Kirby Smart Jan 8, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart looks on during the fourth quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2018 CFP national championship college football game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t long ago that Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart was working under legendary Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban. But even though he’s at Georgia now, competing with Saban every season, it sounds like he still has plenty of respect for his former boss.

“Nick’s been tremendous for our sport when you think about nobody has moved the college football game more than he has,” Smart said on The Paul Finebaum Show, according to On3. “He has done a tremendous job at changing the game. The SEC is the premier place, primarily because he started bringing national championships there when he was at LSU. So he’s done a lot for this game.”

Smart revealed just how much he respects Saban, calling Alabama “the measuring stick” for college football.

“[I have a] tremendous respect for what they do [at Alabama],” Smart said. “Let’s be honest – they’ve been the measuring stick. And I was a part of it for nine years and saw it. And I know the preparation that goes into national championship games.

“I mean, he doesn’t lose many national championship games when he has that time to prepare. And he does a really good job. So to do it and beat them, that’s special. But also I have a tremendous amount of respect for him, the way he runs his program. And really probably one of the best jobs he’s ever done with his team, because they were really young at some positions. And I think they’ve got the best player in college football in Bryce Young, and I saw it firsthand on the field in the SEC Championship.”

They may be competitors, but it’s clear that there’s still a lot of respect between Smart and Saban.