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On Dec. 6, 2015, Smart officially came home to Georgia. But he had unfinished business at Alabama, which was still chasing a national title. He juggled two jobs for a month until January 11, 2016, when the Crimson Tide won its fourth national championship in a 7-year span. Twelve hours later, he was in Athens ready to go to work. Smart is one of nine head coaches at schools from Power 5 conferences that are coaching at their alma mater.
In his first season leading the Bulldogs, Georgia extended its school record to 20 consecutive bowl appearances and posted four fourth-quarter comebacks including wins over No. 8 Auburn and No. 22 North Carolina. He led the Bulldogs to an 8-5 final record which included a victory over TCU in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
He has made an immediate impact in recruiting circles posting the nation's third-ranked class in 2017 following his first class in 2016 generally considered among the top ten.
Smart also oversees the Kirby Smart Family Foundation which is focused on being champions in the community by supporting and giving back to needy children and families facing adversity.
When Smart was named head coach he said “It's an honor and privilege to return home to the University of Georgia and my home state. I'm deeply appreciative of the faith President Morehead, Greg McGarity, and the Athletic Board Executive Committee have demonstrated in asking me to lead one of the truly great college football programs in the country. I also want to thank Coach Saban. I have been fortunate to spend 11 seasons with him as my mentor and have learned a tremendous amount from him as a coach and teacher. I'm honored and excited for the opportunity at Georgia and promise high energy, effort every day, and hard work every minute on the part of all our coaches, staff and student-athletes.”
Smart served on the Alabama staff from 2007-15, the last seven as defensive coordinator. During his tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide won three BCS National Championships, one College Football Playoff national title, three Southeastern Conference crowns, six SEC western division titles, and was ranked in the nation's final top ten rankings the last eight years in a row.
A former standout defensive back and scholar-athlete at Georgia, Smart was one of the nation's most respected defensive coordinators. During his time at Alabama, he coached players at three different positions, in addition to his coordinating duties. He was recognized as the 2012 AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year and the 2009 Broyles Award winner as college football's top assistant coach. He was also a finalist for the 2015 Broyles Award.
Prior to joining the Alabama staff in 2007, Smart spent the 2006 season as safeties coach with the NFL's Miami Dolphins. He served six years on the collegiate level as the running backs coach at Georgia (2005), defensive backs coach at LSU (2004), graduate assistant at Florida State (2002-03), defensive coordinator/linebackers coach (2001) and defensive backs coach (2000) at Valdosta State, and administrative assistant at UGA (1999).
Smart was the running backs coach on Georgia's 2005 SEC Championship team. His Bulldogs' unit averaged 162.2 rushing yards per game, third in the SEC. He coached Thomas Brown, Danny Ware, and Kregg Lumpkin—all of whom had NFL careers. In 2004 at LSU, he tutored two NFL draft picks: Corey Webster (2nd round, New York Giants) and Travis Daniels (4th round, Miami Dolphins).
As a player, Smart was a four-year letterman at defensive back for Georgia, where he was a first team All-SEC pick as a senior. He finished his career with 13 interceptions, a mark that still ranks fifth in UGA annals, and led the Bulldogs with six interceptions in 1997, five in ‘98. He led the SEC in interceptions during his final season. Smart also scored two points as a collegian. He was the first player in UGA history -- and one of just two Bulldogs since the rule was introduced in 1988 -- to return a blocked PAT kick for two points, having brought one back 88 yards against New Mexico State in his freshman year of 1995.
The 2015 Alabama defense ranked first nationally in rushing defense (75.7 ypg), third in total defense (276.3 ypg), and third in scoring defense (15.1).
His 2014 Alabama defense ranked fourth nationally against the run (102.4 ypg). The Crimson Tide ranked sixth nationally in scoring defense (18.4 ppg), while ranking 12th nationally in total defense (328.4 ypg). He helped junior safety Landon Collins earn unanimous first-team All-America honors while being selected as a finalist for the Nagurski Trophy, Thorpe Award and Lott Trophy.
Smart crafted another elite Alabama defense in 2013 after losing six more players to the NFL. The Crimson Tide ranked fourth nationally in scoring defense (13.9 ppg) while ranking fifth in total defense (286.5 ypg), seventh in rushing defense (106.2 ypg) and 11th in pass defense (180.3 ypg). Alabama was fourth nationally in red zone defense and fourth in fewest first downs allowed. He helped mold defensive leader C.J. Mosley into the nation's best linebacker and winner of the Butkus Award.
Smart retooled the Alabama defense in 2012, molding a unit that lost six starters to the NFL after the 2011 season. The Tide led the nation in total defense (250.0 ypg), scoring defense (10.9 ppg) and rush defense (76.4 ypg) while ranking seventh in pass defense (174.3 ypg) and pass efficiency defense (103.72). The Tide defense featured two first team All-Americans in cornerback Dee Milliner and linebacker Mosley. Milliner was a finalist for the Thorpe Award, presented to the nation's top defensive back. Mosley was a finalist for the Butkus Award.
The 2011 defense led the nation in all five major categories including total defense (183.6 ypg), scoring defense (8.2 ppg), rushing defense (72.2 ypg), passing defense (111.5 ypg) and pass efficiency defense (83.69 rating). Dont'a Hightower (a finalist for the Lombardi Award, Lott Trophy, Butkus Award and Bednarik Award) led the team in total tackles with 85 and was selected in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots.
Smart's rebuilding job in 2010 was impressive, as the Tide remained one of the nation's elite defensive units while replacing nearly the entire defense (nine starters). Alabama led the SEC and ranked third nationally in scoring defense (13.5 ppg) and fifth nationally in total defense (286.4 ypg).
The 2009 season was a special one for Smart, as he not only helped lead Alabama to the national championship but also took home the Broyles Award as the top assistant coach in the country. The UA defense again was regarded as one of the nation's top units, leading the SEC and ranking second nationally in scoring defense (11.7 ppg), pass efficiency defense (87.7), rush defense (78.1 ypg) and total defense (244.1 ypg).
In the 2010 BCS National Championship game against Texas, the Tide recorded four interceptions and scored a defensive touchdown. Three players on Smart's defense earned first-team All-America honors – linebacker Rolando McClain, cornerback Javier Arenas and nose guard Terrence Cody. McClain captured the Butkus Award and Cody was a finalist for several national awards.
A four-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll, Smart received his BBA degree in Finance from UGA in 1998 and his M.S. in Physical Education from Florida State in 2003. The Bainbridge, Ga., native played for his dad, Sonny, who coached Bainbridge High School from 1988-94. Kirby is married to the former Mary Beth Lycett of McDonough, Ga., a 4-year letterwinner, and 2-year starter, on the Georgia women's basketball team from 2000-2003. The couple met long after their undergraduate days at UGA, when Lycett -- then working in the UGAAA business office -- helped arrange Smart's trip to interview for the Bulldogs' running backs coaching job in 2005. They are now the proud parents of twins Weston and Julia (Feb. 8, 2008) and son Andrew (May 25, 2012).
Playing Experience: University of Georgia -- Four-year letterman at defensive back (1995-98)...1998 All-SEC first team...finance major and 1998 second team Academic All-America...13 career interceptions....Bainbridge (Ga.) High School -- Three sport letterman (football, baseball, basketball)...Class AAAA All-State as senior...16 career interceptions.
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