WATCH: Kirby Smart’s Final Press Conference in Tuscaloosa
Kirby Smart’s time at Alabama is almost at an end.
But ultimately, he didn’t leave town before meeting with the media at least one more time.
The longtime Crimson Tide defensive coordinator made a rare media appearance as a part of the team’s on-campus media day Wednesday to preview Monday’s College Football Playoff National Championship against Clemson.
Before ending his nine-year run in Tuscaloosa and officially transitioning into a full-time role as Georgia’s head coach, Smart will coach his final game with Alabama against the No. 1-ranked Tigers. And if the Crimson Tide hopes to win the national championship again for the fourth time in seven seasons, Smart, who has been among the handful of constants during head coach Nick Saban’s tenure, will have a part to play.
“We’ve been in some different ones,” said Smart, who believes another Tide national championship with help his new Bulldogs program. “You’ve been in there with the LSU, kind of tight, bunched up, running at you. Texas was a little bit spread. And then Notre Dame spread it out some.
“These guys (Clemson) are probably the fastest tempo we’ve played in a championship game, so they create a lot of challenges for us because they’ve got a lot of formations, a lot of space plays, a lot of good skill players, so it creates kind of a new dynamic in this situation for us to be able to stop those guys.”
During the roughly 10-minute-long presser, Smart answered numerous questions about Clemson’s Deshaun Watson and how they are preparing for the dual-threat quarterback who finished third in this season’s Heisman Trophy voting behind Alabama’s Derrick Henry and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey.
It was in response to one of those questions when Smart went as far as to liken Watson to former SEC dual-threat quarterbacks Nick Marshall and Johnny Manziel but Cam Newton, as well.
“The mixture of those three guys, he takes a little bit from each one,” Smart said.
Due to his unusual current state as a coach at two different SEC schools, Smart was even asked how he’s handled working double duty over the past month since Georgia hired him on Dec. 6.
“It’s tough to manage both, but I take pride in giving the same amount of time I’ve always given to the Alabama players of gameplanning, adjusting,” Smart said. “But certainly when I would have been recruiting for Alabama on the phone or Internet, Twitter, I spend all that time on Georgia with the recruiting.
“Because at the end of the day, coaches are still recruiting here for Alabama just like I’m recruiting for Georgia, so that time gets offset. But as far as the commitment to the players, it hasn’t dropped any. If anything, I’m trying to make sure they know I’m giving them everything I’ve got every day and a lot of energy out there.”
(Thanks to WIAT42 in Birmingham for the video.)