Sport Georgia's Kirby Smart took one big lesson from Nick Saban: Don't be Alabama, be better

16:00  08 january  2018
16:00  08 january  2018 Source:   Sporting News

Alabama opens as 4-point favorite over Georgia in title game

  Alabama opens as 4-point favorite over Georgia in title game Fresh off its dominant win over Clemson in the Sugar Bowl, Alabama has been installed as a four-point favorite over Georgia in the national championship game by Jeff Sherman of the Westgate Superbook. It marks the third straight season that the Crimson Tide have appeared in the championship contest, with Alabama favored in the previous two as well. Clemson was the opponent in each of the previous two contests with both teams splitting one win apiece. The matchup with Georgia means Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban will face his longtime assistant, Kirby Smart.

Alabama coach Nick Saban passed along some timely advice when Kirby Smart took the Georgia job after a national championship run in 2015.

LOS ANGELES | Kirby Smart interviewed to join Nick Saban ’ s staff for the first time at the airport Smart said Saban ’ s tendencies and strengths “ are recruiting really good players that are really big Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt served in the same position at Georgia in 2014 and

ATLANTA — Alabama coach Nick Saban passed along some timely advice when Kirby Smart took the Georgia job after a national championship run in 2015.

"I told Kirby this when he left," Saban said before a pause during Sunday's joint press conference at the Atlanta Sheraton Hotel. "Be your own man, be yourself. Do it the way you think it ought to be done. Don't try to be somebody else."

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Can Kirby Smart break the Nick Saban assistant curse?

  Can Kirby Smart break the Nick Saban assistant curse? As far as curses go in sports, being an assistant to Nick Saban may not be the most famed, but none will be more relevant this week when Saban's Alabama Crimson Tide meets the Kirby Smart led-Georgia Bulldogs in Monday's CFP National Championship.It's no surprise a number of assistants have emerged from Saban's staff to carve out roles for themselves as head coaches, but the peculiar thing is, not a single pupil has managed to beat the master. In eleven meetings with their former boss, Saban's assistants have swung and missed each and every time.

Nick Saban and Kirby Smart take different approaches to recruiting new talent. Alabama ' s had the No. 1 class for seven straight seasons in the 247Composite rankings. Smart had a big part of that before going to Georgia two seasons ago.

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart , left, and Alabama head coach Nick Saban arrive for a press conference ahead of the NCAA college football national championship in Atlanta, Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018.

Maybe it's time everybody else does, too. It's easy to pass off Georgia as the next-gen Alabama heading into Monday night's College Football Playoff championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. It's easy to compare this all-SEC matchup to the Galactic Empire playing the First Order. It's easy to play off the teacher-student relationship between Saban and Smart, an Alabama assistant for nine years during four of those national championship runs.

It's a lot more difficult to beat Alabama, and that's best illustrated by Saban's 11-0 record against former assistants. That's the trend Smart will try to break on Monday. Smart can build like Alabama. He can recruit like Alabama — which happened in this cycle.

To get a feel for what Smart is building, however, listen closely to one of his star players. Butkus Award winner Roquan Smith was asked about being billed as the next Alabama at Media Day on Saturday.

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"We don't think about (it) like that," Smith said. "We're Georgia. We're not caught up in this or that. We are who we are, so we're not worried about anything else."

Smart, however, still had to answer that question one more time. What was the biggest lesson he learned under Saban?

"Probably the single greatest thing is the level of commitment to the organization and holding it to that standard," Smart said. "That's a lost art in some organizations. You see successful business organizations run that way, but you don't always see athletic programs run that way."

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College football hasn't seen anything quite like the Alabama dynasty, which can add a fifth national championship in nine years with a victory against the Bulldogs. Smart, meanwhile, inherited a Georgia program starved for its first national championship since 1980.

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There's no getting around it: One of the biggest storylines ahead of Alabama and Georgia ' s game in the College Football Playoff championship will be the relationship between Nick Saban and former assistant Kirby Smart .

ATLANTA – Alabama coach Nick Saban and Georgia coach Kirby Smart addressed reporters for a final time Sunday morning, the day before they'll meet in the College Football Playoff national championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

A group of senior players led by Smith, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel returned, and Smart has parlayed that into the nation's top recruiting class. That's the biggest indicator that we'll see this matchup in Atlanta a few more times in the SEC championship. Depending on how long Saban stays at Alabama, this could turn into a teacher-student rivalry in the mold of Woody Hayes-Bo Schembechler.

Those two icons engaged in the "Ten-Year War," but they never faced each other in a national championship game. For that kind of thing to take off between Saban and Smart, Georgia must win — much like Michigan did with the legendary 24-12 upset in 1969. That set the tone for a chapter in that rivalry that still resonates today. This doesn't feel like that, at least not yet.

Saban spoke about his wife, Terry, being at the hospital when Smart's children were born. Saban even pulled out a loose reference from "The Godfather."

"It isn't personal when we compete against each other," Saban said. "I'm sure he wants to win for his players, and we certainly want to win for our players, and it's not a personal thing.

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In fact, Nick Saban ’ s name came up before Smart even mentioned his parents and wife. After all, it was the Saban influence that caused Smart to admit that staying at Alabama was a better Asked again how much he took from Saban and Alabama , Smart said his former boss is “process-oriented.”

Jul 24, 2016. Nick Saban , Kirby Smart , and Pattern-Match Coverages. How long will it take Kirby Smart to install his defense at Georgia ? Smart , Saban ’ s longest serving assistant, has followed Saban like the pied-piper; from LSU, to Miami and then to Alabama . Smart is , well , smart .

"I hate to lose, and I've been around Kirby long enough and he's been on my basketball team long enough that I know he hates to lose, too. I think that has something to do with it."

At that point, Smart laughed.

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Then Saban and Smart talked about their pregame rituals (both teams will see a movie Sunday night) and the usual talking football points (running the football, stopping the run, turnover-free football and special teams). That's how both Alabama and Georgia got here, and in that respect, the Bulldogs have followed the model.

Alabama remains the standard. Saban still answers questions in these press conference settings last, especially against former assistants. He's the tone-setter. That's the trend Smart will try to break. To do that, Smart can't be Saban, and Georgia can't be Alabama.

The Bulldogs have to be better. If you listen closely to Smart, then you can understand why he's on the right track.

"If there's anything I took, it's being in that seat and having to be in command," Smart said. "Make decisions, and make sure that everybody understands the message that comes from the top and the standard you want people to work to."

Related slideshow: Alabama vs. Georgia: The names to know (Provided by Yardbarker)

Nick Saban: <p>Arguably the greatest college football coach ever, Saban's team is playing in its third consecutive College Football Playoff final. Saban has won four national championships at Alabama and one at LSU.</p> Alabama vs. Georgia: The names to know

Report: Hugh Freeze visits Alabama football program .
Nick Saban may lose his top assistants every season, but he goes right back to restocking with some of the best available coaches. And this year may not be an exception. According to The Tuscaloosa News, former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze was in Alabama on Monday and was in the Crimson Tide’s football building. The nature of his visit is unclear, but some think it could be in connection to the Tide's offensive coordinator vacancy.In addition to losing defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt to Tennessee, Alabama just lost offensive coordinator Brian Daboll to the Buffalo Bills.

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