December 14, 2015

For one week, Kirby Smart could devote his full attention to his new job as Georgia's coach - complete with a hectic travel schedule for recruiting.

Now it's time for Smart to complete his duties as Alabama's defensive coordinator.

Smart said Monday he'll return to Tuscaloosa, Alabama on Tuesday as planned. Georgia hired Smart on Dec. 6 with the agreement he would coach Alabama's defense through the College Football Playoff. Alabama will play Michigan State in the Dec. 31 playoff semifinal at the Cotton Bowl.

Smart said his first week as Georgia's coach was no more hectic than he anticipated. He began building his staff by hiring three assistants, including offensive coordinator Jim Chaney from Pittsburgh. Most of his time was spent recruiting.

''I'm real excited about the way recruiting is going,'' Smart said. ''We've had a good week on the road. I got to see a lot of good players.''

One of former coach Mark Richt's top recruits, quarterback Jacob Eason of Lake Stevens, Washington, began considering other schools, including Florida, after Richt was fired.

Eason visited Georgia with other recruits this weekend.

''I think his visit went great this weekend,'' Smart said. ''I would like to think it did.''

Smart also hired Sam Pittman from Arkansas as offensive line coach and Alabama's Glen Schumann as a defensive assistant.

Chaney was Pitt's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Asked what impressed him about Chaney, Smart said ''Balance.''

''He's always been able to run the ball when he had to run the ball and been able to throw when he had to,'' Smart said. ''He's always been able to use the type of personnel he has. ... He takes his best players and gets his best players the ball. That's what football is to me.''

Georgia announced Monday former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer would not coach in the bowl game.

Smart confirmed he would like to retain running backs coach Thomas Brown as a holdover from Richt's staff.

''We're trying to work to keep him here,'' he said.

Smart said he had no timetable on filling his staff. He said ''a lot of my mentors'' advised him it was more important to make the right decisions on assistants for the long-term health of the program instead of rushing to make hires to protect the current recruiting class.

Bryan McClendon, the wide receivers coach, is Georgia's interim head coach for the TaxSlayer Bowl against Penn State on Jan. 2.

Georgia begins its bowl practice on Wednesday. Smart said he doesn't expect to be back in Athens for any of the Bulldogs' practices this month.

In an unusual twist, former Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has been hired to succeed Smart on Alabama's staff. Smart said the two may even share an office for a few weeks.

If Alabama advances to the national championship game on Jan. 11, Smart won't be able to return to full-time duties at Georgia for almost one month.

''January is going to be a critical time for recruiting, it always is,'' Smart said.

---

AP College Football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org

You May Like