Athens — Kirby Smart won’t be coming to Georgia as the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator, deciding after two days of deliberation to remain in the same job at Alabama.
Smart, a former Georgia player, explained his decision in written comments provided by Alabama:
“I think it was pretty well known that there was an opportunity to return to my alma mater as defensive coordinator,” Smart said. ”I wouldn’t even have considered discussing the position with any other school, but when it is a place I’ve spent some of my best years and had some great memories, I thought it was something I should discuss with my family and figure out what was best.
“After thinking about all the factors over the last couple days, we are going to stay at the University of Alabama. We love it in Tuscaloosa, have made some great friends here and I think we are building something special here at Alabama with Coach [Nick] Saban. I have learned so much in the time I’ve spent with Coach Saban, and every year I feel like a become a better coach.
“I’ve got a great deal of respect for Coach [Mark] Richt and the job he has done there, and the University of Georgia will also have a special place in my heart. Not only did I play there, but my wife played basketball there and we have a lot of friends at UGA.”
Smart had been considering a lucrative multi-year offer — reportedly for three or four years at around $700,000 per year — to return to his alma mater as defensive coordinator. His pending decision had been the subject of intense speculation among UGA fans over the weekend. Saban previously had expressed his disapproval of assistant coaches making lateral career moves.
“We’re very pleased and happy that Kirby is going to be staying here at the University of Alabama with us,” Saban said in a statement this afternoon. ”He’s done a fabulous job for us. He’s one of the finest assistant coaches in the country.
“You expect guys like Kirby to get lots of opportunities to do things, and we want to continue to help him continue to develop his career here so that when he leaves here, it’s going to be to be a head coach and probably in a very good situation. So we’re excited about that. We’re happy for him and his family. It’s very pleasing to us.”
Alabama is believed to have aggressively countered Georgia’s financial offer, but said it would not reveal Smart’s new salary until it is approved by trustees in the spring. Smart’s salary was around $360,000 in 2009.
Richt has been trying to hire a new defensive coordinator since the Dec. 2 firing of Willie Martinez and two other defensive coaches.
Georgia previously pursued two veteran defensive coordinators for the job, Virginia Tech’s Bud Foster and LSU’s John Chavis. Both opted to remain in their current jobs after having their contracts considerably sweetened.
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