Alabama football: What Kirby Smart’s long-term extension means for Nick Saban

Georgia football head coach Kirby Smart’s impending massive extension will have major implications for Nick Saban’s Alabama football program.

After leading his alma mater’s Georgia football program to its first national title in 41 years, head coach Kirby Smart will be getting a massive extension in short order.

News of Smart getting a mega-extension comes as a surprise to absolutely no one. Georgia football is everything in The Classic City and throughout much of The Peach State. This is why University of Georgia president Jere Morehead has made it a priority to keep Coach Smart around … forever. Morehead expects Smart will receive his mega-contract extension “in the coming weeks”.

“It will be commensurate with what you would expect compensation to be for a national championship coach,” said Morehead to Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday. “We’re close to finalizing those arrangements. I don’t think anybody will be surprised.”

While Smart has earned every penny of the new contract he will be getting, what is the fallout for his mentor Nick Saban, as well as his juggernaut Alabama football program?

Kirby Smart extension: What does it mean for Nick Saban and Alabama football?

Though it seemed highly unlikely that Smart would ever leave Athens willingly, a major extension of this caliber pretty much removes any notion that he would bolt for the NFL, or even go back to Tuscaloosa as Saban’s successor. Smart will have job security unlike any other coach in college football. Not only did he win a national championship, but he did so at his alma mater’s program.

This will yield dividends for Smart and the Georgia program pretty much in perpetuity. Even if Georgia does not go on a dynastic run like Saban has over the last 15 years at Alabama, this is not going to be a one-off national title for the Dawgs. Look for Smart and the Georgia program to win a few more over the next decade. Simply put, Alabama will lose ground to Georgia because of this.

It will be increasingly hard for Saban and his Alabama staff to negatively recruit against Georgia. Sure, they will find a way because that is what the very best of the very best do: They find a way. However, the title bout in Indianapolis was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Not only is time not on Saban’s side, but Alabama looks to be fighting a recruiting war on two different SEC fronts.

As Georgia is now, Texas A&M is poised to become next. Jimbo Fisher’s Aggies just assembled the greatest recruiting class ever. Georgia beat Alabama in 2021 largely because of its No. 1 recruiting class in 2018. Look for Texas A&M to possibly win a national title once this recruiting class matures in 2025. Ultimately, this will be tiresome for Saban, but there ain’t no rest for the wicked.

There is no way around it. It is going to be challenging for Alabama going forward. Georgia is about as close to their equal as any team has been in the SEC over the last decade and a half. Texas A&M is on the come-up. What happens when Brian Kelly and Billy Napier get things humming in Baton Rouge and Gainesville? Let’s not even think about Oklahoma and Texas joining the league just yet…

The good news for Saban is he should have the best team in the Power Five this year. He has the best player in the sport in edge rusher Will Anderson. Bryce Young has as good of a chance as anyone to repeat as the Heisman Trophy winner, as he will be in his second season running Bill O’Brien’s offense. Georgia will be good, but will pull back. It will be either Alabama or Ohio State.

The best thing Saban can do is take it one year at a time and focus on the task at hand. Alabama does not need to look in the rearview mirror at Texas A&M, or even try to play “catch-up” with Georgia. If the Crimson Tide can stay focused and be the best version of itself, Alabama will not only win the SEC again, but will get back to the national championship and win the whole thing.

Smart’s pending extension changes the game again, but Saban and Alabama know all the rules.

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