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Kirby Smart Withdraws from Consideration at Southern Miss

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Kirby Smart interviewed for the vacant head coaching position this past week, but has since withdrawn from consideration. Per ESPN:

Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, the architect of the Crimson Tide's top-rated defense, has withdrawn from consideration for Southern Mississippi's head coaching vacancy after interviewing with Golden Eagles officials in Atlanta on Thursday, sources close to the situation told ESPN.com on Friday night.

Smart, who is in his fourth season as Alabama's defensive coordinator, was considered the front-runner to replace Larry Fedora, who is leaving to become coach at North Carolina.

Placing a definite value on Smart's relative importance is exceedingly difficult because at the end of the day it is still Nick Saban's defense and Saban is clearly the mastermind behind it all. Even so, losing another coordinator on the eve of the BCS National Championship Game is obviously something Alabama does not need, so while the Saban defense will probably be fine long-term even without Smart in Tuscaloosa.

And, frankly, it seems like Smart will most likely return to Alabama for another season. Several openings have presented themselves this year that Smart likely could have landed had he so desired, but he has been relatively quiet this offseason and has largely shunned interest in programs with head coaching vacancies. Things can obviously change at any minute, and for the record a handful of jobs are still available, but for the time being it looks like unless he bolts to the NFL in mid-to-late January that Smart will be returning for another tour of duty in Tuscaloosa in 2012.