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Smart leaves Georgia for NFL job

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Smart leaves Georgia for NFL job

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) -- Kirby Smart, who was Georgia's running backs coach for only one year, has accepted a job with the Miami Dolphins.

Smart will coach the safeties for Miami coach Nick Saban. Smart was on Saban's Louisiana State staff in 2004.

Georgia coach Mark Richt also is awaiting the outcome of recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach Rodney Garner's interview with the New Orleans Saints.

Smart said Friday the opportunity to move to the NFL "came up very fast and was unexpected."

"However, after weighing all the factors, it's a career move that I feel I need to make," Smart said in a statement released by Georgia.

Smart, 30, played as a defensive back at Georgia from 1995-98 before returning to coach the running backs.

"Kirby did a great job with our backs during the past year," Richt said. "We hate to lose him but at the same time recognize the opportunity he has and wish him nothing but the best."

Before accepting the job with the Dolphins, Smart planned to interview for a job with the New York Jets.

Still, Smart said "I was completely happy with the job I had" at Georgia.

"I feel like I learned more this year than I ever have any year I've been coaching," Smart told the Macon Telegraph.

Smart recently received a raise to $137,500 at Georgia, but he is expected to make more than $200,000 with Miami.

"Money was never an issue," he said.

Richt said he hopes to hire a new running backs coach before spring practice begins on March 4.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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I actually remember Kirby Smart as a safety prospect -- projected him as possible 7th rounder (1999), but he went undrafted and signed with Colts and never made the team.

Anyway, didn't realize this coaching racket was so lucrative. $200K just to coach the safeties?

He was 'Smart" not signing with the AFL, CFL or XFL right of college....At this pace, he looks like a rising coaching star.

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