Kirby Smart made headlines back in 2016 when he was hired to “come home” to coach the University of Georgia Bulldogs football team. The 1999 graduate—who played defensive back at Georgia—now heads a program that is ranked number one in the nation and playing for their second consecutive National Championship. But Coach Smart and wife Mary Beth also love coming back to their second home at Reynolds, where they’ve had a getaway since 2011. We sat down with the Smarts to find out a little more about Reynolds biggest Dawgs fans.

Q: What attracted you to Reynolds Lake Oconee?

Kirby: Mary Beth and I both grew up in Georgia and both of our families still live somewhat close by. We were looking for a location that would be convenient to visit our families, and also easily accessed by an airport if we happened to be working at a school that wasn’t close enough to drive. I obviously love the fact that there are so many great golf courses in Reynolds. That definitely helped us settle our decision.

Mary Beth: The main reason we decided to build a second home is so that if we moved around because of football, our children would have a place that really feels like home. Reynolds definitely feels like that to us now, and after “the big move,” more than ever.

Q: Tell us about your kids.

Mary Beth: Our twins, Weston and Julia, are 14. Weston plays tennis and Julia is a basketball player. Our youngest, Andrew, just turned 10 and has a passion for baseball. All three of them love the lake. We spend a ton of time with them on the boat and playing on the dock while we are here.

Q: Since you've been at UGA, have you spent more time at Reynolds?

Kirby: That is an easy question. Yes.  It’s been an awesome way for us to get away.

Q: Alright, let’s talk football. What was it like to get the UGA job and “come home” to your alma mater?

Kirby: It has been a dream come true. Mary Beth and I have both always loved Athens, and UGA, so for us to have a chance to move back home has been such a blessing. We have really loved being closer to our families. All the grandparents are thrilled, I can assure you that.

Q: You were the defensive coordinator under head coach Nick Saban at Alabama for seven years. Saban is regarded as one of the country’s best college coaches. What lessons did you learn from him?

Kirby: I think the main thing I learned from Coach Saban is time management. Learning how to spend time on each of the pieces that go into a football program. My biggest adjustment will be spending less time with the defense and more with other aspects of the program.

Q: Mary Beth, what did you learn from Mrs. Saban?

Mary Beth: Ms. Terry really was such a great ambassador for the whole University, and she had a way of reaching everyone in the organization.  She left an impression on everyone on the staff—and their wives—that she truly cared about them. I think that’s probably the biggest thing I learned from her, to really show people that you care.

Q: You started your tenure at UGA with a bang—93,000 fans at the first spring game. Now the Georgia Bulldogs are ranked number one in the nation, what else do you think you’ll “shake up” in Athens?

Kirby: I don’t know if I’m trying to shake anything up. I just want to set a standard for excellence. I want everyone in our organization to be held to that standard, from the top down. That starts with me. Our players and coaches are so appreciative of the support that our fans have showed us over the years. We need to take that momentum and keep building upon it.

Q: One final question, Kirby played football at Georgia, Mary Beth played basketball for the Lady Bulldogs, so who’s the better athlete?

Mary Beth: He was definitely the better athlete. I mean, he was All-SEC a couple times and still has some interception records. That’s big time. I was only really a role player in college.

Kirby: Well, she’s definitely got me now. She plays tennis, runs all the time, she’s in much better shape than I am.

 Look for Mary Beth on the courts at Reynolds and Kirby on the links, although Coach Smart hopes you don’t see him teeing it up until after January 9th—the date of this year’s national championship game. Teaser image courtesy of UGA Athletic Association.    

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