ATHENS, GA (WTVM) - A week after the University of Georgia announced the departure of one coach, they've announced the hiring of another.
Kirby Smart, 39, the Alabama Crimson Tide defensive coordinator, has been formally announced as the Dawgs next coach on Sunday, with a press conference coming on Monday.
The UGA alum will reportedly sign a six-year contract, filled with bonuses, paying $3.75 million a year, according to a memorandum of understanding released by the university. You can read the memo by clicking here.
Smart, the 26th head coach in the history of UGA football, was emotional at the beginning of the conference, thanking everyone, including former UGA head coach Mark Richt.
During the press conference, Smart said he would continue coaching Alabama through their playoff run, but begin recruiting for Georgia, as shown on social media Sunday.
You can read the full announcement here.
"It was critical to identify a person who would focus on a specific, defined process of developing championship football teams on and off the playing field," UGA Athletics Director Greg McGarity said. "Someone who understands the true meaning of a student-athlete by actually experiencing it himself - someone who competed at the highest levels on the playing field, was mentored by some of the very best in the game, and understood the specific ingredients necessary to excel at the highest levels of college athletics - Kirby Smart fits that profile. I believe Kirby Smart is the perfect fit for the University of Georgia."
UGA President Jere Morehead interviewed Smart on Sunday morning and approved McGarity's recommendation to hire Smart.
It was reported on Dec. 1 that Smart would replace Mark Richt, who was fired on Nov. 29.
"It's an honor and privilege to return home to the University of Georgia and my home state," said Smart. "I'm deeply appreciative of the faith President Morehead, Greg McGarity, and the Athletic Board Executive Committee have demonstrated in asking me to lead one of the truly great college football programs in the country. I also want to thank Coach Saban. I have been fortunate to spend 11 seasons with him as my mentor and have learned a tremendous amount from him as a coach and teacher. I'm honored and excited for the opportunity at Georgia and promise high energy, effort every day, and hard work every minute on the part of all our coaches, staff and student-athletes."
Smart's former boss, Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban, released a statement on Sunday, stating he's "really excited" for Smart and his family.
"He's worked really hard and has done a great job for the University of Alabama, and he's done a great job working for us for a really long time. He's really, really appreciated for his hard work and the contribution he's made to all of the success that we've had here," Saban said. "Not only in the good coaching and development of players, but the kind of person he is, the kind of recruiter he is and the kind of team player he is. I couldn't be happier for someone who is very deserving of an opportunity like this one."
Smart, a UGA alum from Bainbridge, GA, has been with the University of Alabama for nine seasons, according to our sister station WBRC in Birmingham. Smart was a four-year letterman as defensive back at UGA from 1995 to 1998.
Here's a look at Smart's history as a player and a coach:
THE KIRBY SMART FILE
- Birthdate: Dec. 23, 1975
- Birthplace: Montgomery, AL
- Family: Wife Mary Beth; Children: twins Weston and Julia (Feb. 8, 2008), and Andrew (May 25, 2012)
- High School: Bainbridge (Ga.)
- College: BBA Georgia '98
- MS Florida State '03
- 1999 Georgia Administrative Asst.
- 2000 Valdosta State Defensive Backs
- 2001 Valdosta State Defensive Coord.
- 2002-03 Florida State Graduate Assistant
- 2004 LSU Defensive Backs
- 2005 Georgia Running Backs
- 2006 Miami Dolphins Safeties
- 2007 Alabama Asst. Head Coach/Def. Backs
- 2008-15 Alabama Defensive Coordinator
- Georgia (1995-98) Four-year letterman as defensive back. First team All-SEC in '98; 13 career interceptions; four-time member of SEC Academic Honor Roll.
- Bainbridge H.S. (1991-93) Three-year letterman in football, basketball, and baseball; first team Class AAAA All-State as a senior; 16 career interceptions. High School Coach: Sonny Smart (father)
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