ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart laughed when asked if he and Alabama coach Nick Saban had a strained relationship.

“Absolutely not,” Smart said at the Bulldogs’ opening spring football press conference on Tuesday. “I don’t have any issue or any problem with any relationship with Nick.

“As a matter of fact, I don’t think it’s done anything but grown with more respect since we played them twice.”

Alabama beat Georgia in the College Football Playoff Championship Game two years ago, and again in the SEC Championship Game last December.

SEC Network host Paul Finebaum had indicated there were issues between Saban and Smart this offseason.

“We have a great relationship,” Smart said of his friendship with Saban. “We’re not texting and calling buddy buddy, but I don’t do that with anybody.

“I have a lot of respect for him, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without him, and there’s no problem with our relationship.”

More Georgia football spring 2019

Way-too-early UGA spring football position group rankings 

Georgia linebackers: most improved unit?

UGA running backs 4 spring football questions

5 questions for UGA spring football, it’s Jake Fromm’s team

Does Georgia have championship level Defensive line? Questions

4 questions for Georgia football O-Line

3 pre-spring football questions on Georgia QB situation

Kirby Smart provides preview on young receivers 

Georgia secondary still best in the SEC?