Smart plans to be back at Alabama

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- Because Alabama coach Nick Saban doesn’t allow his assistant coaches to talk with the media during the season, we’d yet to hear from defensive coordinator Kirby Smart on whether he might be in play elsewhere next season.

He's certainly a hot commodity, and his name has been bandied about frequently the past month in connection with Georgia coach Mark Richt’s search for a new defensive coordinator. Smart played at Georgia, and his wife is also a Georgia graduate.

But on Sunday, Smart made it pretty clear during his scheduled news conference that he plans to be right back at Alabama next season.

“It’s been great having these players and doing this, and I’m looking forward to it next year,” said Smart, who won the Broyles Award this year as the top assistant coach in college football.

“I mean, we’ve got a lot of good players coming back. We’re losing a lot of good ones, too. But it’s something that’s special to be around, because these players bought in and they went through some hard times. Now they’re reaping the benefits, which they deserve.”

Smart made $360,000 this season as Alabama’s defensive coordinator. Look for his deal to be sweetened considerably, especially when you see what Georgia is prepared to pay for a defensive coordinator and LSU re-working John Chavis’ deal after the Bulldogs came after Chavis with a three-year deal in the $600,000 range annually.