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Reports: Kirby Smart 'Expected' to Become Next Head Coach at Georgia

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The Bulldogs got their man, as expected. But that could complicate other head coaching searches around the conference, and make Nick Saban's life a little more difficult

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Multiple reports this evening are saying that Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart is expected to become the next head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs. Expected is often a code word for a deal being pretty much done but not signed, and not to be announced until after the coach's next game.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution had the first mainstream report about the deal. They were followed by Bruce Feldman at Fox Sports. The Rivals site covering Georgia says they had the story first, for whatever that's worth to you.

Choosing Smart is not really a surprise for Georgia; in fact, he was assumed to be a front-runner for job even before it was clear that Mark Richt would be "mutually parted" from Georgia. Smart is an alumnus and the coordinator for one of the best defensive teams in the land. He's also learned from Nick Saban. That's not a guarantee of success, as we've seen from other Saban assistants, but there are worse places to learn how to coach football.

The most immediate fallout is that Nick Saban will now have to find a new defensive coordinator. Jeremy Pruitt, the current defensive coordinator for Georgia, could be a strong candidate for that position. But Pruitt could also be a target for some head-coaching positions; he's been mentioned as a potential candidate for South Carolina's opening, and makes sense given Ray Tanner has been targeting younger coaches with recruiting chops.

Of course, South Carolina also loses a name off of its short list with Smart moving on. At one point, the Alabama defensive coordinator was the betting favorite for the Gamecocks position, and likely would have been the front-runner if Tom Herman at Houston sticks to his promise to stay with the Cougars. (Reports of a done deal might have been slightly exaggerated, but the UH folks don't sound too nervous.)

In any case, Georgia becomes the first SEC school to identify its next head coach. In addition to the Gamecocks, Missouri is on the market, and other jobs could open up if a current coach moves on.