kirby smart-nick saban-jermaine burton
December 4, 2021 Atlanta - Alabama's head coach Nick Saban and Georgia's head coach Kirby Smart shake hands after Alabama beat Georgia during the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game at during the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game at Mercedes-Benz Stadiumin Atlanta on Saturday, December 4, 2021. (Hyosub Shin /

Social media reacts to latest Kirby Smart-Nick Saban coach rankings debate

At the very least, Kirby Smart has considerably closed the gap between himself and Nick Saban in the past two seasons as far as who is the best coach in college football.

Saban still has the edge in both total championships, seven to two, and head-to-head, Saban is 4-1 against Smart, but Georgia has won the last two national championships. The Bulldogs went 15-0 this past season, while Alabama went 10-2. What’s more is that Georgia soundly beat both teams that took down the Crimson Tide.

A handful of college football coach rankings came out this week. Bruce Feldman of The Athletic still had Saban at No. 1, pointing to his long-term run. Smart passed Dabo Swinney and moved up to the No. 2 spot in Feldman’s rankings.

Stewart Mandel of The Athletic had Saban as 1A and Smart as 1B, showing just how close Smart is to catching Saban. Smart did become the first coach to win back-to-back national championships in the college football playoff era. Smart also has won as many national championships as Saban does since Smart arrived in Athens in 2016.

“Smart brought the Alabama blueprint with him to Athens seven years ago and became the first Saban disciple to build his own juggernaut,” Mandel wrote. “The Dawgs became the first team in a decade to win back-to-back national championships and went 15-0 despite losing 15 NFL Draft picks from their dominant 2021 team. It’s a testimony to his superb recruiting and development.”

Brad Crawford of 247Sports actually put Smart at No. 1 over Saban. Georgia did beat Alabama the last time the two teams met, as the Bulldogs came away with a 33-18 win in the 2022 National Championship game.

“Now you’re just trying to get fuel for Alabama,” Smith said. “Alabama’s a great team. I’m smarter than that, man. You’re trying to set me up for failure. Nick Saban is one of the best coaches ever, are you crazy? They will always be a contender. They will always be in it. I’m just going to stand up here and not say RTR, but I’m going to just say they’re a great program. If anything, Bama and Georgia are equally equivalent. I wouldn’t even say that, they have more rings than us.”

Alabama and Georgia are not scheduled to play each other this season but there is always the looming possibility the two sides meet in either the SEC championship game or a College Football Playoff game. With changes coming to the SEC schedule starting in 2024, we’ll likely get to see Smart and Saban coach against each other more often in the regular season.

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