Examine Kirby Smart’s rise up the coaching ladder, and it looks pretty typical for the profession – almost a stop a year. After playing at Georgia from 1995-98 and then spending another year in Athens, Smart took his first coaching job as the defensive backs coach at Valdosta State in 2000. By 2002 he was a graduate assistant at Florida State, and then joined Nick Saban’s staff at LSU as defensive backs coach in 2004. He returned to his alma mater to coach running backs in 2005, then reunited with Saban as the Miami Dolphins’ safeties coach in 2006. That’s five moves in seven years. Again, pretty typical for the industry.
Then, in 2007, Smart followed Saban to Tuscaloosa – his sixth stop in eight years – and that’s when the moving stopped. It’s not as if Smart hasn’t been wanted elsewhere, either. He was offered the Auburn head job in 2012 – though the timing of his offer juxtaposed against Gus Malzahn’s offer is unclear, Smart was indeed offered the job – and could certainly have pursued head jobs outside the Power Five conferences had he found one desirable.
But he hasn’t.
“I’m not sitting here saying I got to go today in order just to take one to take it,” Smart said. “Every one of them says don’t just jump at the first one. If you get the wrong one, it will be the last one.” In an interview with Atlanta’s 680 The Fan, Smart noted that he takes pride in the fact that his six-year-old twins know only of life in Tuscaloosa.
Smart has been counseled by Joe Kines – who went 3-6-1 as Arkansas’ interim head coach in 1992 – and Kevin Steele – who went 9-36 as Baylor’s head coach from 1999-2002. Neither was a head coach after that.
With his status (and salary) as one of the very best coordinators in college football, and still being a year and a half shy of his 40th birthday, Smart reserves the right to change his mind, but for right now is more than happy in his current role.
“I could finish my career being a defensive coordinator and say, ‘Hey, he’s Mickey Andrews,'” Smart said. “I’d be happy knowing that I had success doing it and I was the best I could be at my job.
“If the opportunity knocks, then so be it.”