Kirby Smart moving at deliberate pace on staff

Kirby Smart has been given the green light to retain defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt if he wants to.

ATHENS — As important as recruiting is for new Georgia coach Kirby Smart, so is getting a staff in place. The two, after all, go hand-in-hand.

Smart quite publicly took a jet to Lake Stevens, Wash., on Monday to visit with quarterback commitment Jacob Eason. The most important information he could impart to the elite prospect is, “this is who your offensive coordinator is going to be.”

Whether he could actually do that or not on Monday is uncertain. But those in the know say Smart most definitely has a plan, and it is being enacted at a pace he expected.

“We don’t put a timetable when we make those decisions,” Smart said at his introductory news conference on Monday. “It’s a very fluid situation, constantly moving and changing. I won’t put any timetables on anything. Right now we’re worried about getting on the road, getting recruiting, and trying to assemble staff and talking to as many people as we can.”

Smart’s pace is decidedly different than that of his friend and fellow UGA alumnus, Will Muschamp. By the end of the same day he was introduced as South Carolina’s new coach on Sunday, he announced who both of his coordinators are going to be. Muschamp brought Travaris Robinson with him from Auburn to coach the defense. Kurt Roper, who was his offensive coordinator at Florida, is coming back to join him after a year as an offensive assistant with the Cleveland Browns.

Of course, Muschamp had a more time on his hands last week. Smart was preparing Alabama for its SEC championship matchup against Florida. The Crimson Tide won 29-15. Auburn’s season is over and except for a date with Memphis in the Birmingham Bowl.

So far, Smart’s only known hire is Glenn Schumann. Schumann has been a defensive quality-control assistant for the Crimson Tide the last four years and has been Smart’s right-hand man.

What Schumann will do at Georgia is unclear, but he changed his Twitter profile to read “Georgia assistant” on Monday.

“I wouldn’t define the role just yet,” Smart said. “I’d just say he’s going to be part of our staff. He’s done a great job for us at Alabama. He had a critical role there, and he’ll have an advanced role here moving forward.”

Asked why he wanted Schumann at Georgia, Smart said: “He knows our system. He’s been part of the process over there and really knows the process and understands what I want. He’s been my right-hand man for, I guess, four or five years now. He’s had a really big role over there and developed into a really good coach.”

Another coach Smart hopes to bring with him from Tuscaloosa is strength and conditioning director Scott Cochran. The two are very close friends and Cochran is considered one of the best strength coaches in America.

“I don’t know if Scott Cochran is joining my staff or not,” Smart said. “Right now Scott Cochran is working for the University of Alabama and he’s doing the best job he can there. He’s trying to win a national championship. I can’t answer that.”

Smart said he plans to be intimately involved in defensive game-planning and strategies, but couldn’t say who his defensive coordinator might be. There are some head coaches who also call defenses during games, including TCU’s Gary Patterson and BYU’s Bronco Mendenhall, who just went to Virginia. But it is rare.

Smart knows current UGA defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt well as the two worked together at Alabama from 2007-12. But he would not get into specifics about whether Pruitt would be retained.

Smart did say he has the freedom to retain anyone he wants from the current staff at Georgia.

“They’ve been totally supportive of any decision I want to make, and that’s the way it should be,” Smart said. “… I don’t want to (speculate). That’s really unfair to those coaches and their families. There will be consideration there, obviously. But I do think it’s very important that I hire my staff and put my staff in place.”

Smart was also unclear about whether or not he would hire a dedicated special teams coordinator. But he plans to be heavily involved in that as well.

“I’m always going to be very involved,” he said. “I’ll have a special teams coach. I’ll be very involved with every facet of the organization. I don’t know if I’d say (it’ll be a full-time coordinator); I’m leaving that open-ended. It’s fluid. It’s moving. It’s changing by the moment. Go look at my phone.”

 

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