Georgia announced the hiring of Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart as its new head coach Sunday.
Smart coached Alabama's defense in the SEC Championship Game against Florida on Saturday and will reportedly coach Alabama in the College Football Playoff. The Tide play the Spartans on December 31 in the Cotton Bowl.
"It's an honor and privilege to return home to the University of Georgia and my home state," Smart said in a team statement. "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 played football at Georgia.
The 39-year-old coach has not been a head coach at the college level before. He got his start in coaching as a grad assistant with Georgia and has been the defensive coordinator for Alabama under coach Nick Saban since 2008. He was last at Georgia in 2005 when he spent a season as the team's running backs coach.
The school parted ways with longtime coach Mark Richt to pave the way to hire Smart. Richt is now the coach at Miami, where he went to school.
"It was critical to identify a person who would focus on a specific, defined process of developing championship football teams on and off the playing field," Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said. "Someone who understands the true meaning of a student-athlete by actually experiencing it himself – someone who competed at the highest levels on the playing field, was mentored by some of the very best in the game, and understood the specific ingredients necessary to excel at the highest levels of college athletics – Kirby Smart fits that profile. I believe Kirby Smart is the perfect fit for the University of Georgia."
Smart will be introduced at a press conference on Monday.
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