Kirby Smart Opts To Stay At Bama

Following Alabama's national championship victory over Texas at the Rose Bowl last week, Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban said that he would support any of his assistant coaches making an upward move, but said he would not be supportive of a coach making a lateral move. And one felt he had failed to add a few words, such as "Kirby Smart I'm talking to you."

It's the nature of athletics that when a team has success, other teams are going to want to find coaches who have enjoyed that success and know what it takes to achieve it. Thus, Nick Saban, who ranks among the finest college football coaches ever, can expect to have his coaching staff raided. That has been true at Alabama for a number of years, going back to Hall of Fame coaches like Paul Bryant, Frank Thomas and Wallace Wade.

But Saban considers his coaches and players to be part of his family, and doesn't want a family member making a mistake. Thus, on a day when Saban was wishing Rolando McClain a fond farewell as McClain enters the NFL draft this year, he was also thrilled to be able to say that Kirby Smart would not be leaving Alabama.

Smart is Alabama's defensive coordinator. He had been offered the same position by Georgia Coach Mark Richt. Although there were rumors of a hefty pay raise and four-year contract for Smart if he would head for Georgia, and even though Georgia is Smart's alma mater, the 34-year old secondary coach elected to remain at Bama.

Smart won the 2009 Broyles Award, given annually to the top assistant coach in college football. He just finished his third season at Alabama and the Tide ranked second nationally in total defense and scoring defense in 2009.

Smart said, "I think it was pretty well known that there was an opportunity to return to my alma mater as defensive coordinator. I wouldn't even have considered discussing the position with any other school, but when it is a place I've spent some of my best years and had some great memories, I thought it was something I should discuss with my family and figure out what was best.

"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 Saban. I have learned so much in the time I've spent with Coach Saban, and every year I feel like I become a better coach.

"I've got a great deal of respect for Coach Richt and the job he has done there and the University of Georgia will also have a special place in my heart. Not only did I play there, but my wife played basketball there and we have a lot of friends at UGA.

"At the end of the day, I just feel like this is where I am supposed to be and this is a special time to be at The University of Alabama."

Saban said, "We've very pleased and happy that Kirby is going to be staying here at The University of Alabama with us. He's done a fabulous job for us. He's one of the finest assistant coaches in the country. You expect guys like Kirby to get lots of opportunities to do things, and we want to continue to help him continue to develop his career here so that when he leaves here, it's going to be to be a head coach and probably in a very good situation. So we're excited about that. We're happy for him and his family. It's very pleasing to us."

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