No. 2 Alabama's Smart avoids media, future still unclear

Published Dec. 5, 2015 10:31 p.m. ET

ATLANTA (AP) Kirby Smart sprinted from the field and headed into the locker room after the Southeastern Conference championship game.

He then avoided talking to reporters, apparently slipping out of a side door in the locker room.

Alabama's defensive coordinator obviously didn't want to talk about his future after the second-ranked Crimson Tide's 29-15 win over No. 18 Florida Saturday. It might not have been his final game with Alabama, though players spoke as though it was a matter of when, not if, Smart would be leaving.

There have been several media reports that Smart will be the next head coach at Georgia, his alma mater.

Alabama has not confirmed reports of his departure, but Saturday night several players indicated Smart would coach through the playoffs. There also has been no confirmation of talks with Smart by Georgia officials.

But Alabama players sounded like Smart will be sticking around Tuscaloosa before making his next move, which could be announced early next week.

''That means a lot,'' cornerback Cyrus Jones. ''Him being dedicated to this mission. He just wants to finish it out with us.


''For a guy like me who's spent four years under his coach, that means a lot.''

Smart wasn't talking after the game, ignoring the TV cameras and reporters and apparently sneaking out of the locker room a back way while reporters waited outside.

The 39-year-old Smart has been Nick Saban's defensive coordinator since 2008.

Cornerback Marlon Humphrey said Smart has meant a lot to him, and he gave him a hug in the locker room.

''It'll be weird when we play him, I guess, seeing him on the other side,'' Humphrey said of Smart's seemingly looming departure. ''He's a great coach. He's a great guy. He knows how to recruit and everything. That's things you've got to know how to do as a head coach.''

Asked if Smart was emotional after the game, Humphrey said: ''He might save those tears for the next game and hopefully the one after that.''

Linebacker Ryan Anderson said the team didn't let Smart's job status become a distraction. Like Jones and Humphrey, he doesn't think Smart is done with the Tide, which is chasing its fourth national title under Saban.

''He's still our defensive coordinator,'' Anderson said. ''This is still his team, and we've still got some unfinished business.''