TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — As mentor and mentee, Nick Saban and Kirby Smart won four national championships together at Alabama.
Now, the two will battle on the field and the recruiting trail with Smart moving on to become the head coach at Georgia.
During Thursday’s SEC coaches teleconference, Saban was asked about going head-to-head with his former protege in recruiting.
“Kirby did a great job for us. He’s an excellent coach, he’s a good teacher and a really, really good recruiter,” Saban said. “He certainly has a good plan at a very good school. I think we’ve always had a lot of players from Georgia that we’ve recruited — some that we get, some that we don’t. It’s always been very competitive there, and we wouldn’t expect it to be any different because I certainly have a lot of respect for Kirby as a competitor. I know he’ll be organized and do a really good job.”
Saban is on record stating that if Georgia isn’t the best job in the SEC, it should be. Mix a tradition-rich program and a fertile recruiting base along with Smart’s ability to land top prospects, and there’s no reason to believe Georgia shouldn’t be able to maintain its level of consistency or even become a more dominant force in the SEC East.
During the Eastern Division head coaches’ teleconference, Smart was also asked about the possibility of locking horns with his former boss in recruiting.
“I don’t know if I said it would be fun,” Smart said, cutting the reporter off. “I don’t look forward to that because I know Nick does a great job in recruiting and they’ve got a great product to sell.”
In the end, Smart said it’s bigger than just him versus Saban.
“It’s not me against him,” Smart said. “It’s very rare that Georgia and Alabama are the only two teams recruiting a kid. We’re on a kid, everybody in the SEC’s on a kid. But never me against Saban.”