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December 4, 2012

Smart stays

TUSCALOOSA | University of Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart is no longer a candidate for the Auburn head coach position, sources close to the situation told The Tuscaloosa News Tuesday.

Sources indicated Auburn received permission to speak with Smart and interviewed the 36-year-old assistant coach Monday, along with several other candidates that included Arkansas State coach Gus Malzahn. According to those sources, Smart was not extended a formal offer for the job. Malzahn, the former Auburn offensive coordinator, was hired Tuesday for the job.Other coached linked to the position included Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris, former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino, and Louisville coach Charlie Strong.

Smart will be among the nation's most sought-after assistant coaches this winter as searches continue at a number of BCS-conference programs. Smart's name has not been linked to any openings other than Auburn's, but some of the more prominent head coaching vacancies include Boston College, Colorado, Purdue, Cal, Tennessee, and most recently, Wisconsin. Arkansas reportedly hired Wisconsin's Bret Bielema Monday.

Smart's name was linked to multiple job openings last winter, including Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Southern Miss.

This season, Smart's defense finished No.1 in the NCAA in rush defense and No. 2 in scoring defense at 10.7 points allowed per game. Smart earned $950,000 in 2012, making him among the nation's highest-paid assistant coaches. He earned $850,000 in 2011. Last month, Smart was named the American Football Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year, his second national assistant of the year honor since 2009.

Auburn fired former coach Gene Chizik on Nov. 25.

Reach Chase Goodbread at chase@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0196.

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