ATHENS — Kirby Smart is about as serious minded and intense of a collegiate coach as you’ll find, but his old friend Will Muschamp triggered the lighter side of the Georgia football coach to come out.
A CBS Sports interview started with Smart addressing having Muschamp’s son, walk-on quarterback Jackson Muschamp, on the Bulldogs’ roster.
Was Smart worried about the Georgia playbook finding its way into the hands of the South Carolina head coach?
“There’s a lot of paranoia in coaching, and what I’ve realized is a lot of that stuff is overrated,” said Smart, who nonetheless has one of the most restrictive practice polices in the nation.
“I had the conversation with Jackson, and he said, ‘Coach, there’s nobody I’d rather beat in my whole life than my dad; we play pickup basketball, we play everything, we compete against each other,’ ” Smart said. “He said the last thing I’m worried about is trying to help him beat us. We’ll do everything we can to beat him.”
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When it was Muschamp’s turn to talk, things got interesting, as the Gamecocks’ head coach didn’t immediately turn off the mute function on his computer and couldn’t be heard.
Smart found that hilarious, throwing his head back and laughing at what he explained was the irony of Muschamp having any sort of technological complication.
“(Muschamp) can’t talk, he’s trying to call his video guy, I hope y’all air it like this,” Smart said. “He makes fun of everybody else for not being able to get anything else done. All this time we’ve been hearing these stories about Coach (Nick) Saban and his technical ability to get on Internet and do Email, and we crack jokes about Zoom.”
Saban said in an ESPN interview about the coronavirus-triggered shutdown last month that “the one positive of this for me is, I even have an email now, so I’ve come a long way. It was hard to communicate when you have to be by yourself and you’ve always got to depend on someone else to get your emails and messages and all that, and it just didn’t work.”
And here was Muschamp having trouble on a video conferencing call.
But the talk quickly pivoted to Saban, and the time Smart and Muschamp shared on the LSU staff with their mentor.
“His poor video guy, man,” Smart said, “Nick’s video guy has got to do everything to get it set up for him. And Will needed his video guy this morning, so he’s showing his age.”
Muschamp, without missing a beat, launched into a story about how technologically challenged a 49-year-old Saban (now 68) was when he arrived at LSU.
“When we were at LSU, we went to EXOS which is all computer,” said Muschamp, who joined Saban’s staff in 2001. “When we first got there, Nick would only work with Beta tape, so you had to insert it in and out. I was always by the computer, and I would always just click to go to the next play or the next segment that we wanted to watch.
“And for four years Nick would ask me, ‘is it rewound yet?’ And I had to explain to him it doesn’t rewind any more.”
It was a memory that led to more laughter from Smart, who was clearly enjoying the story.
“That was my rookie year coaching (2004), and I had to carry like Beta tapes, almost like VCR tapes, I had to carry 30 tapes over to the meeting room from my office,” Smart recalled. “And I’m like, why are we taking these tapes? Because they’re all on the computer, and you can just click on them on the computer
“And (Saban) wanted the tapes there, he didn’t trust the computer would work, he was like, ‘That computer breaks down, you better have those tapes,’,and I was like OK, so I carried those tapes every day to the meeting.”
Smart, who is 24 years younger than the Alabama head coach, later served eight years as Saban’s defensive coordinator in Tuscaloosa, winning four national championships with the Crimson Tide.