ATHENS — Barring a last-minute snag in negotiations, Alabama’s Kirby Smart will become Georgia’s new football coach. An announcement could come as soon as Sunday or Monday.
Smart, 39, is the Crimson Tide’s defensive coordinator. He is from Bainbridge and was a UGA letterman (1995-98) and team captain as a senior.
He has worked at Alabama for nine seasons, helping the Tide win three national championships, with the team on the verge of another appearance in the College Football Playoff. The No. 2-ranked Tide will face Florida in the SEC Championship game Saturday. It won’t be until after Smart fulfills his duties in that game that an announcement would be made, people familiar with the negotiation told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Smart will hire his own staff, but is expected to retain some members of Georgia’s current staff, including running backs coach Thomas Brown and recruiting coordinator/wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon.
Smart became the highest-paid defensive coordinator in the country in June when he received a $150,000-a-year raise to $1.5 million. He has three years left on a four-year deal that includes a buyout thought to be in the range of $500,000.
Smart is considered a healing choice for the Bulldogs. Georgia’s fan base has been divided since Sunday, when Athletic Director Greg McGarity fired 15-year head coach Mark Richt. Richt was the fifth-winningest active coach in Division I football and had won an average of 9.6 games per season.