As Georgia prepares for Saturday's TaxSlayer Bowl, the future head of the program has put back on his Alabama gear to coach the Crimson Tide's defense for Thursday evening's Cotton Bowl semifinal game against Michigan State.
Smart met with reporters in Dallas this week and fielded questions about his soon-to-be job as Georgia's head coach and what he's expecting against the Spartans.
As it pertains to Georgia, here are some of the highlights Smart touched on, taken from the Cotton Bowl's transcript of the news conference:
On being able to coach Alabama's defense still while accepting the Georgia head coaching job: "I would say it's different because of the timing of things. Obviously when people are having job searches and that kind of stuff, the timing falls at different times. There's a big gap from our last game to this game. And a lot goes on in our profession, so you have to be professional about it. You don't have to be enemies with everybody in this profession. And I think that's kind of indicated by how we've been able to handle this and be able to move forward with it.
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"But at the end of the day, guys, it's not about me. It's about this game and it's about these players who have earned the right to be here. I know a lot of the media attention wants to go to that, but that's not what I'm focusing on. I can promise you that. My focus is on getting these guys ready to play and having them ready to play a great game against Michigan State."
On managing his time between Georgia and Alabama: "It's really been a timing issue because, I mean, there's a week where I was on the road recruiting obviously for the University of Georgia. There's a lot of focus there. And then we got to come back to Tuscaloosa and really focus on the Michigan State game during this recruiting dead period. Obviously it's a challenge. It's a time-management challenge. There's only 24 hours in a day. There's only so much you can do each day. And once you accept that and know that you've got to focus on the task at hand -- which the task at hand is to get ready for Michigan State -- that's what we're focused on here."
On if any coaches in particular have given sound advice on managing two jobs at once: "I spoke to several guys, but the guy that probably meant the most to me was even Dan Quinn of the Atlanta Falcons because he dealt with the playoff run there with the Seahawks and going to Atlanta. And he talked about utilizing his time, cutting a couple hours out of sleep, getting up in the morning a couple hours early, working on the future job, and then allowing the same number of hours to go to his current game plan. And tried to model myself after that. And when you have free time, you sacrifice a little bit with your family. It's tough because the free time you have, you've got to dedicate to your new job. And just managing that is the biggest thing and understanding that there's an end to this and that you've got to move forward."
On recruiting for Georgia but coaching Alabama: "When it goes to the recruiting factor, you've got to be in two modes. You've got to be able to transition from here to here. So, obviously, when I'm recruiting for the University of Georgia, it's a one-track mind. I'm recruiting for the University of Georgia. It's the primary and the only goal at that time. And, no, I don't have mixed loyalties when I'm recruiting for the University of Georgia because I'm working towards an end goal of building a successful program.
"But when I'm coaching these guys and I'm in the meeting room with them, I think everyone will tell you I'm 100% there and we're concentrating on trying to get better and beat Michigan State. Separating those two things has not been difficult because you've got to be able to do that in your job. You've got to be able to focus on academics one minute, athletics another minute. And you've got to be able to transition from day to day."