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Kirby Smart Thoughts

  • This is lenghty so bare with me. Two things first. One I am not necessarily a fan of the announced head coach in waiting. Two I don't believe Saban is going anywhere until he decides to step aside for the lake.

    With those things in mind and all of this talk about Saban leaving, etc. I hope Saban doesn't leave for another 10 years but at some point, he will step aside and hand it over to someone.

    A year ago, I was not convinced that Kirby was ready or our administration would be willing to hand over the keys to an assistant if/when Saban leaves. I always thought Kirby would need to go elsewhere to "cut his teeth" and potentially could make a return at some point. The longer this plays on and the more I hear, I'm slowly buying into the fact that I hope we pay the man and keep him around for as long as we can and when the time comes, let him take it over.

    Kirby is a highly sought after assistant to be a head coach, given the # of interviews over the past 2 years and the fact that his name surfaces almost anytime an opening occurs. Smart has Ms. Terri's approval and Saban has continually talked about him at times as the guy on his staff he doesn't worry about and that thinks the exact same way he does. Almost a "mini me" or clone of Saban. Kirby has been in Saban's back pocket for quite some time now. The longest of any of his assistants that have head coaching potential. Saban's assistants have continually proven to be decent and good head coaches.

    So hypothetically speaking, Saban retires at some point. I made a list of coaches that I would be excited about or comfortable with taking over, intentionally leaving Smarts name off of it. Naturally, we could probably name our pick once Saban leaves. I thought about Bob Stoops, David Shaw, Pete Carroll, on and on. Then I put Smarts name on the list. Honestly, the more Smart has grown on me I'm not sure that I want anyone but Kirby taking over this program when Saban leaves. The continuity he would bring and basically having a Saban clone as young as he is, I believe that Smart would be my first choice. The culture would not change within the program, basically just to continue to move things along as they have been over the past 6 years.

    The longer he hangs around, I'm not so sure this may not be the plan behind closed doors. And from Kirby's stand point, he could be heir apparent to the best job in the country, right behind his mentor. I'm afraid that if he leaves and his successful elsewhere, it would make it harder to bring him.

    I say pay the man and keep him around for as long as we need to, so that when that day comes, our program will be in new, exciting young hands of a Saban disciple.

    What do you all think?

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  • If Saban leaves very soon they may give the keys to CKS, but I expect CKS to take a job elsewhere in the next 2-3 years. The good thing about that is if he does go somewhere we get to evaluate him as a HC. If he goes to say Syracuse or Ga Tech, or wherever, and he does well then we can hire him with more confidence. Either way works for me.

    This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by bamamba1989 19 months ago

  • BB2One

    I truly believe that if Coach Saban doesn't leave this year (assuming we go on and win the title again) for the NFL, he isn't going anywhere for at least another 5+ years....I put it at 5-10 years. By the way, I DO NOT think he is going anywhere this year so that tells you what I think, lol as if you care or think I know something others don't lol

    So, let's take this simply. Coach Saban will be the head coach of Alabama for another 5-10 years. NO chance Coach Smart stays as a Dcorr. for that long with us just to have the opportunity to potentially be the next head coach. And to be totally honest, I don't think that is the best path for him or for us going forward. CKS needs to go out and take on the head coaching position somewhere for the experience. He's ready, just waiting for the right job. The job that gives him the best opportunity to advance his career, have success, and grow as a head coach. He may in the next 5-10 years end up at two stops along the way???? Who knows for sure. But, then when the time comes for Coach Saban to step aside, if Coach Smart is willing and wanting the head job at Bama, he then can come and interview for it. The best of all worlds. We keep the exact head man as we should for another nice long stretch.....and CKS gets the experience he really needs prior to running a program like Alabama.

    *** No matter what success CKS has had here, it is NOTHING like being the head coach at a place like Alabama. Nothing. IMHO, he needs the experience somewhere before even being considered for this job. Then, we truly can see what he can be at the next step.

  • JoeRio

    I think you need to revisit the statement that Saban's assistants always make good HC. DDooley in particular.

  • Good angle. I thought about that and that's why I chose to put decent in there along with good. I'm not convinced that Dooley won't make a good head coach. The mess he took over at Tenn after Kiffin, I think was worse than many realize. Now, did he work miracles... No. But if given time, I think he would have panned out.

    Pelini is another I do not think is a very good head coach (decent maybe). But Fisher and Muschamp I would say have done pretty well so far and I would consider Smart to be in their tier of coaching talent.

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  • BB2ONE - I completed agree and expect Saban to be around for a good many more years. I was in your boat of thinking that Kirby must go elsewhere to test the head coaching waters before Alabama would consider him as a replacement later on. And I totally agree that the assistant experience anywhere is nowhere close to being the head coach at Alabama.

    Naturally, there are a lot of good coaches out there but a short list and I mean a very short list that would fall into my category of a Saban type coach. Smart being one of them as a long time assistant.

    If Kirby wanted to say as long as they'd let him and take over once Saban leaves. Would you be willing to roll the dice and let Smart go coach somewhere else with the possiblity that you may not be able to get him back?

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  • What we learned from the wilderness that we wandered about in since Bear's death until Saban (with a brief stop at the Oasis Stallings) is that we need somebody with a large personality. The common link between those three is that big personality - which left no doubt as to whose football program it was. They each were unique in the manner after they arrived there, but there is no question they were the Alpha Dog.

    What that tells me is there are a lot of people who want to be affiliated/have stroke over the program. They will run you over, not maliciously, but the effect remains. These individuals struggle to get their voice heard.

    So the question for Kirby is can a coach who has never been "The Man", do that at Alabama? A better way to look at is, would CNS have been ready for Alabama before he took over Toledo or even Michigan State? I think he did a lot of growing, so I'm not convinced of that.

    Kirby may have it right now. I don't know. But he can't be "the next Saban", because he will fall short and others will use that to get their voice heard. The "first Kirby" has to be the unquestioned leader from the word go. That is hard for a first time coach, who gets the job as much for his proximity and his lack of disruption in the process, as his ability.

    Ultimately the only guy I'm convinced who has that personality and cache is Jim Harbaugh. Doubt he would leave, but I'd make him say no.

    This post was edited by Outlaw 19 months ago

  • Outlaw - great point and great post. Didn't think about it from the side of personality. Agree that Harbaugh is one that would to be a top candidate in that case.

    I think you could argue both sides depending on how you feel. I have been the, no way we'd promote as assistant type until recently when I started trying to think through it all. Makes for interesting discussion.

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  • BB2One

    To be honest - YES. There is no guarantee Coach Kirby Smart is going to be a great head coach. None. I love the guy, please don't get me wrong. But, we are not last decades Alabama anymore. The day Coach Saban decides he's done we have a program set up for the next guy to win and win big for a few years just as it sits. If we miss on the next guy, we could lose a lot of what has been built up much too quick and be right back (not as bad mind you) but still having to find someone to build it back. Is THAT chance worth taking with someone who has never coached a day in his life as the head man? At Alabama?

    I do not want a guy who we don't know can win. We now once again have the program anyone would love to be in control of. We will be able to go and get the very best available when Coach Saban decides he's finished. The very best. Today, I can not say that Kirby is that. Not as a head coach. In order to hand him the keys to this program - he' simply needs to go prove it. If when that time comes he chooses not to come, fine. There will be others at an elite level we can bring in. LOL we all make fun of Les Miles a lot, rightfully so. But he has certainly kept LSU at an elite level since he has taken over. If not for a Coach Saban, he probably would have at least 1 Championship - actually probably 2 more by now. That's the point, when your the elite, you can't hand it over to someone you just don't know can do the job. shrug We can not MISS when the time comes for the next one. It would cost us way too much of what we have now.

  • BB2One

    One last quick note. There are so many examples throughout sports history where the long time great steps down - and his long time asst. takes over for him and the program simply falls well down from what it was. There is even a saying among some sports folks in basketball - never hand over your program to a long time asst - he's been a long time asst for a reason (g)

    I'm not in any way saying CKS is an asst because he can't get a job. He can. But the saying holds a lot of truth in it because you never truly know how much of the asst's success is really tied to the all time great???

  • I agree with most of you about not handing the program over to an assistant. We have been there and done that before with Dubose. Also Shula came in with no head coaching experience and even though he was a really safe choice at the time we needed a clean cut guy it didn't work out to well. I will always appreciate Shula for coming in and taking over a program that was in the shape that ours was at the time, but I don't believe that your first head coaching job should be at a program like Alabama. Just to much pressure and not given a lot of time to make things work, of course that is JMO..

    This post was edited by Atmsrus1 19 months ago

  • BB2ONE - More great points and I couldn't agree more that we absolutely CANNOT miss on the next hire. The program is running like a well oiled machine and will continue to do so with small tweaks and tunes. Hopefully all of this talk of the next guy is just that... "Talk" as I hope Saban stays around for a long time.

    Although it would be tough to justify an assistant taking over what Saban has built who is unproven, I do think there are some positives from having a guy who wouldn't change much of how the program is run now. But after thinking about it, the pressure on Kirby in that situation may be too much as the guy who is expected to grab the torch and run just the way Saban did; on top of all the other pressures that go with being the head coach at Alabama.

    Roll Tide and Merry Christmas to you and your family

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  • BB2One

    Yes a BIG ROLL TIDE....and Happy Holidays!

  • I have been told by someone privy to the conversation that PB jr. has said that just such a plan has been promoted that would see Saban move into the AD's role when Coach Moore retires...and perhaps still coaching another year in a dual role...and then moving Smart into the head coach's position. IMO, that would be awesome.

    Now, would Saban take the job? Who knows? For those who have speculated that Saban always likes another challenge, well this would certainly be it. And Saban has definitely demonstrated an enthusiasm for the success of other sports in the athletic department...both men's and women's.

    And please, no comparisons to assistants like Dooley or other former Bama promotions like Dubose. This wouldn't be remotely similar. Perhaps the greatest assistant Saban has ever had, who also happens to be one of Alabama's greatest recruiters...with his mentor, one of the greatest coaches on college football history, in the office right down the hall.

    This post was edited by airharper 19 months ago

  • I don't see him moving into the AD role. He's going to sit out by the lake and watch the ducks sh*t in the yard.

    On a serious note, it wouldn't surprise me for a plan to be in place to make Kirby the next HC when CNS does decide to step down, regardless if Kirby leaves for a year or two or stays as a silent "head coach in waiting". Silent meaning gentlemen's handshake and agreement behind closed doors.

    Roll Tide guys/gals!

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    The Dynasty is Here! Roll Tide

  • You may very well be right. But the Bama administration will make him officially tell them no before they interview anyone.

  • This may sound a little arrogant, but it is what it is:

    I think unless an opening happens at UGA or one of our rivals such as Tennessee, Auburn, or LSU, and they hire him, then I think Kirby is ours if we want him. UGA because that's his alma mater, and I think if he becomes the head guy at a rival school it would be difficult to navigate the diplomatic waters so to speak.

    I also think there may be a few other "nah, I'm good here schools" such as Oklahoma, Texas, ND, etc. These would just be a case of bidding wars, and also how contented his family is at their current location.

    Otherwise, I think he's ours if we want him.

    I think the second group of schools is small in number, and if I were say a Georgia Tech, South Carolina, Clemson, or Michigan State I would be fairly worried about keeping him.

    Just my two cents.

    This post was edited by strider696 19 months ago

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    "Nobility is not a birth-right; it is defined by one's actions" Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

  • thrill2k1

    If Coach Saban retires any time soon, I definitely want Kirby to replace him.

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  • well said I totally agree