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Georgia Football

Alabama's Nick Saban on when UGA Football's Kirby Smart Beat him to Oregon's Dan Lanning

October 12, 2023

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ATHENS - Alabama coach Nick Saban was about to hire now Oregon head coach Dan Lanning, but UGA Football’s Kirby Smart beat him to it. 

That’s what Saban said Thursday on ESPN’s The Pat McAfee show. Georgia travels to Vanderbilt this week. Alabama is hosting Arkansas. Lanning and Oregon are getting set for a huge showdown with Washington this Saturday. 


“Dan Lanning was here as a GA. He went to Memphis. I was ready to hire him, and two days before I was going to hire him Kirby hired him,” Saban said laughing. “It kind of messes up your game plan a little bit when you have all these guys out there because the kind of know who who the guys that you’ve had in the organization are that are the good ones. They end up snatching up before you get a chance to.”

Lanning was the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator during the program’s first national title under Kirby in 2021. The former Alabama graduate assistant went on to Arizona State and Memphis before landing as linebackers coach at UGA after Mel Tucker’s departure to take the head coaching job at Michigan State. 

Lanning and Kirby built perhaps the most dominant defense in college football history on the way to winning the national title in 2021. But Saban’s Tide was able to upset the Bulldogs in the 2021 SEC Championship Game - setting up a showdown between the two powers in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game in Indianapolis. Georgia won 33-18.

That game culminated with Kelee Ringo’s memorable pick six of Heisman Trophy winner and Alabama QB Bryce Young as the Dawgs won the program’s first title in over 40 years. 


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