Georgia fans are desperate to find out whether former Dawg, Kirby Smart, will be the next Defensive Coordinator in Athens. Some of them over at Scout’s free boards are even tracking planes and flight plans, like this one, which is set to land in the greater Atlanta area (not too far from Athens) in about 15 minutes (8:17 ET). According to that thread, this plane belongs to a Georgia booster, and, given that this information is coming from Georgia’s free board, you can bet that this is highly reliable. (make sure you’ve got your sarcasm switch set to “On” for that one).
Speaking of reliable sources, Smart’s Wikipedia page was updated today to state that on January 10th he’d accepted the postion of Defensive Coordinator at UGA, signing a 4 year contract that will pay him in the region of $800,000 annually. This sentence has since been deleted within the last hour or so, staying true to a heated editing war on Smart’s Wikipedia page that’s been going on for the past 72 hours (Seriously, go to the page and refresh every half hour or so. Pretty funny).
Check back for updates…after the Frump.
9:27 PM, 1/10/10: Unless Kirby Smart was disguised as either a pilot or mechanic, he apparently wasn’t on that plane. Most Georgia fans still appear to be optimistic, however.
10:43 AM, 1/11/10: Reports are hitting mainstream media outlets that Smart has certainly been officially offered the position, and at about the price range speculated upon above ($800k/year). Some are saying it’s already done deal, but I’ve been able to find nothing from a public, reliable source on that front. This would put Smart in the Top 5 of assistant coaches’ salaries in NCAA football. Word is Smart is mulling the offer over, as well as potential counter offers from the Crimson Tide, who apparently are quite eager to keep him in Tuscaloosa.
11:27 AM, 1/11/10: More planes being tracked by the Georgia faithful (same forum link from above). This time it’s a plane that left for Tuscaloosa from Athens and landed about 2 hours ago. Press conference this afternoon? We’ll see…
12:02 PM, 1/11/10: Smart is reportedly conflicted about the offer from Georgia according to Zach Klein (Kirby’s been with Saban quite awhile, after all). Plane is still on the ground in Tuscaloosa; Smart’s Wikipedia page has taken a beating today…
1:19 PM, 1/11/10: Bit of a lull in reliable, public info out there, so figured it might be a good time to address this question: Why would Kirby Smart, fresh off a MNC and Broyles Award winning season with Alabama, make what many would consider, at best, a lateral move to become DC at Georgia? Here are some facts to consider:
Smart is from Georgia; his family is from Georgia; his family still lives in Georgia; Smart grew up a Georgia fan; Smart played football at Georgia; Smart met his wife, also from Georgia, and a former Lady Dawgs basketball player, at the University of Georgia; Smart coached at Georgia on two separate occasions after graduating from Georgia; Smart’s wife has reportedly expressed a desire to move back to Georgia (potentially HUGE).
Here are some possibilities to consider: Smart is often perceived as Saban’s puppet; “It’s Saban’s defense,” is something you’ll hear quite a bit, and thus Smart may think getting out of Saban’s shadow could be good for his career. There are also rumors that Mark Richt may retire from coaching, sooner that his age of 49 would suggest, in order to concentrate on his faith and missionary work. If that’s the case, it’s possible Georgia could lure Smart with a Head Coach in Waiting title.
All of this is also ignoring the fact that Georgia’s offer apparently at least doubles Smart’s current salary. Not that Alabama can’t afford to match that, obviously, but if it’s really Saban’s defense, and Saban’s alone, would they be willing to? Only time will tell. If Smart does decide to stay in Tuscaloosa, expect the Dawgs to already have a backup candidate in place rather quickly. Rumors would suggest that the most likely name would be Cowboys’ DL coach, Todd Grantham.
1:44 PM, 1/11/10: And the Wikipedia Wars continue! Smart’s page just updated to say he’s accepted the Georgia offer (screen capture). By the time you read this, and check the page yourself, I’m sure that line will be nuked.
2:50 PM, 1/11/10: BamaBeat reporting that Saban has said Smart is staying with the Crimson Tide.
FINAL UPDATE 4:15 PM, 1/11/10: Kirby Smart explains his decision for staying with the Tide in this article from the Atlanta Journal Constitution.