Kirby Smart’s staff harmony starts at top with co-defensive coordinators Will Muschamp, Glenn Schumann

Will Muschamp-Scott Cochran-Georgia football
October 12, 2019 Athens - Georgia head coach Kirby Smart and South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp shake hands after South Carolina defeat the Georgia in double overtime during a NCAA college football game at Sanford Stadium in Athens on Saturday, October 12, 2019. South Carolina won 20-17 in double overtimes. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

ATHENS — Kirby Smart always makes it a point to give credit to his Georgia football staff when talking about the unprecedented heights the Bulldogs have reached.

Georgia’s College Football Playoff Championship win last season represents the pinnacle, but there had been a steady build toward it thanks to Smart’s leadership.

UGA co-defensive coordinators Will Muschamp and Glenn Schumann have been two of the coaches closest to Smart as he has evolved to the top of his profession.

WATCH: Kirby, Muschamp share hearty laugh at Nick Saban’s expense

Schumann’s relationship with Smart dates back to Alabama where he started as a student assistant in 2008 while Smart was the Tide’s defensive coordinator.

“I was trying to figure out how many more years it would be --- you know, you have this saying about your wife where you go and say ‘hey, I have had more years in my life than I have had without her,’ " Schumann said.

“I was trying to figure out the other day where I have to get to to get to that point.”

Listening to Schumann talk one can almost hear Smart’s voice in his words — they are that similar.

Muschamp, meanwhile, is Smart’s senior and more of an equal, in terms of his experiences as a coordinator and head coach.

RELATED: Smart and Muschamp share genuine respect

It’s a friendship that Smart spoke fondly of while Muschamp was still the head coach at South Carolina.

Muschamp, who helped Smart get hired at Valdosta State (2000) and LSU (2004) shared on Wednesday that he’s always admired the competitive streak in Smart and the way he has mastered his job.

“He’s a great competitor, extremely bright, he does a great job with the players as far as relating with the players, motivating the players, continuing to challenge himself, challenge our staff and our football team on a daily basis for a very high standard,” Muschamp said.

“He has an element of toughness about himself of knowing what it takes to be successful, in our organization and in the league, he has a great understanding of this league which I think is a big part of being successful.

RELATED: Muschamp and Schumann share details of their partnership

“You adapt to what’s happening in this league – the football stuff is different. I’m talking about recruiting, I’m talking about all the different things that go into being successful in this league. He certainly has done that and has done a phenomenal job here at Georgia.”

Smart said the two grew closer after they played at Georgia together, as there were years between them.

“Where we became closer was the opportunity he gave me to come to Valdosta State, and we worked together there, and then we worked together at LSU,” Smart said. “And those two years we spent in the same staff, we probably bonded more than we did while we were here.”

RELATED: Ray Goff explains how Smart, Muschamp ‘two peas in a pod’

Muschamp -- the last visiting coach to get a win in Sanford Stadium while still South Carolina’s head coach in 2019 (UGA has currently won 12 straight in Athens) -- has been impressed with Smart ever since.

“He’s a guy that, all around, from a staff standpoint, from a roster management standpoint, and the elements of toughness that we do what we need to do to be successful,” Muschamp said.

“I can probably count on one hand the ‘not-so-good’ practices we had last year. Now, that’s a lot credit to our young men on our team because of the leadership and things like that, but that’s also the culture that’s been set of that’s how we’re going to practice at Georgia.”

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