Georgia coach Kirby Smart and South Carolina’s Will Muschamp go back a long way and have had shared a few adventures in the coaching racket. Smart was a redshirt freshman at Georgia during Muschamp’s senior season in 1994. Muschamp later hired Smart at Valdosta State, and they coached together under Nick Saban at LSU.
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The commentary that has emanated this week in anticipation of Saturday’s game in Columbia has been entertaining, although there’s little question that once they’re on opposite sidelines, their friendship takes a back seat.
Kirby Smart was a defensive back at Georgia from 1995–1998.
Photo: UGA Sports
“We weren’t that close to each other when we were here,” Smart said Tuesday. “We knew each other, but I was only here for six months while he was here – summer, fall and then he left. Our relationship started at Valdosta State, really, and at LSU.
Smart recalled the new-player hazing he experienced upon his arrival at Georgia, but said Muschamp had no hand in it.
“I got hazed a little bit, but it wasn’t by Will – it was by some other guys,” Smart quipped. “Will was one of the nice guys.”
Muschamp needled the Georgia program Tuesday for not providing a depth chart for Saturday’s game, surmising that Claude Felton, the Bulldogs’ senior associate athletic director for sports communications, must have dropped the ball.
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Will Muschamp was a safety at Georgia from 1991–94.
Photo: UGA Sports
“Maybe Claude Felton’s slipping, I don’t know,” Muschamp said. “I’m sure it didn’t have anything to do with Kirby.”
“He’s good at jokes,” Smart said.
Smart did say, however, that he wouldn’t let the recruiting wars affect a friendship with a colleague.
“If you’re looking at it from a coaching perspective, you can’t do it that way,” Smart said. “… I think in the coaching profession, most coaches have a respect — or at least I have a respect for most coaches — that I’m not gonna let a recruit come between that coach and me. I know that’s part of the business.
“Whether he gets the kid or we get the kid, I’m still gonna be friends with him. I may work on (a) staff with him. I may need a job and he may hire me. I learned that a long time ago, that recruiting does not come between a relationship or a coach, not somebody that’s a true friend.”