the Seminoles in 2005. Steele has also earned the reputation as an outstanding recruiter. He was named the Rivals.com National Recruiter of the Year after landing the No. 1 ranked recruiting class at FSU in 2005. His pupils include Michael Boulware, a finalist for the 2004 NFL Rookie of Year Award with the Seattle Seahawks and Ernie Sims, the ninth overall pick by the Detroit Lions in the 2006 NFL Draft.
Steele was the head coach at Baylor from 1999-2002 before moving to Florida State. A 1981 Tennessee graduate, Steele coached the linebackers for the Carolina Panthers from 1995-98 before taking the head job at Baylor. He has also had assistant coaching stints at Nebraska (1989-94), Tennessee (1987-88), Oklahoma State (1984-86) and New Mexico State (1983). In his six years at Nebraska, the Cornhuskers posted a 60-11 overall record and appeared in six bowl games, won four conference championships and won the 1994 national championship with a 13-0 record.
The 48-year old Steele is a native of Dillon, S.C. He and his wife Linda, have one son (Gordon) and one daughter (Caroline). Gordon is an offensive lineman at Valdosta (Ga.) State.
Thompson is reunited with Coach Saban and the Crimson Tide football program after spending the last three years as defensive coordinator at Central Florida. In 2005, Thompson's defense produced a pair of All-Conference USA First-Team selections in defensive end Paul Carrington and cornerback Joe Burnett. The Golden Knights were also the 2005 Conference USA Eastern Division champions.
Thompson previously served as the defensive line coach at Alabama in 1999-2000 as the Crimson Tide won the 1999 SEC Championship and earned a BCS Bowl berth (2000 Orange Bowl). After one year at Georgia Tech (2001), Thompson moved to LSU, where he served as assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator (2003) and defensive line coach (2002) under Saban. Thompson began his coaching career at Georgia Tech, where he held numerous roles for the Yellow Jackets from 1988-1998. In 1990, he coached the defensive ends, including former All-American and all-pro Marco Coleman. Tech also won the national championship in 1990.
As a player, Thompson was a four-year letterman at The Citadel, where he earned his bachelor's degree in education and mathematics in 1987. A native of Riverdale, Ga., Thompson is married to the former Stacy Cambron of Henderson, Ky., and the couple has three daughters - Allie, Christina and Lane.