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Lane Kiffin: Kirby Smart is 'one of my first calls' when seeking coaching advice

On3 imageby:Andrew Graham11/08/23


Kirby Smart heaps praise on Lane Kiffin, Kamari Lassiter

Lane Kiffin, like anyone, has some folks he’ll reach out to when he needs a word of advice or some guidance. And that includes Georgia head coach Kirby Smart.

Smart and Kiffin, who face each other as head coaches for the first time on Saturday when Ole Miss travels to Athens, spent two years together on the Alabama staff as coordinators. And from those two years, Kiffin explained, they’ve built a meaningful bond.

“So, he’s one of my first calls a lot of times if I’m looking for advice,” Kiffin said on the SEC coaches teleconference on Wednesday.

Kiffin and Smart were the offensive and defensive coordinators, respectively, at Alabama together for two seasons: 2014 and 2015. And in the interim since, Smart has gone on to great success at Georgia and Kiffin climbed his way from a head coach job at FAU to a stint at Ole Miss, now in Year 4.

And not facing each other as head coaches has helped keep the relationship between him and Smart open, Kiffin said.

“With him in the [SEC] East, you’re not playing every year. Been here three years without playing him, been at FAU three years before that. So, he was at Georgia last year. Alabama, we still talk. I just think Kirby’s really smart and I really enjoy talking to really smart, intelligent coaches that you can bounce things off of or ask them how do they do things or how do they deal with a player issue or injury or something,” Kiffin said.

And as Kiffin explained it, the relationship is beyond just being professional buddies.

Smart was there for Kiffin when he had lost a head coaching job and was moving to work at Alabama, away from his family.

“I just really appreciate Kirby. We’re friends in the profession. Coaches don’t, all the times, do that. They may call someone for help on a coaching question, but I really consider him a friend that really helped me in a challenging time in my life, moving to Tuscaloosa, not being a head coach anymore, family not moving. And I really appreciate his friendship and help during that time,” Kiffin said.

Plus, he did offer one nugget about the time both he and Smart were at Alabama together, but left out the finer details.

“I will tell you, you can ask about the tug-of-war story, when we did tug-of-war on a rope during the players fourth quarter drills. Me versus him, and I beat him. But he won’t like that story if you ask him,” Kiffin said.

Smart dished on the relationship with Kiffin, as well

At Alabama, Smart explained, the two developed a strong relationship, and that he has a ton of respect for Kiffin.

“I have a lot of respect for Lane, I’ve told you that,” Smart said. “He and I shared seats next to each other at Alabama for two years, I guess it was, maybe three. I don’t even know how long we were there together because it all runs together, but a lot of respect for him as a coach.”

By the time Smart and Kiffin were the coordinators at Alabama, Kiffin had already been a head coach at three different stops. That included Tennessee and USC, as well as in the NFL with the Raiders. His experience became something for Smart to learn from.

“He was a head coach at a really young age. He taught me a lot of things about what he believes in being a head coach and doing it your way. He’s certainly had a unique experience in terms of the places he’s been able to work as a head coach, and he draws on that,” Smart said.

“There’s times we share ideas or GPS numbers or whatever, but there’s nothing outside of just a really good friendship and respect.”