Georgia’s Kirby Smart peppered with Alabama and Nick Saban questions. Here’s what he said.

During his time at the podium inside the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Alabama, for Tuesday’s portion of SEC Media Days, Georgia football coach Kirby Smart was peppered with questions related to Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide.

He brushed aside one question regarding the stat the former Saban assistants are 0 for a lot when facing him.

“I’m well aware,” Smart said.

Smart also sidestepped a question about taking the next step to get past Alabama.

“Well, the next step for us, and I don’t mean this to be trite, but it’s Vanderbilt,” Smart said. “You have to get to that point because we don’t have Alabama on our schedule. We know Alabama has been very powerful in this conference for a long time. We respect the job they do. I got a lot of respect for Coach Saban and his program. I probably wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for him. I also understand we have a really good program too.”

“We have been able to recruit at a high level. I’m excited about this team coming back. The biggest thing is concerning ourselves with us and not concerning ourselves with somebody else.”

Smart was an assistant under Saban at Alabama before becoming Georgia’s head coach in December 2015.

In two matchups against his former boss, Smart’s Bulldogs have been on the short end of knocking off the Tide.

Alabama defeated Georgia, 26-23 in overtime, to win the national title two years ago, and beat the Dawgs 35-28 in last year’s SEC Championship Game.

“Am I confident somebody’s going to beat him? It depends how long he coaches,” Smart said. “It depends on how many opportunities they get. Inevitably, with enough opportunities, anything can happen.

“I got a lot of respect for the job he does. I got a lot of respect for the program. The success he’s gotten has been earned. Make no mistake about that. He’s earned it. There’s not one thing he asked assistant coaches to do that he doesn’t do himself.”

“As far as on the recruiting trail, he’s like he is on the field. He’s very relentless. He’s active as a recruiter. When you talk to a kid, a lot of times you find out he’s talked to Coach Saban as well. That’s part of it. It’s communications skills that help you recruit, and he doesn’t leave any stone unturned, and I got a lot of respect for the job he does.”

Sports reporter Jason has covered high school, college and pro sports since joining the Bradenton Herald in 2010. He’s won Florida Press Club awards for sports feature and column writing. He currently writes college and pro sports stories for the McClatchy East Region real-time team.