Kirby Smart Journey to Coaching Greatness
Over seven years, the rewards of winning back-to-back national college football championships (2021 and ’22), a 2017 CFP title game appearance, Southeastern Conference championships in 2017 and 2022, five SEC Eastern Division titles, 81 wins, and seven bowl victories are more than respectable. That’s what Georgia got in December 2015 when it hired kirby smart, a former Georgia player and the defensive coordinator at Alabama.
His influence, that of his coaching staff and players, and the hunger of Georgia’s fans has kept the Bulldogs in the national spotlight for seven consecutive seasons. The Bulldogs have won 33 of their last 34 games heading into the 2023 season.
For the second year in a row, Georgia won the CFP national championship and the Southeastern Conference. After going undefeated throughout the regular season and crushing LSU in the SEC championship game, the Bulldogs were given the top overall seed in the College Football Playoff. After losing to No. 1 Alabama in the regular season, the Bulldogs rallied to defeat No. 4 Ohio State in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl CFP semifinal. Then they crushed TCU 65-7 in the CFP championship game at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. In 2022, the Bulldogs were the only team in the country to finish in the top five in both scoring offences (41.1 ppg) and scoring defence (28.2 ppg) (14.3 ppg). In addition, two national titles and one Southeastern Conference crown were won by the 2022 senior class.
His 2021 team became UGA’s first national champion since 1980, the first since 1982 to go undefeated in the SEC regular season, a No. 1 national ranking by all the major polls and the first to win 14 games. It marked the fifth straight team to finish the regular season ranked in the top ten College Football Playoff rankings. The team set 21 school records, highlighted by the nation’s top-ranked defence. The third-ranked Bulldogs defeated #2 Michigan, 34-11, in the Capital One Orange Bowl in Miami and then No. 1 Alabama, 33-18, in the championship game in Indianapolis. The senior class also set the record for most career wins by going 45-8. After the regular season, Smart was named SEC Coach of the Year for the second time in five years.
Georgia’s championship season, they have enjoyed a fitting exclamation mark at the 2022 NFL Draught. The Bulldogs set a draught record with 15 players taken, including five defenders in the first round, led by the first overall selection, junior Travon Walker.
The Bulldogs of the year 2020 are Smart’s fourth straight team to make it to a New Year’s Six bowl game. The Bulldog senior class tied the record for most victories by one class with their Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl victory over unbeaten Cincinnati on January 1, 2021 (44).
Smart’s 2019 Bulldogs became the first team in school history to win 11 games or more for the third consecutive season. Georgia finished fourth in the final polls after defeating three teams in the final Top 15 CFP rankings: Notre Dame, Florida, and Auburn. The Bulldogs finished their season with a dominant win over Baylor in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Georgia finished the 2018 season with an 11-1 regular-season record, a second straight SEC Eastern Division title, and a CFP ranking as high as fourth. Georgia played in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on January 1, 2019, marking the program’s tenth appearance in the New Orleans classic.
Smart’s second season in 2017 was memorable, with an 11-1 regular-season record, an SEC title, a Rose Bowl Game (CFP semifinal) victory over Oklahoma, and advancement to the CFP National Championship Game. It was the Red and Black’s first conference title since 2005.
Wise and his players reaped the benefits of their successful 2017 season. The Maxwell Football Club named him George Munger National Coach of the Year, the Associated Press and SEC Coaches named him SEC Coach of the Year, and the AFCA named him Regional Coach of the Year. Roquan Smith was named first-team All-America and received the Dick Butkus Award as the country’s best linebacker.
Georgia made its 20th straight bowl appearance in Smart’s first season as head coach and posted four fourth-quarter comeback victories, including wins over No. 8 Auburn and No. 22 UNC. He led the Bulldogs to an 8-5 overall record, including an AutoZone Liberty Bowl victory over TCU.
As a Coach Assistant
When Smart returned to Georgia on December 6, 2015, he had unfinished business as defensive coordinator at Alabama, which was still chasing a national championship. He juggled both jobs for a month until the Crimson Tide won its fourth national championship in seven years on Jan. 11, 2016. He was back at work in Athens 12 hours later, where he is one of ten head coaches from Power 5 conferences coaching at their alma mater.
Smart had been on the Alabama staff for nine years, the last seven as defensive coordinator. During his time at Alabama, the Crimson Tide won three BCS National Championships, one CFP National Championship, three SEC Championships, and six SEC Western Division Championships. It was ranked in the nation’s final top 10 for the last eight years.
Smart coached players at three different positions while at Alabama, in addition to his coordinating duties. He was named AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year in 2012 and the 2009 Broyles Award winner as college football’s top assistant. In 2015, he was also a finalist for the award.
Smart spent the 2006 season as the Miami Dolphins’ safeties coach before joining the Alabama staff in 2007. He coached running backs at Georgia (2005), defensive backs 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 Georgia for six years (1999).
Smart was Georgia’s running backs coach during the 2005 SEC Championship season. He coached future NFL players Thomas Brown, Danny Ware, and Kregg Lumpkin. He coached two NFL draught picks in 2004 at LSU: Corey Webster (2nd round, New York Giants) and Travis Daniels (4th round, Miami).
Having Participated as a Player
Smart started all four seasons as a defensive back for Georgia and was named first-team All-SEC as a senior. His 13 career interceptions are still sixth all-time at UGA, and in 1997 and 1998, he led the Bulldogs in that category. During his final season, he had the most interceptions in the SEC.
Smart earned his bachelor’s degree in finance from Georgia in 1998 and his master’s degree in physical education from Florida State in 2003; he was named to the Southeastern Conference Academic Honour Roll four times.
The Intelligent Family
Mary Beth Lycett, originally from McDonough, Georgia, was a 4-year letter-winner and 2-year starting player for the University of Georgia women’s basketball team from 2000–03. Her husband is a native of Bainbridge. Long after both had graduated from Georgia, the pair finally crossed paths when Lycett, then working in the UGA Athletic Association Business Office, arranged for Smart to visit Athens to interview for the running backs coach position with the Bulldogs in 2005. They have three children: Weston (born February 8, 2008), Julia (born the following day), and Andrew (born May 25, 2012).
Kirby and Mary Beth Smart also oversee the Kirby Smart Family Foundation, which helps disadvantaged children and their families.
Kirby Smart is a highly accomplished American football coach known for his expertise in defence. He has had a successful coaching career as a defensive coordinator and as the head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs. Smart’s coaching philosophy emphasizes discipline, hard work, and strategic planning, which has led to notable achievements for his teams. Under his leadership, the Bulldogs have consistently been among the top-ranked teams in college football and have competed in major bowl games. Smart’s commitment to excellence and his ability to develop talented players have made him one of the most respected coaches in the sport.
Q: Who is Kirby Smart?
A: Kirby Smart is an American football coach who currently serves as the head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs football team.
Q: What is Kirby Smart known for?
A: Kirby Smart is known for his defensive expertise and his successful college football coaching career.
Q: Where has Kirby Smart coached before?
A: Before becoming the head coach at Georgia, Kirby Smart worked as a defensive coordinator for the Alabama Crimson Tide under Nick Saban.
Q: What are some of Kirby Smart’s achievements?
A: Kirby Smart has led the Georgia Bulldogs to multiple SEC championship game appearances and has guided the team to major bowl games, including the College Football Playoff National Championship game.
Q: What is Kirby Smart’s coaching philosophy?
A: Kirby Smart’s coaching philosophy emphasises discipline, hard work, and strategic planning. He focuses on developing talented players and implementing solid defensive strategies.
Q: Has Kirby Smart won any national championships?
A: As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, Kirby Smart has not won a national championship as a head coach. However, he was part of the coaching staff at the University of Alabama when they won multiple national championships.
Q: How has Kirby Smart impacted the Georgia Bulldogs programme?
A: Under Kirby Smart’s leadership, the Georgia Bulldogs have become one of the top-ranked teams in college football. He has recruited and developed talented players, and the team has succeeded in the highly competitive SEC conference.
Q: Is Kirby Smart still the head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs?
A: As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, Kirby Smart was still the head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs. However, verifying this information with up-to-date sources is always a good idea.
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