4 College Defensive Coordinators The Redskins Should Consider
Earlier I previewed Todd Grantham as a possible replacement for defensive coordinator, next on the list is another SEC defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.
Why Kirby Smart could consider it:
-Similar to Todd Grantham I automatically dismissed Kirby Smart as an option given that he was too high profile. The more I thought about it though the more I could see the possibility. Smart is almost too good of a defensive coordinator, which sounds crazy but is kinda true. Of all the FBS coaching jobs that come up in a given year, Smart’s name would be among the top three on the wish list for just about all of them. The problem is there is maybe one or two openings a year at most that should even interest Kirby Smart. Smart is not going to go take the UCONN job or if the Kansas job if it comes open. And he probably wouldn’t even consider schools with proud traditions like Iowa, Georgia Tech, UVA, WVU or even Nebraska if those jobs opened up. While he could get a pay raise (though probably not a big one at most of those schools) there would be little else to entice him. Outside of one or two of those schools, he’d have little chance of ever really competing for a National Title, and would have a more limited recruiting field. There are maybe 20-25 schools in the country that would even interest a guy like Smart and those jobs rarely come open. Even this year with likely two of them open at USC and Texas, Smart could come up just short.
One thing that Smart could do to help his chances of landing one of those jobs is to expand his resume by jumping to the NFL. Smart has nothing left to prove at Alabama, and could look to get outside of Nick Saban’s shadow. While Saban is a tremendous mentor and definitely a guy you want in your corner, that is basically the only network Kirby Smart has been under (brief stops at Georgia and Florida State as well). If Smart can make some additional connections it could help expand his chances the next time a big job becomes available. Also, if Smart can have success away from Alabama it will bolster his stock that much more.
In addition to helping Smart eventually get a shot at a top college head coaching job, if he has success at the NFL level, Smart will quickly get on the short list for NFL head coaching gigs if he wants them. Now the Redskins might not be Smart’s first choice at jumping to the NFL level, especially if there is uncertainty with Mike Shanahan’s future, but he could consider it.
Why the Redskins would want him:
Kirby Smart is probably the best defensive coordinator in college football and has had that title since he took over as the defensive coordinator at Alabama in 2008. Every year the Crimson Tide are among the elites (if not number 1) in just about every major defensive category. And in that time Alabama has won three National Championships due in large part to their elite defense.
Smart was a former All-SEC defensive back at Georgia, and has since coached at Georgia (twice), Valdosta State, Florida State, LSU, and Alabama at the college level Smart has just one year of NFL coaching experience with Nick Saban as the Miami Dolphins defensive backs coach in 2006. Most of his career he’s been under Saban, which is about as good of a steward you could ask for on the defensive side of the ball.
Despite Smart’s limited NFL experience, his SEC coaching experience is invaluable. He’s coaching the best defense in the country, year in year out despite numerous defections to the NFL. To deal with the kind of turnover he has at a regular basis is invaluable. Also, he’s got plenty of first hand experience recruiting and coaching many of the top young defensive players in the NFL today, as well as a number of guys who will be coming into the league in the next 4 years. That is the type of insight that could prove very helpful in rebuilding this defense for the Redskins.
Likelihood of it Happening:
While there is a chance of it happening I wouldn’t say the odds are particularly great. First, if that Texas job were to become open there is a good chance that Smart is on that short list and could get the job. Also, due to other dominoes falling one or two other top coaching jobs could come open that would target Smart. Even if Smart doesn’t get tabbed as a college head coach, the Redskins job might not be appealing for two primary reasons:
First the question surrounding Mike Shanahan’s future is going to make it tough for just about any quality defensive coordinator to want to come to DC. While Shanahan could definitely get fired even after he signed an extension, the chance would be smaller. It’s doubtful that a guy like Kirby Smart who can write his own ticket most places would leave $1.3 million at Alabama, without some serious job security. Maybe the Redskins could guarantee him that any new coach would keep him for at least a year, but that would open up it’s own issues for the Redskins.
Even if Smart would feel comfortable enough to come here, Mike Shanahan may not go that way. Shanahan has typically sought coaches from his network (which has it’s own problems) or are associated with people he’s familiar with. Mike Shanahan and Nick Saban have never overlapped with any organization (and in fact have never both coached at the same organization) so there wouldn’t be that familiarity. Also, Mike Shanahan knowing that his job is more on the hot seat, may be less inclined to give a job to a relatively green coach like Smart, especially considering his little NFL experience.
What do you think: Would Kirby Smart be a good defensive coordinator for Washington? and what are the chances he’d come here?