As the top four teams in the College Football Playoff were being revealed, Georgia pushed the send button on their release confirming the hiring of new head coach Kirby Smart. The Alabama defensive coordinator will be formally introduced to the media on Monday at a press conference. Smart replaces Mark Richt, who has already accepted and been introduced as the new head coach at Miami.
Smart will reportedly be paid $3.75 million per year during the course of his six-year contract. For the sake of comparison, Georgia was paying Richt $4.1 million. There is no confirmation just yet on whether Smart will jump to Georgia right away or continue to help Alabama in the College Football Playoff. That decision may be made official on Monday, if not before.
“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.”
The release from Georgia also allowed Georgia Athletics Director Greg McGarity to finally address the logic behind naming Smart as the head coach following the dismissal of Richt, who clearly had some coaching juice still in him. McGarity refused to address the coaching change news during a press conference with Richt announcing the separation between the school and now former head coach.
“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,” McGarity in a press release. “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.”
Time will tell if Smart is the right coach for Georgia to reach a national championship pedigree, but the Bulldogs are clearly invested in the first-year head coach and banking on his years of experience as an assistant under Nick Saban.