Athlon Sports’ yearly “Coaches Talk Anonymously About Conference Foes” is a fan favorite. In the day and age of talking up all your opponents, whether they’re Creampuff State or the defending champs, it’s fun to see SEC coaches offer candid assessments (albeit under the protection of anonymity) of other conference teams. When talking about Georgia, one SEC coach thinks Kirby Smart has built UGA up faster than Nick Saban built his team up at Alabama.

“I think it’s fair to say Kirby got Georgia to that Alabama level faster than Nick Saban got Alabama there. They’re ready to roll,” the anonymous coach told Athlon.

Georgia and Alabama’s recent clashes in Atlanta have shown that Smart does have his UGA squad on “that Alabama level.” No one’s going to argue that point or the Dawgs being “ready to roll” this fall, but Alabama fans may take issue with the coaching saying Smart got there “faster.”

Smart won an SEC Championship at Georgia (Year 2, 2017) before Saban won a conference title at Alabama (Year 3, 2009). Both teams turned it around in Year 2 after forgettable first seasons. Saban’s squad entered the 2008 SEC Championship Game undefeated and led eventual national champion Florida in the fourth quarter. We all remember Smart’s Dawgs coming even closer than that to a national championship in his second season.

Last year was Smart’s Year 3. Georgia was undoubtedly one of the best teams in the country (arguably one of the best four) and looked better than its 11-3 final record. Saban, though, managed to guide Alabama to a 14-0 campaign in Year 3, knocking off the Tim Tebow-led Gators for the SEC crown and an undefeated Texas squad to win the BCS championship.

Without taking anything away from Smart’s success or getting into who had more work to do with the roster they inherited, it would probably be fairer to say they built up their programs at a similar pace.