Nick Saban Head Coach Alabama and Kirby Smart Head Coach Georgia worked together 10 years and know each other well. He knows the blueprint but I think the Guru has something in store for his former assistant.
A lot has been made about the relationship the two of you had coaching with one another. Coach Smart, if there’s one single biggest thing that you learned from Coach Saban, what was it?
KIRBY SMART: Well, this is not the first time I’ve answered this question this week, so I’ll be happy to answer it again. But probably the single greatest thing is just the level of commitment to the organization, holding everybody in the organization to a standard that he kind of embraced himself. He never asked anybody in the organization to work any harder than he did. He held every person on the staff — and I’m not talking about just the coaching staff, I’m talking about the entire organization, to be at their best.
And I think that’s sometimes a lost art in some organizations. You see successful business organizations run that way, but you don’t always see athletic programs run that way, and I think he does a tremendous job of that, and if there’s anything I took, it’s being in that seat and having to be in command, make decisions, and make sure that everybody understands the message that’s coming from the top down and the standard that you want people to work to. I’ve got a lot of respect.
I don’t think people appreciate what he’s been able to do in the most competitive college football league for a long time, and when you start talking about what he’s been able to do, I think it’s pretty incredible.
Coach Saban, in 2015 right before Kirby was hired at Georgia, you said the guys you coached with for a long time start to feel like part of your family. A lot has been made of the Xs and Os of playing with former assistants, but what is it like to see someone go through the highs and lows of being a head coach and ultimately end up here?
NICK SABAN: Well, I’m extremely proud of anyone on our staff who goes on and does a good job. One thing that I’ve said is I always tell guys, and I told Kirby this when he left, be your own man, be yourself, do it the way you think it ought to be done. Don’t try to be somebody else.
I think he’s done a fantastic job of that.
What you all don’t understand is this guy was on our staff for, I don’t know, 10 years. Terry was there when his babies are born. I mean, you become a part of a family. That’s what you do when you’re together for a long time. I think there’s a special appreciation for those people in your family, the contribution they made to the success that you had, and you always want to see them do well when they leave because that’s what they worked hard for, and you’re glad that they got the opportunity.
And it isn’t personal when we have to compete against each other. I’m sure he wants a win for his players, and we certainly want to win for our players, and it’s not a personal thing.