Alabama Football: Smart, Cignetti Prep for Big Decisions, Nick Saban Supports

Jonathan Fravel@jfravel135Senior Analyst IDecember 14, 2010

Alabama assistant coaches Curt Cignetti and Kirby Smart have been hit with high praise in the post-season, both being offered key positions at other institutions undergoing change in football administration and coaching staff.

Cignetti is currently being considered as head coach at Kent State. He has been tagged by the media as the leading candidate for the job, although a job offer has not been confirmed.

All ties lead back to head coach Nick Saban, long time friend of the current Director of Athletics, Joe Nielson. Nick Saban is an alumus of the Mid-America Conference school.

Saban's ties with Curt Cignetti run deep and far back, as a young Nick Saban was hired on to the staff of WVU by Curt's father, Frank Cignetti. Joe Pendry was on the WVU staff at that time, as well.

Curt Cignetti currently serves as wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator for the Crimson Tide.

The younger Cignetti joined the Alabama staff in 2007. He has been instrumental in signing three top five classes, two of those classes ranked in the top three in the nation. This year's recruiting class is currently ranked No. 2.

Success on the recruiting trail in conjunction with hard labor on the practice field by the coaching staff and players produced a national championship in 2009.

Entering his 29th year as a college coach, Curt Cignetti has never been a head coach. His career began at Pittsburgh in 1983 as a graduate assistant. He coached receivers at Davidson in 1985, was hired on at Rice to coach quarterbacks from 1986-88.

At Temple University, Cignetti coached quarterbacks from 1989-1992. He returned to Pittsburgh to join the coaching staff in 1993, coaching tight ends, quarterbacks and receivers through 1999.

In 2000, Cignetti joined the staff of North Carolina State serving as recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach. In 2003, he became quarterbacks coach for the Wolfpack and is credited with the development of Philip Rivers.

If Cignetti lands the job at Kent State, he will face the Crimson Tide in his head coaching debut. The Crimson Tide is scheduled to kick off the 2011 season at home against the Flash. A decision is expected by week's end.

Curtis John Cignetti was born in June 2, 1961. He attended West Virginia University and played quarterback from 1979-1982. He and wife Manette have three children: Curtis John Jr., Carly Ann and Natalie.

After four years as a player at the University of Georgia, Kirby Smart began his coaching career as an administrative assistant in 1999 at his alma mater.

He served as defensive backs coach and linebackers coach in consecutive years at Valdosta State in 2000-2001. Valdosta State was undefeated in 2001 during Kirby Smart's tenure as defensive coordinator.

Smart signed on as a graduate assistant at Florida State under Bobby Bowden and Mickey Andrews in 2002-03.

In 2004, Kirby Smart went to work for Nick Saban at LSU, after receiving a high recommendation for hire by former UGA teammate, and LSU defensive coordinator, Will Muschamp.

While Kirby Smart and Muschamp did not play together at Georgia, they coached together at Valdosta State soon after Smart graduated from UGA.

Muschamp was a walk-on in 1991, obtained a scholarship and played through 1994. Smart arrived on campus in 1995 and played through the 1998 season.

Smart returned to his alma mater in 2005, for only one year, to coach the Bulldogs running backs under head coach Mark Richt.

He was then rehired by Nick Saban, and worked once again with Muschamp on the defensive coaching staff of the Miami Dolphins, overseeing the defensive backfield.

In his move back to college football, Nick Saban offered a position to Kirby Smart to work along-side the Tide 2007 defensive coordinator, Kevin Steele.

Following Steele's departure to Clemson at the end of the 2008 season, Kirby Smart became defensive coordinator for the University of Alabama.

In 2009 Alabama led the nation in defense, and was undefeated largely attributable to the contributions from the defense.

Smart received the Broyles Award following the undefeated season, an award that recognized the most valuable assistant coach of the year. 

Kirby Smart was born Dec. 12, 1975. A native of Bainbridge, Ga., Smart is married to the former Mary Beth Lycett of McDonough, Ga. The couple are proud parents of twins, Weston and Julia, born on Feb. 8, 2008.

Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban has been instrumental in the development of many of the top coaches in the college ranks today.

Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher, Florida head coach Will Muschamp, Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley and Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio all have direct ties to the talented mentor and defensive innovator.

Saban has worked for and with some of the best coaches in the NFL and NCAA during his long career as an assistant and head coach.

This long list of mentors includes Don James, Frank Cignetti, Earl Bruce, Dennis Fryzel, Steve Belichick, George Perles, Jerry Glanville and Bill Belichick.

Saban takes pride in having developed a system that allows coaches as well as players to excel and advance to higher ranks of the profession. Saban has found a University that supports this endeavor and allows this football head coach to blaze a new trail in football education.

This is the University of Alabama. This is Alabama football.

Saban is in the process of fusing education and athletics through a program designed to send high achievers into the coaching ranks and the best players into the professional game.


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