And so they meet again.
Kirby Smart and Nick Saban. Georgia and Alabama.
The protégé against the mentor.
Their teams go head to head for the first time next Monday in the national championship game.
No. 3 Georgia’s 54-48 double overtime win over No. 3 Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl, coupled with No. 4 Alabama’s 24-6 victory against No. 1 Clemson in the Sugar Bowl, sets up a national title game showdown at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Smart was defensive coordinator for Saban at Alabama, where he was on staff for nine seasons and coached with him with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins and at LSU.
This will be just the fourth meeting between the teams since 2008. Alabama has won three in a row, including a 38-10 win in Athens in 2015.
The teams could have met in the SEC championship game before Auburn knocked off Alabama.
Smart was asked the day before the SEC title game if he thought to himself that he would avoid 60,000 questions about Saban.
“Now that you say that, I can only imagine sitting here today, if we were playing them, what the questions would be like,” Smart said then.
They are coming this week.