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Why Alabama DC Kirby Smart Is Wise to Wait for the Right Head Coaching Job

It isn't often that an Alabama assistant coach speaks publicly, so when one does, we listen.

Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart made an appearance with "The Front Row" on WCNN 680 The Fan in Atlanta on Monday with "Steak" Shapiro, Sandra Golden and Brian Finneran. In the interview, he discussed a laundry list of topics including potential leaders on his defense, the incoming class of potential stars and some of his fellow coaches that he's had the opportunity to work with in Tuscaloosa.

At the end of the interview, he was asked about the elephant in the room—his next step.

"I could finish my career being a defensive coordinator and say 'hey, he's Mickey Andrews'," Smart said, referring to the former Florida State defensive coordinator who coached from 1984-2009. "I'd be happy knowing that I had the success doing it and I was the best I could be at my job. But if the opportunity knocks, then so be it. There may be a time when I'm 45 or 50 that you get a little more antsy to be a head coach, but at 38, I'm not sitting here saying I got to go today in order to take one just to take it."

He shouldn't.

He made $1.15 million last year according to the USA Today coaching salary database, which made him the second-highest paid assistant in the country behind Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris. It would have put him 69th among head coaches last year had he carried the head coach title.

From a personal standpoint, he has something very rare in coaching circles—stability.

"My family is so happy in Tuscaloosa," Smart told . "My wife loves it. We have six-year-old twins and a two-year-old. We've been very fortunate. I moved seven times the first seven years I coached. The last eight—going on eight, I've been in the same place."

That's incredibly important for any man and any family, regardless of the profession.

Sure, he could have jumped at a head coaching job at a Sun Belt school or perhaps even one in the SEC a few years ago. But if it isn't the perfect gig at the perfect time, why bother?

Plus, he has no pressure.

Head coach Nick Saban is heavily involved with the defense as well. That, coupled with his policy that prevents assistants from talking to the media except during a few select appearances throughout the year, has created a pretty sweet gig for Smart.

Why would he leave?

He has the ability and structure within the framework of the program to focus strictly on X's and O's, without being pulled in a bunch of different directions. He has financial stability and clearly appreciates the opportunity to put down roots in Tuscaloosa, all while building his resume for "the big one."

Essentially, he is in "Will Muschamp mode" when Muschamp was the defensive coordinator and coach-in-waiting at Texas.

Sure, he's had opportunities. According to USA Today, he interviewed with Southern Miss before the Ellis Johnson debacle in 2012, and was connected to Auburn before the Tigers hired Gus Malzahn prior to the 2013 season. 

What's the hurry, though?

He can continue to cash those checks in Tuscaloosa in the same town he's lived in for the better part of the decade while waiting for the next "big one." All the while, he'll coach some of the most talented players around with one of the most distinguished defensive minds in the world in Saban—a man who shoulders some of the defensive load and virtually all of the blame.

Smart would be smart to stick around in Tuscaloosa. He has earned the right and ability to take a job at an elite program that's ready-made for a quick turnaround.

Until that job opens up, why bother?

 

* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer Barrett Sallee. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.com.

 


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Aaron Hernandez Is 'Mr. July' in the 2014 Florida Gators Calendar

Aaron Hernandez put up good numbers in his football career, both at the University of Florida and in New England. However, given his current legal troubles, he may not be the best choice to be featured in a team calendar.

The former Gators tight end was featured as "Mr. July" in a 2014 calendar. (Tim Tebow also was featured.)

It may seem like a poor decision to include Hernandez in the calendar now, but the Gators football Twitter account explained how something like this happened:

Hernandez wasn't arrested until summer of 2013. Maybe it wasn't possible to make a change a few months after approval, but it certainly seems like it would have been worth trying.

It doesn't appear as though this calendar is one that the team put out:

No matter who created the calendar, it's not a good look for anyone right now.

[Twitter, h/t Deadspin]

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What Jameis Winston's Reported Insurance Policy Means for His NFL Plans

Whether Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston declares for the NFL draft in about seven months remains to be seen. But the Heisman Trophy winner has shown he's at least thinking about the future. 

According to Rand Getlin of Yahoo Sports, Winston purchased a "large disability and 'loss of value' policy that provides him with $8 million to $10 million in insurance coverage." The amount of the policy is based on a projection that Winston will be a top-10 draft pick in 2015. 

Getlin goes on to report that Winston's policy provides protection if he falls out of the first round due to injury or illness. Based on history, a policy as large as the one Winston reportedly purchased likely means he's headed to the NFL sooner rather than later: 

Industry experts say underclassmen who purchase insurance policies as large as Winston's almost always enter the NFL draft following the season for which they purchased coverage. That reality is largely due to the hefty premiums players have to pay out of pocket (often with the help of their families) to protect themselves. Policies the size of Winston's can carry a $55,000 to $60,000 premium payment per year, which industry sources say most players have to obtain by financing.

So, if nothing else, history suggests Winston is gone after this season. 

Bud Elliott of TomahawkNation.com, who is as plugged in as anybody when it comes to Florida State, lists several other reasons why Winston is likely to depart for the NFL after the 2014 season. The simplest reason is the money. Elliott calculates that if Winston were to stay one more year in college, he could lose $15 million during his first five years in the league. 

For what it's worth, Winston's father told Jeff Sentell of al.com in June that he wants his son to play two more years of football for the Seminoles. Winston's father certainly wouldn't be the first parent to want his son to get his degree. Winston also wouldn't be the first player to go against those wishes if he decides to declare. 

Winston has been on mock draft radars for a while. Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com and Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated have Winston going No. 7 to Tampa Bay. Of course, it's July and mock drafts at this point are little more than fun conversation starters. Still, it provides an idea of where experts believe Winston grades out. 

Winston's biggest question mark isn't his tangibles or his locker room leadership. It's his off-the-field headlines. From an alleged rape incident in December 2012—it deserves to be noted again that Winston was not charged—to being cited for shoplifting crab legs from a Publix, Winston hasn't been able to keep a low profile. 

As Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman reported in April, multiple NFL scouts have started to drop Winston on their big board: 

This from an NFL scout: "When I heard about this, I was stunned. He was the top overall pick next year. Was. Not anymore. This latest thing shows a continuation of bad judgment. I don't trust him, and I can tell you very few teams in the NFL will trust him."

This from a front-office executive: "He's on his way to falling out of the first round."

If Winston were to hypothetically fall out of the first round because off-the-field issues, his insurance policy wouldn't cover the financial hit he'd take. 

But if Winston can improve on what was a stellar redshirt freshman year (4,057 passing yards, 40 touchdowns and 10 interceptions) while keeping his nose clean, character concerns could diminish rather quickly. Winston would almost certainly be a first-round selection, if not a top-10 or top overall selection, and the insurance policy wouldn't be needed. 

Purchasing the policy, though, shows that Winston is protecting the one thing he can't entirely control: his health. And when players aren't getting paid to play football, protection from every possible roadblock is necessary. 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All stats courtesy of ESPN.com

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