Alabama assistant, Bainbridge native Smart eying Georgia or Texas Tech?

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Nick Saban might understand better than any coach in history that when a good job comes along for the taking -- you have to seize the moment.

After all, it was Saban who just three years ago steadfastly denied he would leave the Miami Dolphins to become the head coach at Alabama.

And as everyone knows, the Tide won the BCS National Championship on Thursday night against Texas, 37-21, with Saban at the helm.

So when reports started surfacing even before 'Bama was crowned Thursday night that Alabama' top-rated, bruising defense may just lose its defensive coordinator -- Bainbridge native and former Georgia star, Kirby Smart -- to either become the head coach at Texas Tech or even possibly take the same job at his alma mater in Athens, Saban sent a not so subtle message where Smart -- if he chose to leave -- would be best off.

"I'm always happy and interested for our coaches to be able to advance professionally, especially if it is a professional advancement in terms of a guy being a coordinator who can go be a head coach in a situation where he has a chance to be successful," Saban said during his final teleconference for the BCS title game before flying back to Tuscaloosa on Friday. "I'm not pleased when guys make lateral moves because it's a little bit human nature to think, like my dad used to say, the grass is always greener on top of the septic tank. You always think it's better someplace else. You kind of let your ego get involved, and you make moves that you shouldn't make and really aren't in your best interests for a career standpoint. So I'm not happy when guys do that. But anybody on our staff who can move up, we would like to help them do that."

Named the Broyles Award winner of 2009 for the nation's top assistant, Smart, meanwhile, has not spoken publicly about his plans for next year other than to tell ESPN.com during media day earlier this week for the BCS title game that he's "looking forward" to next year with Alabama because "we've got a lot of good players coming back."

If Smart follows Saban's advice and opts not to take the same position at Georgia -- where he played and his wife is a grad, and which curiously still has not hired a defensive coordinator after firing Willie Martinez more than a month ago, while multiple reports have surfaced that the Bulldogs are waiting it out to see if they can lure Smart -- the next logical step would be to head to a Big 12 school and compete in the very same conference which has challenged the SEC the past two seasons for the national title.

Although, late Friday, at least one Texas Tech official put a damper on those reports that the Red Raiders were pursuing Smart at all.

Guy Bailey, president of the school, told the university's Web site,

redraiders.com, that the reports of Texas Tech being interested in Smart were false and that he had "no intentions" of talking to the Alabama assistant.

"I didn't talk to him at all and didn't have any intentions to,'' Bailey said Friday. "Now, I think Kirby Smart's one of the best assistant coaches in the country and will be a great coach, but I didn't talk to him and had no intention to. I wouldn't have talked to anybody unless Gerald (Myers, Tech's athletic director) asked me to, and Gerald didn't ask me to talk to anybody.''

Texas Tech publicly said that it has discussed the job with interim head coach Ruffin McNeill, who coached the team to a 41-31 Alamo Bowl win against Michigan State after the school fired head coach Mike Leach days before the game. The Red Raiders are also talking to former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville.