Tide's Smart Is Top Assistant

Is there any wonder that Kirby Smart's name keeps popping up in the conversation about new head football coaches being hired at perhaps four Southeastern Conference schools this year? It's already known that Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee will have new coaches, and it's not out of the question that Auburn could make a change.

For the most part, the names being bandied about are men who are or who have been head coaches at major colleges or in professional football. Many of them seem to be unlikely to accept some of the openings.

The most prominent name among those who are not head coaches is Alabama Defensive Coordinator Kirby Smart.

And schools with head football coaching vacancies – current or pending – aren't the only ones noticing the job Smart has done for Nick Saban's Crimson Tide. The American Football Coaches Association, which has its headquarters in Waco, Texas, announced Tuesday that Smart has been selected its Assistant Coach of the Year.

In 2009, when Alabama went undefeated and won the national championship, Smart was named winner of the Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant.

Smart has been on the Saban staff for the past six years, including being defensive coordinator for the 2011 national championship.

Bama is currently 10-1 and ranked second in the nation. The Crimson Tide hosts Auburn at 2:30 p.m. CST Saturday, a game that will be televised on CBS. If Alabama wins that game, the Tide will move on to the Southeastern Conference Championship Game in Atlanta on December 1.

Under Smart's direction, the Alabama defense is one of the best in the nation. Alabama is ranked No. 3 in rushing defense (76.20 ypg allowed), No. 9 in pass efficiency defense (102.76 rating), No. 2 in total defense (247.80 ypg allowed) and No. 1 in scoring defense (11.10 ppg allowed) in 2012.

His defenses have helped Alabama win two BCS national titles in the last four years and five of his defenders earned All-America honors in 2011. Six players on the defensive side of the ball have been drafted in the first round in the last three years.

Smart has been coaching football for 14 years, the last six at Alabama.

Each year, staff representatives from NCAA and NAIA football-playing schools are asked to nominate an assistant for consideration. From those nominations, a winner is selected by the AFCA Public Relations Committee. The winners of this award were selected from Football Bowl Subdivision, Football Championship Subdivision, Division II, Division III and the NAIA.

The Assistant Coach of the Year award was first presented in 1997 and was created to honor assistant coaches who excel in community service, commitment to the student-athlete, on field coaching success, and AFCA professional organization involvement.

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