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Bainbridge native, 'Bama D-coordinator Smart wins Broyles Award

Photo by Paul Dehner

Photo by Paul Dehner

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Alabama defensive coordinator and former Bainbridge and University of Georgia star football player Kirby Smart won the Broyles Award on Tuesday as the nation's top assistant coach.

Smart's top-ranked Crimson Tide will play No. 2 Texas for the BCS championship next month. Alabama remained unbeaten by shutting down Tim Tebow and Florida in a 32-13 victory last weekend for the Southeastern Conference championship.

The other finalists this year were Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong, Boise State offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin, Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jeff Quinn and Texas Christian defensive coordinator Dick Bumpas.

All five finalists are headed to BCS bowls, and Florida's loss to Alabama is the only defeat for any of them so far this season.

"Those guys up there, they've got so much more experience, but it's based on a one-year deal," Smart said. "I'm just honored to have gotten it -- and hate it for them, because I think they're great coaches."

Alabama leads the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 11 points per game.

After winning the award, Smart reserved most of his praise for Strong, his SEC rival. Strong was a finalist for this award last year as well, when Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson won.

"I never even fathomed winning it. Charlie's done such a great job this year, and he's done such a good job for so long," Smart said. "I just knew Charlie was going to win it and really hoped he did, because I feel like I'll have another chance."

This might have been Strong's last chance, since he's considered a prime candidate to become a head coach sooner rather than later. Strong did say he plans to coach in Florida's game against Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl.

The final voting for the Broyles Award took place after Alabama's rout of Florida, which might have hurt Strong's chances.

"When you play a game like that, you've got to bring your 'A' game, and we just didn't play well that night -- didn't tackle well, gave up too many big plays," Strong said. "We get a chance to go play a good Cincinnati team and I think our players will be ready to go."

The Broyles Award is named for former Arkansas coach Frank Broyles. More than 25 of his assistants became head coaches. They include Joe Gibbs, Jimmy Johnson and Johnny Majors.