Brant Sanderlin/AJC
Nick Saban (left) and Kirby Smart spent nine years together at Alabama.

Alabama football: Relationship between Nick Saban, Kirby Smart stands at center of national title game

Matt Speakman

Alabama football drives the conversation here at the Rammer Jammer, SEC Country’s daily Alabama athletics recap, but we’ll cover news for every facet of the Crimson Tide. Every morning, we’ll be here for the latest on Alabama football, basketball and every other sport on campus.

Old friends reunited

At the center of the national championship stands Alabama coach Nick Saban and Georgia coach Kirby Smart. The two built Alabama into a sustained powerhouse. Smart spent nine years as the Crimson Tide’s defensive coordinator before taking the head coaching job at his alma mater. This week, Saban revealed the piece of advice he gives his former assistants when they take head coaching jobs.

The national championship will be the first time the two have faced each other since Smart left, and history is on Saban’s side. He is 11-0 against his former assistants. For most of the week, Smart and Saban have been complimentary of each other. Still, the two coaches are cut from the same stone. They have remained in sync the entire week leading up to the championship.

In other news…

  • Saban officially ruled out offensive guard Lester Cotton and linebacker Anfernee Jennings, both of whom suffered injuries against Clemson.
  • Former Alabama safety Landon Collins will be a part of ESPN’s coverage of the national championship.
  • Alabama’s offense has never lost a turnover in a national championship under Saban.
  • SEC Network analyst Greg McElroy said Alabama will win more championships than Georgia in the next five years.
  • Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans threw shade at former Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.

Getting over an emotional hangover

Alabama had a lot to prove when it faced Clemson in the Sugar Bowl. The players felt they were disrespected, and wanted to show the nation just how good they were. It worked, and Alabama dominated Clemson 24-6. 

After that emotional victory, the players had to get ready to face Georgia. Normally, a win like that brings an emotional hangover. Alabama is not worried about that. The Tide know they will come ready to play.

Squashing injury rumors

Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick responded to the rumors that he had a bruised kidney after the win over Clemson. He said both of his kidneys are fine, and that he will play against Georgia. The reports surfaced when a TV reporter tweeted out that he had suffered a bruised kidney.

Fitzpatrick did admit to taking a trip to the hospital after the game in New Orleans. He was not spotted at practice earlier in the week, but said he will definitely be available for Alabama in the national championship.

Brothers clashing in national championship game

Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley and Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley may be brothers, but when it comes to the national championship, they are enemies. The two players are going to be on opposite sides of the field for the first time since Riley chose Georgia over Alabama. Now a sophomore, he is a big part of the Bulldogs offense. Calvin said he wants his little brother to do well, but also wants his team to come out on top. The two will compete for bragging rights over the other.

Smashing the runner-up trophy

A video of Alabama strength coach Scott Cochran smashing the playoff runner-up trophy surfaced last week. During Media Day in Atlanta, Cochran confirmed that the trophy was real. He ran it by Saban first, but still was punished for smashing the trophy on the ground. He also said it wasn’t the first time he’s smashed a trophy.

Around the Capstone

Alabama basketball fell on the road to Georgia 65-46 on Saturday.

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