Monday night, Nick Saban will be coaching in his seventh national championship game, while Kirby Smart will be leading his first team in a title game. But one anonymous coach actually gives Smart a slight edge over Saban.
In a piece by Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel, one anonymous coach gave Smart the theoretical advantage over his former boss, in part because while Smart knows what Saban is like as a coach, Saban doesn’t really know how Smart operates.
“I think Kirby has the upper hand in this,” the coach said. “Kirby knows Nick like a book, where Nick knows Kirby, but he doesn’t know him as a head coach.”
Sabana and Smart have spent a lot of time together on the same sideline. Smart worked with Saban at LSU, with the Miami Dolphins and, of course, at Alabama. Smart was the Crimson Tide’s defensive coordinator from 2008-15.
A number of staff members have familiarity with each other in this game. Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker also worked at Alabama. And Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt worked at Georgia with outside linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer, and the two will team together at Tennessee beginning Tuesday.
It’s an interesting point to bring up, but for anyone to suggest that anyone has a theoretical advantage or upper hand over Nick Saban is rather ludicrous. The man hasn’t lucked his way into five national championships, including four since 2009. It’s also worth pointing out that Saban is 11-0 against his former assistants.
Smart and Saban will match wits for the first time on Monday night in Atlanta. Kickoff for the game is set for 8:17 ET. ESPN will televise the game.