If we are to believe reports, Kirby Smart is considering leaving as the highly paid defensive coordinator at Alabama to become the highly paid defensive coordinator at Florida, thereby forming “Team Bulldog” in Gainesville with Will Muschamp.
I’ll ask the same question now that I did a year ago at this time when Bulldogs coach Mark Richt tried to lure Smart back to Athens: Why would Smart do it?
Smart is a terrific coach. I know some believe he gets too much credit for Alabama’s defense because he works for Nick Saban. But if he wasn’t highly regarded, he wouldn’t be on Saban’s staff and Alabama wouldn’t have bumped up his contract to $750,000 a year to keep him when Richt phoned.
But Smart’s next move should be as a head coach. He’ll get offers, as soon as next season. We all know there will be some tenuous heading coaching situations going into next season.
If Saban, who has a reputation for burning out assistants, is driving Smart nuts, that’s a factor. If Florida offers to elevate his pay even more, that also would be a factor (although it’s hard to imagine the Gators paying Smart much more than he’s making now). Finally, there’s the opportunity for Smart to work with a close friend in Muschamp.
But if Smart leaves, he will be taking an enormous risk. We know Alabama is going to be a very good team again next season. We don’t know that about Florida. The outgoing Urban Meyer said the Gators are “broken” right now. There’s a transition period for any new head coach.
Mostly, we still have no idea how good Muschamp will be as a head coach. The fact he was the coach in waiting at Texas and deserved this opportunity doesn’t guarantee he will be a success. It’s a different job with different responsibilities when you’re the guy in charge.
If Muschamp struggles, his coaching staff slides down with him. Smart already is a hot commodity. He’s not going to become a hotter commodity in Gainesville.