Georgia coach Kirby Smart and Alabama coach Nick Saban have a long history together, but now Smart — a former Alabama assistant — is off on his own creating a juggernaut in Athens.

As the Bulldogs gear up for spring practices, Smart spoke with media members on Tuesday and was asked about his relationship with his former boss.

Per a transcript from, Smart said he still has a ton of respect for Saban and considers him a friend:

Q. Kirby, has your on-the-field fights with Alabama and your recruiting fights with Alabama damaged your relationship with Nick?
KIRBY SMART: (Laughs). Absolutely not. I don’t have any issue or any problem with any relationship with Nick. As a matter of fact, I don’t think it’s done anything but grown for more respect since we’ve played them twice. Every time I see Coach Saban, we have a great relationship. We’re not texting and calling each other buddy, buddy, but I’m not doing that with anybody. So that’s not to be of mention. I got a lot of respect for him. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him, and there’s no problem with our relationship.

That stands in contrast to comments from last week by SEC Network host Paul Finebaum, who said there was a rift between the talented coaches.

They could very well meet again in this year’s SEC title game, so we’ll see if the relationship does get strained moving forward.