ATHENS — Kirby Smart didn’t have to wait until September to get his first big win over new Alabama coach Kalen DeBoer.

Smart’s Georgia program won a pivotal hiring battle for the services of elite defensive coach Travaris Robinson.

Robinson turned down an offer to become DoBoer’s defensive coordinator at Alabama to stick with co-defensive coordinator position he accepted with the Bulldogs on Sunday.

It’s a decision that says everything about the state of the programs, with Robinson having knowledge of what the Tide is bringing back next season.

Fans might not grasp just how big of a win it is for Georgia to beat Alabama for “T-Rob,” as it will surely carry over into when the teams’ meet on Sept. 28 in Tuscaloosa.

Consider, the 42-year-old Robinson was a first-team All-SEC safety at Auburn who went on to play in the NFL, which demands great respect from players.

Robinson has also proven himself as a recruiter and position coach, as both of the Alabama cornerbacks he developed the past two seasons are projected first-round picks in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Recruits know ‘T-Rob’

Fact is, elite defensive back recruits and current Tide players know more about Robinson than DeBoer.

The new Alabama head coach has had a successful but somewhat obscure career, not gaining national traction until finding success with Michael Penix Jr. leading his Washington team the past two seasons.

Tide fans were hoping that the presence of legendary coach Nick Saban, who retired last Wednesday, might somehow hold value for coaches and players abandoning the program.

But Alabama go-to receiver Isaiah Bond has already transferred to Texas, and now the Tide has lost the best recruiter and most promising assistant in Robinson to Georgia.

More Alabama players are expected to leave, as the NCAA will allow players a window to transfer (Feb. 9) on account of Saban leaving the program.

Many are watching closely to see Tide Freshman All-American safety Caleb Downs does with his future, with Georgia and Ohio State possible destinations.

Muschamp protege

Smart has had interest in hiring Robinson before.

Wins and losses speak loudly to coaching staffs and fans, tooand Robinson was the opposing defensive coordinator the last time UGA lost a home game in 2019.

It was Robinson’s defense intercepting Jake Fromm three times in that 20-17 South Carolina OT win in 2019.

Former Georgia co-defensive coordinator Will Muschamp will slide into an analyst role with Robinson, a rising star and protege, assuming his former role working alongside Glenn Schumann.

Muschamp saw Robinson develop from the time he hired him to coach the secondary at Florida from 2011-14.

Muschamp’s final Gators’ team held Mike Bobo’s single-season record scoring offense at Georgia to just 20 points in a 38-20 win in 2014.

But enough of the history lesson.

Georgia reload

The Bulldogs’ future is back into focus with this pivotal staff hire, incoming No. 1 recruiting class and odds as the preseason No. 1 team for 2024.

Georgia has some reloading in the secondary Robinson will help oversee.

The Bulldogs are losing three 2023 starters to the NFL: Kamari Lassiter (projected second-round pick), Javon Bullard (third-round pick) and Tykee Smith (third-day pick).

Robinson had to evaluate both programs’ futures in his decision, as he has the look of a future head coach. Which current staff is more likely to produce future head coaches?

Both programs pushed hard to hire Robinson, but there could only be one winner.

Georgia came out on top of the “new” Alabama in this head-to-head matchup.