If there is one person who knows exactly what Lane Kiffin is going through, it’s Georgia head coach Kirby Smart.
On Monday, Kiffin was hired as the head coach at Florida Atlantic. His boss, Nick Saban, announced that the Alabama offensive coordinator would be staying on through the College Football Playoff, much like Smart did a season ago.
Smart explained what his relationship with Kiffin was like, as the two worked together for the two seasons prior to this one. The Georgia head coach even called Kiffin a best friend, speaking in football terms.
“While I was there Lane and I had a good relationship. He sat next to me in vigil. We survived those staff meetings when things were tough,” Smart said at a press conference for the Liberty Bowl. “I got a lot of appreciation for Lane. He did a good job offensively and he scored a lot points which was the defensive coordinator’s best friend.”
Smart was actually hired a week earlier at Georgia, and thus had to go recruit before returning to the Crimson Tide last season.
Kiffin won’t have to worry about recruiting just yet as the dead period ends after the national championship game, and Smart thinks that should make things pretty easy on the Alabama offensive coordinator.
“With the players they got, he’ll have no problem,” Smart said. “He’s got really good players over there, so he’ll be able to handle the double duty. There’s not a lot you’re doing during the dead period recruiting wise.”
Alabama went on to win the national championship last season. The Crimson Tide shut out Michigan State in the first game of the Playoff but did surrender 40 points against Clemson in the championship game.
Bowl practice should help Jacob Eason
Smart didn’t spend much time speaking about his past at Alabama or Kiffin and spoke more about his own team as it prepares to take on TCU in the Liberty Bowl.
Both Smart and TCU head coach Gary Patterson said the extra bowl reps should help their young teams. And perhaps no player can benefit more from the extra reps than Georgia freshman Jacob Eason.
“Tremendously,” Smart said on helpful the extra 15 practices will be. “Every rep he gets, every walkthrough rep, live, 7-on-7, he needs as many of those as he can get.
“I think it’s really important for him and his growth and he gets that,” Smart said. “He spent a lot of time in the film room in the past couple of weeks looking back on the year at the goods thing and bad things he did.”
Eason threw 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions in his freshman season while completing 55 percent of his passes. The Bulldogs went 7-5 this season, with Eason starting all but one game. The 5-star freshman did appear in every game this season and showed flashes, like leading Georgia on a game-winning touchdown drive against Missouri.
But Smart did harp one thing Eason needs to improve on.
“He’s got to do a better job of commanding the huddle for our team and being a leader and I think these practices allow him to do that,” Smart said.
Smart and Patterson didn’t want to keep fans waiting any longer. The two both announced what jerseys the teams will be wearing when they play on Dec. 30 in Memphis.
The Bulldogs will be wearing their home red uniforms, while TCU will be wearing its road white jerseys. Kickoff for the game is set for Noon ET and ESPN will broadcast the game.