ATLANTA - The man expected to become the next head football coach at the University of Georgia is back on Georgia soil.
Alabama Defensive Coordinator Kirby Smart arrived with members of the Alabama team, coaches and staff on 5 team buses just before 3 p.m. Friday at a hotel near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
FOX 5 cameras rolled as Smart picked up his room material before going into a team meeting.
Alabama players left the hotel for a 4:30 p.m. walk-through at the Georgia Dome, the day before the S.E.C. Championship game.
Alabama which won the West Division hopes to defend its S.E.C. Championship against Eastern Division champions Florida.
FOX 5 and various media outlets have reported that Smart, 39, will be named as Georgia’s new coach as early as Saturday night.
Smart is a native of Bainbridge where he played high school football for Bainbridge High School. He was a four-year letterman at defensive back for Georgia and a first time All-SEC selection as a senior. Smart also served as Georgia’s running backs coach in 2005.
Since 2007, Smart has been a member of Nick Saban’s staff at the University of Alabama. Since 2008, he has served as the Tide’s Defensive Coordinator. He was awarded the Broyles Award in 2009 as the nation’s best assistant coach, and recognized as the 2012 AFCA FBS Assistant Coach of the Year.
During a press conference Friday, Coach Saban got a little choked up as FOX 5's Justin Felder asked him about how Smart evolved as a coach under his direction. Saban said "he's as good of an assistant coach and as loyal of an assistant coach I've ever had." Saban followed up to the questioning likening him to a member of his own family and said he was "always happy to see anyone on our staff who has done a great job for us get the opportunity that they worked so hard for."