ATHENS, Ga. – University of Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, a former player and coach at the University of Georgia, will be the new head coach of the Bulldogs according to an announcement Sunday by UGA J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity.
The decision was approved Sunday by the Executive Committee of the UGA Athletic Association Board of Directors. Smart will be introduced at a press conference in Athens on Monday.
“It was critical to identify a person who would focus on a specific, defined process of developing championship football teams on and off the playing field,” said McGarity. “Someone who understands the true meaning of a student-athlete by actually experiencing it himself — someone who competed at the highest levels on the playing field, was mentored by some of the very best in the game, and understood the specific ingredients necessary to excel at the highest levels of college athletics — Kirby Smart fits that profile. I believe Kirby Smart is the perfect fit for the University of Georgia.”
“I interviewed Coach Smart on Sunday morning, and, following that interview, I accepted the athletic director¹s recommendation to hire Kirby,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “I am pleased to welcome Kirby, his wife, Mary Beth, and their three children back home to the University of Georgia, and I look forward to supporting him in his new role as our head football coach.”
“It’s an honor and privilege to return home to the University of Georgia and my home state,” said Smart. “I’m deeply appreciative of the faith President Morehead, Greg McGarity, and the Athletic Board Executive Committee have demonstrated in asking me to lead one of the truly great college football programs in the country. I also want to thank Coach Saban. I have been fortunate to spend 11 seasons with him as my mentor and have learned a tremendous amount from him as a coach and teacher. I’m honored and excited for the opportunity at Georgia and promise high energy, effort every day, and hard work every minute on the part of all our coaches, staff and student-athletes.”
Smart, who got his start in coaching as a Georgia administrative assistant in 1999, has served on the Alabama staff the past nine years, the past seven as defensive coordinator. During his tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has won three BCS National Championships, three Southeastern Conference crowns, six SEC western division titles, and been ranked in the nation’s final top ten rankings the last eight years in a row. The current Crimson Tide team is expected to be included in the upcoming College Football Playoff. Smart was recognized as the 2012 AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year and the 2009 Broyles Award winner as college football’s top assistant coach. He is currently a finalist for the 2015 Broyles Award. A former standout defensive back and scholar-athlete at Georgia, Smart is one of the nation’s most respected defensive coordinators. Smart coached Alabama’s inside linebackers in 2015 after tutoring the safeties in 2014. He also coached the inside linebackers from 2009-12.
Prior to joining the Alabama staff in 2007, Smart spent the 2006 season as safeties coach with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. He served six years on the collegiate level as the running backs coach at Georgia (2005), defensive backs coach at LSU (2004), graduate assistant coach at Florida State (2002-03), defensive coordinator/linebackers coach (2001) and defensive backs coach (2000) at Valdosta State.