ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 04: Georgia Bulldogs Head Coach Kirby Smart and Alabama Crimson Tide Head Coach Nick Saban before the SEC Championship game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs on December 04, 2021, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga.
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Nick Saban Reveals Kirby Smart Beat Him to Punch on Key Coaching Hire

Coach Saban is rarely seen openly admitting defeat, but he gave former assistant Kirby Smart the "W" on this one.

At times, Alabama head coach Nick Saban has received what's probably been an unfair criticism for seemingly taking a Bill Belichick-like approach when it comes to the media. Because, despite being close friends with the NFL coaching legend, he's almost always willing to offer up some great insight and useful takeaways.

Saban's weekly appearance on ESPN's "Pat McAfee Show" this season has proved as much, and perhaps opened the door further. During Thursday's segment, while discussing the battle in hiring assistant coaches, the seven-time national championship coach candidly admitted defeat to former assistant and current head coach of Georgia, Kirby Smart.

Here's what Saban had to say about the challenges of it, and how Smart beat him at his own game when it came to trying to hire Dan Lanning — the current head coach of No. 8 Oregon — following the 2017 season.

"Now one of the disadvantages of having all these guys going out and getting jobs everywhere is they hire the guys before I get a chance to. Dan Lanning was here as a GA (graduate assistant). He went to Memphis or some place, got a job. I was ready to hire him, and two days before I was going to hire him, Kirby hired him."

Unfortunately, winning does have a price when its comes to the constant carousel of movement with highly touted assistant coaches. But there has to be great satisfaction and a sense of pride for a guy like Saban when it comes to having such an impressive coaching tree. There also has to be some great frustration when the brightest leaves on said coaching tree use your own blueprint against you and snatch up prized assistants before you even get the chance.

More from Saban:

"It kind of messes up your gameplan a little bit when you got all these guys out there, because they kind of know who the guys that you've had in the organization that are the good ones, and they end up snatching them up before you get a chance to."

Again, when you win as much as Saban does, all of the top assistants who move on to head coaching gigs and see success make the battlefield that much fiercer. He's essentially dueling it out with multiple clones of himself who use the very same thought process in making these great hires. And the more you win, the more often a coach like Saban finds himself looking for new blood given the constant coaching turnover.

At the end of the day, it's a great problem to have that every college and NFL coach would love to have and sign up for in a heartbeat.

In addition to Smart, Texas's Steve Sarkisian, Ole Miss's Lane Kiffin and Texas A&M's Jimbo Fisher are among Saban's many notable assistants who have thrived and continue to thrive as head coaches.

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