TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – When it comes to Kirby Smart managing his time and the challenges of essentially serving two masters over the last month, his father really doesn’t have much concern about the logistics or about Smart’s general health in that regard.
What concerns Sonny Smart and his wife Sharon more are the things that are out of Smart’s control.
“Not too long ago, when we were having all that bad weather, he was on a plane and flying to three or four different stops,” said Sonny Smart, who was also Kirby’s coach in high school. “Things like that, we’re always concerned about. When he’s traveling and making all those stops. And when we know he’s tired and it’s late at night. There’ve been times he might be in Jacksonville recruiting and he’s got to drive to Atlanta and be somewhere to see somebody at 7:30 the next morning. That concerns us. We worry about that.
“But as far as the workload, nah. I mean, he’s always worked like that. He’s actually pretty comfortable with that.”
So is everybody else, apparently. Since Dec. 6, when Smart was officially named Georgia’s head coach, he has worked two jobs. He decided to remain with Alabama as the Crimson Tide’s defensive coordinator and vowed to remain with them until the season ended.
And, as everyone knows, it still hasn’t.
After defeating Michigan State 38-0 in the national semifinals on Dec. 31, No. 2 Alabama (13-1) will now face No. 1 Clemson (14-0) on Monday night in the College Football Playoff championship game. So not only is Smart still working, he’s preparing the Crimson Tide for their latest “biggest game yet.”
For the most part, Smart said the two jobs haven’t overlapped too badly. After he was announced as Georgia’s coach, it was an open recruiting period, Alabama had just wrapped up its SEC championship game win over Florida and the Crimson Tide, like everybody else was off for final exams before the holiday break.
It has gotten a little more complicated since Alabama resumed its game preparations on Dec. 16. The good news is the recruiting calendar moved into a dead period before that. The bad news, Smart still has had calls to make to recruits and a coaching staff to hire and countless other bits of business to handle for Georgia.
Smart has managed it the only way he knows how, by trying to complete his Alabama day-to-day coaching work first, doing his Georgia work after that and sleeping, well, whenever he can get to that after national signing day.
Said Dad, who not coincidentally was baby-sitting Kirby’s youngest son, 3-year-old Andrew, as he spoke: “I’ve only talked to him a couple of times and that’s usually close to midnight when he’s coming home. … I did for just a few minutes last night around 11:30 or so and, like always, he said he was calling recruits. He usually talks just for a second about something, maybe something about the kids, then he usually says he’s gotta go, got to call recruits. They all want to hear from him, so he’s trying to spend every minute he can touching base with them and talking to them.”
Everybody wants to hear from Kirby now the calendar has rolled over to 2016. The open period for in-person recruiting resumes next week, so having a full staff in place has become a major priority, and Smart is close on that. There are operational issues and visits to plan and homes to buy and offices to establish.
And, oh, yeah, there’s a game to be played Monday night in Arizona, which apparently means a lot to a lot of people.
“It’s tough to manage both, but I take pride in giving the same amount of time I’ve always given to the Alabama players of game-planning, adjusting,” Smart, sounding hoarse, said Wednesday in Tuscaloosa. “Certainly when I would have been recruiting for Alabama or on the phone or Internet or Twitter, I spend all that time on Georgia with the recruiting. At the end of the day, the coaches here are still recruiting for Alabama just like I’m recruiting for Georgia, so that time gets offset.
“But as far as my commitment to the players, it hasn’t dropped any. If anything I’m trying to make sure they know I’m giving them everything I’ve got every day and bring a lot of energy out there.”
Smart does jog “occasionally” and he tries to eat well. But his primary trick is a fierce dedication to time management. Smarts sets aside blocks of time to do the bulk of his work for the respective parties and handles only the most major of crises or developments that might intercede.
“At least going back to high school, he always did really well with time management,” Sonny Smart said. “He played every sport and just was always busy. I can recall him being a junior and senior in high, at lunch break and sometimes in other breaks during the day, he’d come in my office and work on homework or something he needed to get done. He was just always good at that. I think that’s one thing that’s helped him now. He manages his time well. He knows what time he has to do each thing and he does it.”
Following is a snapshot of what Smart’s life has looked like in the month since interviewing with Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity the night after the SEC Championship game in Atlanta. The timeline was created with assistance from both UGA and Alabama and the Smart family:
KIRBY SMART TIMELINE
- Dec. 5 — Meets with Greg McGarity at Atlanta hotel following SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.
- Dec. 6 — Meets with UGA President Jere Morehead in Atlanta Sunday morning.
- Dec. 6 — Kirby Smart announced as Georgia Bulldogs’ new head football coach
- Dec. 7 — Smart press conference at Georgia Continuing Education Hotel and Conference Center in Athens
- Dec. 7 — Leaves Athens immediately after news conference to meet with quarterback commitment Jacob Eason in Washington.
- Dec. 8-11 — On the road recruiting for Georgia. Moves into hotel in Athens.
- Dec. 12-13 — Hosts some of Bulldogs’ top recruits in Athens
- Dec. 14 — Media teleconference from Athens with Georgia beat writers and conducts UGA business.
- Dec. 15 — Returns home to Tuscaloosa
- Dec. 16-22 — Practice and game prep with Alabama.
- Dec. 22 — After practice and Alabama Christmas luncheon, departs Tuscaloosa for Athens.
- Dec. 23 — Conducts UGA business in Athens before returning to Tuscaloosa that night.
- Dec. 24-25 — Home in Tuscaloosa with family for Christmas
- Dec. 26 — Departs with Alabama to Dallas for national semifinal
- Dec. 26-30 — Alabama practice game prep resumes in Dallas
- Dec. 31 — Smart’s defense pitches shutout in Bama’s 38-0 win over Michigan State in national semifinals
- Jan. 1 – Returns to Tuscaloosa early in morning with Alabama
- Jan. 1 – Immediate departs Tuscaloosa by plane for Jacksonville.
- Jan. 1-2 — Interviews job candidates at Sawgrass Marriott Resort & Spa in Ponte Vedra
- Jan. 2 — Arrives at Everbank Field in Jacksonville late in first half of Georgia’s game vs. Penn State in TaxSlayer Bowl. After brief visit with President Morehead in his box, and another with AD McGarity in his box, does quick interview in ESPN TV broadcast booth during halftime. Immediately departs stadium for Tuscaloosa.
- Jan. 3 – Joins Alabama coaches to begin preparations for Clemson and CFB championship game.
- Jan. 3-4 – Alabama practices and game prep.
- Jan. 5 – No practice but coaches meetings and game prep.
- Jan. 6 – Alabama practice and Media Day news conference.