TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- After yet another offseason in which he was heavily pursued by other college football programs, Kirby Smart agreed to remain at Alabama for at least one more season. A raise to more than $1 million a year guaranteed that the in-demand defensive coordinator would remain wearing crimson.
If Smart keeps the Alabama defense on its record-breaking pace, every penny of his paycheck would be worth it, and the number of teams knocking down his door to make him a head coach would continue to grow. The 37-year-old coach will once again be tasked with rebuilding a defense that loses a large chunk of its starters to the NFL. Robert Lester and Dee Milliner are gone from a secondary that held quarterbacks to the seventh lowest passing efficiency rating in the country. Nico Johnson, Jesse Williams and Damion Square are all departed from a front seven that finished first in rushing defense.
And despite that, expectations are for the unit to not miss a beat.
But Smart is used to the challenge by now. In what's become a yearly rite of passage, the energetic coordinator has already begun tackling the questions that lie ahead.