Source: Kirby Smart to Become UGA's Next Head Coach

A FOX 5 Sports source indicates that Kirby Smart is poised to replace Mark Richt as head football coach at the University of Georgia. Smart is a former UGA player and now Defensive Coordinator at Alabama.

Another report from Rusty Mansell of suggests that the search will be over by next Tuesday, December 8, at the latest. Mansell told FOX 5 Sports “everything is trending” that Smart is the clear target to replace Mark Richt. 

Smart, 39, is a native of Bainbridge, Georgia where he played high school football for Bainbridge High School. He was a four-year letterman at defensive back for Georgia and a first time All-SEC selection as a senior. Smart also served as Georgia’s running backs coach in 2005.

Tuesday night, FOX 5's Ken Rodriguez reported that Smart's hiring is nearly a done deal, with only some formalities to be completed. According to the FOX 5 source, an announcement will likely come this weekend during or after Saturday's SEC Championship game between Florida and Alabama at the Georgia Dome. 

Since 2007, Smart has been a member of Nick Saban’s staff at the University of Alabama. Since 2008, he has served as the Tide’s Defensive Coordinator. He was awarded the Broyles Award in 2009 as the nation’s best assistant coach, and recognized as the 2012 AFCA FBS Assistant Coach of the Year.

Mansell said the timing of the hiring could be critical for recruiting, as Georgia will host its annual Senior Football Awards Gala on Saturday, December 12th. Mansell said Georgia will want to have a new coach in place for the Gala weekend as it will host a number of highly ranked football recruits. Mansell believes if Smart is not the choice, fans should be on the lookout for two other names to replace Richt, who resigned Sunday after 15 seasons as Georgia’s Head Coach.

One of them is Mississippi State Coach Dan Mullen, who worked with Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity when both were at the University of Florida.

Another potential candidate who Mansell believes could pick up some steam if Smart isn’t the new coach is current Colorado State Coach and former Georgia QB and Offensive Coordinator Mike Bobo. In his first season at Colorado State, Bobo’s team finished strong, winning 5 of its last 6 games for an overall record of 7-5. Bobo became the first coach at Colorado State to win 7 games in his first season.

Among the recruits scheduled to attend is QB Jacob Eason, considered by many analysts to be the top prospect in the country. Eason committed to play at Georgia in June 2014, before his junior season at Lake Stevens High School in Lake Stevens, Washington. On Tuesday, Dawgs247 reported Eason would fly to Gainesville, Florida Tuesday night to visit one of Georgia’s biggest arch-rivals, Florida. Mansell calls the signing of Eason, who will be an early enrollee and begin his college classes in January, “extremely important” for Georgia for several reasons.

Mansell said, “Georgia needs a dynamic playmaker at quarterback who can give them a puncher’s chance in any game.” While UGA fans should understand that Eason will go through growing pains as a freshman quarterback, Mansell said Eason will only get better if he wins the starting job.

Mansell also sees Eason as a key to bringing in other outstanding players in the 2016 as well as the 2017 and 2018 recruiting classes. Dawgs247 reports Eason was visited in his home Tuesday night by Washington State head coach Mike Leach, long considered a college football offensive guru.

Mansell predicts while Richt will talk to several schools and actually be offered a couple of coaching jobs, he will be surprised if he takes one this year.

Multiple reports indicated Tuesday that Richt,who will coach the Bulldogs in their bowl game, is a candidate for openings at Maryland, Missouri and his alma mater Miami. Mansell believes Richt will sit out this season to determine whether he really wants to jump back into the grind of coaching.