The speculation that Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban would return to the NFL seems to have settled down, but now the rumor mill is cranking up over one of the Tide’s prize assistants.
Philadelphia sports reporter Howard Eskin tweeted last night that former Oregon Ducks and new Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly may be interested in Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.
I’m told #eagles Chip kelly hired oregon Asst HC Jerry Azzinaro as eag DL coach. Todd grantham georia and kirby Smart alabama int 4 DC’s
— Howard Eskin (@howardeskin) January 17, 2013
Smart has been mentioned for several college head coaching jobs, and interviewed with Auburn University administrators before Gus Malzahn was finally hired as their head coach. He also interviewed with the Arkansas Razorbacks, and was mentioned for the Tennessee position.
The tweet notes that Kelly might be interested in both Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs’ Todd Grantham. Both schools employ a base 3-4 defense, and Kelly has noted that he wants to employ an attacking defense with the Eagles.
“We’re going to play fast, we’re going to play hard, and we’re going to finish plays,” Kelly said.
Before becoming the Alabama defensive coordinator, Smart spent one season in the NFL, coaching safeties for Nick Saban with the Miami Dolphins.
It’s no secret that Smart wants to be a head coach. He has interviewed for jobs the last couple of years, and turned down other interviews that didn’t seem to be a good fit. Whether moving into the same role in the NFL is a natural progression at this time remains to be seen, but there’s little doubt that Smart will at some point move on.
Tide fans that dream of Smart stepping in to fill Nick Saban’s shoes once he decides to head to the lake for good shouldn’t worry. Smart will need head coaching experience somewhere before taking on the huge task of running the Crimson Tide football team. If moving to the NFL gets him closer to having that experience, that’s exactly what he should do.