They have much in common as mentor and protege who command the two college football programs the others all want to be or beat, but Kirby Smart is not Nick Saban's clone or his Mini-Me. The latest example that Smart is his own man in full is what they did on their summer vacations.
The Alabama coach went to Italy. The Georgia coach went to Southaven, Miss. Every baseball dad in the SEC footprint knows what that means. Smart's 11-year-son, Andrew, played in a tournament at Snowden Grove Park in Southaven, the unofficial travel baseball capital of the South.
"I got to spend five days in the SEC footprint in Mississippi," Smart said. "Travel baseball dad, which is fun and exhilarating, and my wife wants to go to Italy and the Amalfi Coast, and instead we spent it in Mississippi for five days in Southaven. I enjoyed every minute of that, and getting to be a travel baseball dad is something I enjoy."
Wait a minute. Did Smart know that Saban and his wife, Terry, had enjoyed a belated 50th anniversary trip to Italy this summer? Was Smart's comment about his family trip a subtle reminder that he's young enough to be a travel baseball dad - and thus young enough to coach the next collection of five-stars throughout their college careers?
Or was it simply a fun family memory that resonated with a lot of us travel baseball dads, past and present?
It's tempting to view almost everything Smart says and does through the prism of his relationship with Saban. After all, the GOAT helped raise the baby GOAT, who grew up to join him atop the summit of college football. Saban has left few new worlds for other coaches to conquer, but Smart has Georgia in prime position to complete the first three-peat of the AP poll era, which began in 1936. ...
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