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Is Kiffin’s Success Putting Kirby Smart in the Shadow?

 Is there room at Alabama for two assistant coaches to be in the limelight?

Is Kiffin’s Success Putting Kirby Smart in the Shadow?

By: Larry Burton

 

It wasn’t too long ago when Kirby Smart was the rock start assistant coach in college football. He was constantly being rumored to be the next big head coach hire from Alabama and Smart was given a good share of the credit for the successes that Alabama’s teams have had over the past several years.

Now, with the success that the Alabama offense is having, how two quarterbacks, virtually untested as starters in college football, have both done so well and a former running back turned quarterback is doing so much better than anyone dreamed was possible, Lane Kiffin has once again become a “rock star” assistant coach.

If you look at the sidelines during the game, Saban and Kiffin look joined at the hip for most of the game. Saban used to be near Smart during the game.

So is Kiffin’s success putting Smart, Alabama’s successful defensive coordinator, in the shadow?

Perhaps not, Smart isn’t making headlines like Kiffin for one basic reason, there’s nothing new going on defense. Despite the fact that Smart is still shuffling defensive backs around trying to find a healthy group that can shut down receivers, the defense just chugs on as always.

It’s easy to take Smart for granted, he’s expected to do what he’s doing once again this season. But Kiffin is raising eyebrows because he is doing what Alabama usually doesn’t do and that is something different. Kiffin has the offense putting up numbers like never before in the Saban era, but the real thing that makes him newsworthy is that everybody, well almost everybody, expected Kiffin to come in and cause some problems and stumble as he did as a head coach at USC.

They didn’t expect him to come in, groom not one one, but two “rookie” quarterbacks who had never started a game. They didn’t expect him to work his butt off and keep his mouth shut. They doubted that Saban could keep him on a leash and that he wouldn’t do something stupid as he has done in the past.

Therefore, Kiffin is legitimate news. Kirby Smart is just doing what he’s always done, nothing to see here folks, just move along.

When you’re a team like Alabama, there a lot of light being shown on that team. Of course Saban gets the lion share of it as he should, but certainly Kiffin is not taking the limelight away from Smart, it’s just different seeing a new player on the stage, especially one that came in with the fan’s lowered expectations and now doing so well.

Kirby Smart has not “slid down the list” on future coaches to be, but Kiffin is certainly getting noticed again and will be a hot coaching commodity again in the future thanks to not only his work on the field, but his work at cleaning up his image and decision making.

As a coach, we are not surprised that Saban knows and gets the players year in and year out, so why should we be surprised that he knows the best coaches to get? There’s room enough at Alabama for lots of stars, players and coaches and enough limelight to shine on them all.

Larry has been published in almost every media outlet for college sports and now primarily writes here for Touchdown Alabama. Follow Larry on Twitter for inside thoughts and game time comments at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter

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