Alabama Football: Why There Is No Way Nick Saban Can Hang on to Kirby Smart

Randy ChambersAnalyst IJanuary 9, 2013

Jan 4, 2013; Fort Lauderdale FL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Kirby Smart during a press conference for the 2013 BCS National Championship game at Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama has added another crystal football to the trophy case, and with the success comes guys that will be looking for better opportunities. Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart has been on the radar for quite some time now to become a head coach of his own team.

He is considered one of the brightest minds in college football without a head coaching job, and with his youth, he has a lot of upside for a program that is actively searching.

Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide won't be able to keep Smart on the staff much longer with the success the program is having.

It is only a matter of time before Smart bolts for a new position outside of Tuscaloosa.

He Can't Stick Around Forever

Smart has been with Alabama since 2007, when Saban first stepped on campus as well. The two have also spent time together with the LSU Tigers and the Miami Dolphins. He has built the reputation of being the best assistant coach in the country, but he will remain in the shadow of Saban until he is able to spread his wings and find his own head coaching job.

He is paid like one of the best guys in the business, but majority of the credit for all of these national championships goes to Saban. Even though Smart calls the shots on the defensive side of the ball and has put together a remarkable track record, it is the head coach that will always remain king when judging the overall accomplishments of a team.

Smart is only 37 years old and still has more than enough time to make a name for himself as a head coach. However, with a handful of national titles under his belt and enough assistant coach awards to fill a small bedroom, it is time to earn a new nickname and no longer be looked at as Saban Jr. 

He's Already Looking

Some coordinators are happy being just that and enjoy playing the background, while the head coach has to deal with all of the extra stuff that has little to do with the Xs and Os. Smart has to be thrilled to have the privilege of coaching at a successful school such as Alabama and having a guy like Saban on his side, but he isn't somebody that is content with being a coordinator.

He looked at the Georgia defensive coordinator position a couple of years ago, but he ended up turning it down to stay in Tuscaloosa. It may have been the same position he has now, but with Mark Richt on the hot seat at the time, it was a position that could have possibly led to a head coaching job.

Smart also recently interviewed with Auburn for the head coaching vacancy just last month. Turning that job offer down seemed to be the right thing to do, as he would have remained in Saban's shadow and would have had to compete against him in the same division.

But even with these turned-down offers; Smart still has the urge to be a head coach, as he told Tim Rohan of the New York Times:

My career goal is to be a head coach. Smart said. Where that is, I have no idea. It’s not like I wake up every day trying to leave Alabama. I said this last year at my press conference: I have the best non-head coaching job in the country because I’ve got great administration, we’ve got great facilities.

I want to be where I can win. And I know you can win at Alabama.

Smart is in a comfortable position at Alabama, but it is only a matter of time before he leaves to roam the sidelines for a school of his own.

That Dream Job Could Open Up

It is clear that Smart is waiting for the perfect opportunity to present itself. He isn't a foolish guy that is going to jump at the first offer that is thrown on the table just because it is a head coaching job that has a lot of dollar signs behind it.

He recently told Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal Constitution that he is waiting for the right gig to open up.

I definitely think I’m ready to take the next step. Smart said. It’s gotta be the right place, the right opportunity. That hasn’t really presented itself. I’m completely happy being the defensive coordinator at Alabama. It’s the greatest non-head coaching job in the country.

So what could that right job possibly be?

Well, there is a program out west called USC that could soon be looking for a new guy to run its program with Lane Kiffin stinking it up. The current Trojans head coach has got to be on the hot seat heading into the 2013 season and could soon be on the unemployment line if things don't turn around.

Like Alabama, USC is a traditional powerhouse that has no problem attracting top-tier talent. He would be able to step in right away and compete not only for conference titles, but national championships in no time. It would also get him far out of the Saban shadow, considering he would be on the complete opposite side of the country. If the USC job does open up, it would be a lot tougher to turn down than the other jobs he showed interest in.

Other jobs that could be attractive are Maryland with the move to the Big Ten, Texas once Mack Brown decides to hang them up, or even Missouri, as Gary Pinkel may be on his last leg with the program.

Smart has waited for the right chance to pounce on a head coaching job, and with a few more programs likely looking for a new head coach soon, Smart will have plenty of great offers to choose from.


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