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Kirby Smart and Will Muschamp are 'two peas in a pod'
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart during Georgia’s 2021 NFL Pro Day inside the William Porter Payne and Porter Otis Payne Indoor Athletic Facility in Athens, Ga., on Wednesday, March 17, 2021. (Photo by Tony Walsh)
Over the past 25-plus years, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart and senior analyst Will Muschamp have been teammates, colleagues and rivals.
Now, entering the 2021 college football season, the pair are working together on the same staff for one common goal, which is to bring their alma mater a national championship.
On Dec. 7, 2015, Muschamp was named the coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks. His tenure in Columbia lasted up until mid-November 2020, which is when USC let him go. Now, back in Athens, Muschamp is serving as an assistant on Smart’s staff helping with the defensive side of the ball.
Georgia senior inside linebacker Channing Tindall said the two coaches are really similar.
"They have the same tendencies and whatnot,” he said last week. “I know if you've ever seen coach Smart with the visor, coach Muschamp does the same thing with the visor. It's brotherly. You can definitely tell they were best friends, they are best friends when they're on the field. Even the advice they give is kind of similar, just the way they say it. Kind of everything about them. They're like two peas in a pod. As soon as I see coach Smart, I'll see coach Muschamp. It's like two peas in a pod."
Tindall is from Columbia and was heavily recruited out of high school by Muschamp. Two years ago, South Carolina upset Georgia 20-17 at home during Tindall’s sophomore season. Looking back, that loss ultimately knocked Georgia out of the College Football Playoff picture, which wouldn’t have mattered anyway since no team was able to stop LSU. Nevertheless, Tindall still remembers that game and how it impacted the season.
He admitted that it still sometimes stings, although he can’t blame Muschamp for doing his job.
There were rumors back in the fall that Muschamp was seen around Athens at different restaurants and bars. Of course, his son is a walk-on quarterback on the team, but it came as a surprise to Tindall that the former Bulldog was brought on the staff.
"The first-day coach Muschamp was here I was watching some extra film with my coach and they were like, 'there's a surprise upstairs.'“ Tindall said. “So, when I look up, and when I see coach Muschamp I'm like 'What! What are you doing here?' So we had a nice little conversation. It's good to have someone from my hometown here, too. So with coach Smart and coach Muschamp, I feel like I have a piece of home here as well."
Muschamp was hired to his role in January where he makes an annual salary of $300,000 per year. That came almost one month after he agreed to a $12.9 million settlement on his contract with USC. As an analyst, Muschamp is not an on-the-field-coach, but having him there positively impacts the locker room.
“He’s probably the guy I lean on the most in terms of coaching the coaches and just drill selection,” Smart said recently. “I ask him, like, ‘Hey, how did you do this?’ or ‘Did you do this period first or this one?’ I’m trying to find new things to make our program better, and I like having him out there a lot. I like having him in the meetings because he’s certainly a confident coach and very competent.”