Kirby Smart is facing plenty of pressure to turn around the fortunes of the Bulldogs now that he’s the UGA coach, but Alabama’s Nick Saban is confident his protégé will do well. Saban also thinks UGA is a premium job poised for big success under Smart.
“You never know how people do, but I think he’ll do fine,” Saban said of Smart to Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports. “Personally, Georgia, if it’s not the best job in the conference, it certainly should be.”
In 15 seasons with Mark Richt at the helm, the Bulldogs posted a 145-51 record. But UGA went a decade without winning the SEC before Richt was fired after a 9-3 regular season in 2015.
Smart told Dodd that UGA’s inability to break through and win on the biggest stages puzzled Saban.
“He’s asked from time to time, ‘What’s going on? Why don’t they win more?'” said Smart, recalling questions posed about Georgia by Saban. To which he replied, “I don’t know that. I’ll never know. They won good, they just didn’t win big.”
Smart first joined Saban’s staff as a defensive backs coach at LSU in 2004 before joining him again as a safeties coach for the Miami Dolphins in 2006. After one year as a defensive backs coach for Alabama in 2007, Smart took over as the defensive coordinator for the Crimson Tide in 2008 and held the position for eight seasons.