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Kirby Smart to Georgia? It can happen

Cedric Mason- Touchdown Alabama Magazine

The coaching carousel in college football is at an all-time high. Just two weeks ago, LSU fans wanted nothing to do with Tigers’ head coach Les Miles and his odd ball antics. Rumors of him being fired through a potential buyout surfaced on the Internet. Regardless of such allegations, Miles will remain at the helm according to LSU’s athletic director Joe Alleva. Regular season play ended for the Tigers (8-3) last week against Texas A&M.

Georgia head coach Mark Richt, unlike Miles, was not granted the same mercy.

The 55-year-old was fired Sunday by Bulldogs’ athletic director Greg McGarity after defeating Georgia Tech 13-7 last week. Richt guided Georgia to winning season in 15 of 16 years and posted a 145-51 record. He won two Southeastern Conference championships in 2002 and 2005. Richt will handling coaching duties in Georgia’s bowl game, prior to leaving. The Bulldogs ended regular season play at 9-3, but can get 10 wins.

It would be the eighth time in Richt’s era that a 10-win season is reached.

Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart becomes Georgia’s No. 1 target with Richt gone. Postseason success is what Bulldog fans crave and Smart has accomplished that Alabama. He has witnessed five SEC West titles, three SEC championships and three national titles in eight seasons under head coach Nick Saban.

With all this being noted, Smart is also a Georgia graduate.

Smart, 39, was a standout at defensive back for the Bulldogs from 1995-98. He was a first-team All-SEC selection as a senior and ended his career with 13 interceptions, ranking him fourth all-time in program history. He led Georgia’s defense in interceptions with six in 1997 and five in 1998. Smart was a four-time member of the SEC Academic Honor roll and graduated in 1999 with a degree in finance.

Smart returned to Georgia in 1999 as an administrative assistant.

He would later go to Valdosta (Ga.) State where his coaching career started at defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator. Trips to Florida State (graduate assistant) and LSU (defensive backs coach) would follow, until Smart came back to Georgia in 2005 as a running backs coach. The Bulldogs averaged 162.2 yards per game rushing and finished as conference champions with a 10-3 record. He has been by Saban’s side since 2006 (Miami Dolphins), and despite not having head coaching experience, Georgia will take what it can get.

Richt was an exceptional recruiter and a character guy, but 10-win seasons only last so long.

Fans that see consistent championship programs like Alabama lust for that with their team. Richt has not reached that plateau since 2005. While Smart is a hot topic, Georgia is also looking at Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen. He accomplished two national titles at Florida (2006, 2008) and molded two quarterbacks, Tim Tebow and Dak Prescott. Mullen has made Mississippi State a respectable competitor in the SEC in six of seven seasons, since coming in 2009. A steady balance on offense plagued Georgia this season, especially with struggles at quarterback. An offensive mind to pair with coordinator Brian Schottenheimer would be ideal.

A move will be made soon, but Smart is focused on finishing the season with Alabama.

Defense wins championships and he comes from the best where discipline is concerned. If Smart is to leave, Saban would either bump Mel Tucker to defensive coordinator or bring Jeremy Pruitt back to Tuscaloosa.

Pruitt was at Alabama (2007-12) as a secondary coach. He was a part of three national championships.

Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama MagazineYou can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.

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Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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