Alabama defensive coordinator and Georgia head coach Kirby Smart — and, yes, he is both right now — could use a couple more hours in his day.
Smart, a former Georgia football player, was hired to be the Bulldogs head coach the day after Alabama won the Southeastern Conference championship. While laying the groundwork for his own program, recruiting and hiring coaches, he has also been preparing the Crimson Tide to face Michigan State in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Cotton Bowl on Thursday.
Smart said Monday the key to juggling jobs has been to compartmentalize. He said he has to be all-in with Alabama when it’s time to be with the Crimson Tide and to be all-in with Georgia when it’s time to work on building the Bulldogs.
“It’s really been a timing issue because, I mean, there’s a week where I was on the road recruiting, obviously, for the University of Georgia,” Smart said. “There’s a lot of focus there. And then we got to come back to Tuscaloosa and really focus on the Michigan State game during this recruiting dead period.
“It’s a time-management challenge. There’s only 24 hours in the day. There’s only so much you can do each day. And once you accept that and know that you’ve got to focus on the task at hand — which the task at hand is get ready for Michigan State — that’s what we’re focused on here.”
Smart said there is some overlap between the players he is recruiting now for Georgia and those he was recruiting for Alabama. He estimated about four or five guys are now hearing him pitch for the Bulldogs after he had also done so for the Tide.
Alabama All-America linebacker Reggie Ragland said he was confident Smart would stick with the Tide through its latest attempt to win a fourth national championship under coach Nick Saban. If Smart is distracted and worn down, Ragland hasn’t seen it.
“If anything, he’s coaching harder,” Ragland said.
Smart’s situation is far from unique.
Last year, Ohio State made its run to a national championship with offensive coordinator Tom Herman having already been hired to be Houston’s head coach. It worked out just fine for the Buckeyes.
Smart said he reached out to first-year Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn, who was defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks through the Super Bowl last year, for guidance on how to split time between two important gigs.
“And he talked about utilizing his time, cutting a couple hours out of sleep, getting up in the morning a couple hours early, working on the future job, and then allowing the same number of hours to go to his current game plan. And (I) tried to model myself after that,” Smart said.