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Kirby Smart celebrates with Terrence Cody. (AP)

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- Texas coach Mack Brown and athletic director DeLoss Dodds each liked Longhorns defensive coordinator Will Muschamp so much that they made him the head coach-in-waiting and gave him a $900,000 salary. Could another former Georgia defensive back become the coach-in-waiting at another name-brand program?

Alabama coach Nick Saban was pretty non-committal Wednesday when I asked him his opinion of coach-in-waiting arrangements, but he said they can work very well under the correct circumstances. It's not too much of a stretch to speculate that if Saban and Alabama athletic director Mal Moore ever did decide to name Saban's successor, they might pick defensive coordinator Kirby Smart. Smart, who turned 34 last month and who won the 2009 Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant, has "future head coach" written all over him. It's only a matter of time before programs begin to woo him the way they have tried to woo Muschamp.

Muschamp, who played one year with Smart at Georgia and coached with him at Valdosta State and LSU, believes Smart would be perfect for the arrangement. "I don't think there's any question if that's what Nick wanted to do," Muschamp said. "[Smart] is a big-picture guy. He sees the whole deal. He understands the three phases of the game. He understands recruiting. He understands motivation in the offseason. That's why he's a good coach.

"I don't think there's any question, if that's an avenue they want to travel down. It would be smart for Alabama."

Indeed it would be Smart for Alabama. But would Saban go for it? Wednesday, he explained the circumstances he would require to sign off on any coach-in-waiting arrangement. "If that's the best thing that they want to have to try to create continuity in a program, I think that's probably the purpose," Saban said. "And I think that if you have the right chemistry in terms of who the people are that are associated with a situation like that, it could work very well. But I think if the chemistry was not correct, it may not work very well. So I think it would all be time and circumstance relative to the chemistry involved."

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