AUBURN -- Athletic director Jay Jacobs and the school's search committee are on the road today beginning the final stage of their search for a new football coach.
Interest has been gauged. A list has been formed.
Now it's time to talk business.
Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart will be one of the first men interviewed by the committee. The Crimson Tide's defense has been nothing short of phenomenal since the 2008 season, which has given Smart the deserved reputation of defensive guru.
Still, he's working for coach Nick Saban, himself an accomplished and bright defensive mind. Does the Tide's remarkable defensive reputation automatically make him a prime candidate to run his own top-tier program? Or is his success merely a reflection of another source of light?
Let's take a deeper look into that question:
He grew up in Bainbridge, Ga., played defensive back at Georgia and coached the Bulldogs' tailbacks in 2005. Every other significant moment of his coaching career has been tied to Nick Saban - working with defensive backs at LSU (2004), safeties with the Miami Dolphins (2006) and the Crimson Tide's defense since 2007.
His collaborations with Saban have been nothing short of fantastic. After struggling through a messy first season in Tuscaloosa - lack of talent was the biggest issue - Smart and Saban's dream of a quick and tough 3-4 base defense materialized.
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