The biggest budding rivalry in the Southeastern Conference has been on display in back-to-back seasons and on two of the grandest stages college football has to offer. Those matchups, of course, being Alabama and Georgia facing off in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game and the SEC Championship Game.
While Alabama has won both matchups, Georgia came within moments of winning each contest between the two heavyweights. With Kirby Smart building his Bulldog program in the image of Nick Saban’s Alabama program, there was obviously going to be some friction caused between the two programs but the way SEC Network host Paul Finebaum tells it, the relationship between the two coaches is frosty to this day.
Finebaum was a recent guest on the Cellini & Dimino show on 680 The Fan and explained why the two SEC coaches won’t likely be exchanging Christmas cards anytime soon.
“Remember, Kirby Smart spent all those years under Nick Saban. He knows what it is like to be an assistant. Even though he was his top assistant, Saban does not treat his assistants well, in fact, he treats them shabbily,” Finebaum said on the show. “And I think Kirby left there and there was a lot of fingerpointing toward Kirby, as you guys have heard.
“Even though they won the championship (in 2016), Alabama gave up nearly 40 points to Clemson. They pointed towards Kirby and what really created the friction that exists to this day is that Alabama officials and coaches blame Kirby Smart for ripping off the inner sanctum recruiting room — which is in Saban’s office. If you go to the secondary office where they keep all the prospects, what I mean by that, Kirby went to recruits and said, ‘Hey listen. We want you, you are No. 1 on our list but I know for a fact Alabama has you third or fourth or fifth.’ And that cost Alabama some key recruits and they have not forgiven Kirby Smart yet in Tuscaloosa.”
While the saying goes that all is fair in recruiting in the SEC, Saban and Alabama apparently draw the line at what Smart is accused of doing after leaving Tuscaloosa. After exchanging back-to-back No. 1 recruiting classes in the nation, the recruiting wars between the two programs may only be just beginning — as are the matchups in Atlanta for the league championship.