Alabama coach Nick Saban showed a great deal of gratitude towards one of the key cogs in his Alabama dynasty who won’t be a part of it anymore.

Saban released a statement on Sunday thanking Smart for his contributions with the Crimson Tide after coaching under Saban during his entire tenure in Tuscaloosa since 2007.

“We are really excited for Kirby and his family. He’s worked really hard and has done a great job for the University of Alabama, and he’s done a great job working for us for a really long time. He’s really, really appreciated for his hard work and the contribution he’s made to all of the success that we’ve had here. Not only in the good coaching and development of players, but the kind of person he is, the kind of recruiter he is and the kind of team player he is. I couldn’t be happier for someone who is very deserving of an opportunity like this one.”

Smart was officially announced as Georgia’s next coach on Sunday, a day after Alabama’s 29-15 win over Florida in the SEC Championship Game. Smart is expected to remain with the Tide through the season.

Smart became the school’s defensive coordinator in 2009, and Alabama won three national championships with Smart in that position.