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How Kirby has evolved from Saban, in one recruit

Comparisons between Nick Saban and Kirby Smart are natural and unavoidable, especially given that both play in the College Football Playoff today. (God help us all if they both win today.) One of the best we've seen is a deep dive by Yahoo's Pete Thamel, who shows how Smart's love of recruiting has led to a commitment by Georgia -- both in terms of man power and attention to detail -- that has allowed the Bulldogs to vault forward to join Alabama in the national elite.

The piece is chock-full of good stuff, but perhaps nothing more instructive than this:

So how has Smart elevated the program to compete at the highest level with Saban? It starts with working harder and smarter. The recruitment of Christopher Smith II, a four-star cornerback from Hapeville Charter in Atlanta, illustrates how a massive macro operation can deliver Smart’s preferred personalized touches in the micro.

Smith’s father, Chris Smith, said he’d met and interacted with Kirby Smart in person “at least eight times” before his son committed. That included games, unofficial visits and even a scavenger hunt on a recruiting weekend where taking a picture with Smart was an item. (“That was the most fun thing,” Smith said, “it’s those little things.”)

Smith contrasted that with Alabama, where his son visited five times. “We were recruited by Alabama for a year, and I only met Nick Saban one time,” Smith said. “It was like, wow, I didn’t feel like it was important enough for him to build a relationship with us. It means something when the head coach takes time out of his day to talk to you.”

Smart's Georgia has also loaded up interns and students to supplement their increased support staff, to the point where one group of students researches how a coach's recruit performed in his most recent game, another section of the staff produces a cool graphic to serve as the letterhead, and someone else stamps and addresses the envelope, so when a coach leaves the practice field to write recruiting letters all he has to do is look at the notes provided to him and pour them onto the letter waiting at his desk. That's it. He doesn't even have to lick the envelope.

Read the full piece here.