ATLANTA -- The similarities between Nick Saban and Kirby Smart are obvious.

Neither are brash. They are keen on discipline and pushing out the noise. And both believe there's always something that can be improved.

But Smart, Saban's old defensive coordinator and protégé, has his own style as a head coach. He's a master recruiter and has a personal touch with recruits and their families. He lets the kids express their personalities. And he doesn't mind them having some fun, celebrating their achievements on the sideline with the 'Savage' pads.

Much has been made throughout the week about the two coaches meeting in the national championship on Monday. Smart's Bulldogs go up against Saban's Crimson Tide to try and capture their first national title since 1980.

Saban vs. Smart Episode I is happening much sooner than expected. They are not scheduled to meet in the regular season until 2020.

The little tendencies that Smart took to Athens from Tuscaloosa are apparent, but with Saban sitting a few feet away from him on Sunday during their joint press conference, Smart said what he took away the most from his time working with Saban was his commitment to the program.

"Holding everybody in the organization to a standard that he kind of embraced himself. He never asked anybody in the organization to work any harder than he did," Smart said. "And I'm not talking about just the coaching staff, I'm talking about the entire organization, to be at their best."

Smart compared it to a business, and it's not something he's typically seen in other programs.

"I don't think people appreciate what he's been able to do in the most competitive college football league for a long time, and when you start talking about what he's been able to do, I think it's pretty incredible," Smart said.

It's pretty evident Saban is in total control of his program and, really, his university. And if you don't like it, you can get out.

Saban gets mad. We've all seen him rip his headset off during games and rip into his assistants. But that never really happened when Smart was running his defense. Smart was a part of four championship teams at Alabama.

"Kirby did as good a job as anybody ever did for us in the time that he was with us and whatever his role was and especially when he was in a position of responsibility," Saban said.

Saban, like most head coaches, is proud to see those under his wing flourish. Smart ran Saban's defenses for eight seasons before getting hired for his first head coaching job in 2016.

They weren't just two co-workers. They were family. Saban's wife, Terry, was there when Smart's children were born. The Smart and Saban families have stayed in touch. There's no ill will.

"I'm extremely proud of anyone on our staff who goes on and does a good job. One thing that I've said is I always tell guys, and I told Kirby this when he left, be your own man, be yourself, do it the way you think it ought to be done," Saban said. "Don't try to be somebody else."

Smart has done that, to an extent. But he seems to have that itch for perfection and won't ever smile until the ultimate goal has been achieved. Who does that remind you of?

And when in doubt, why not be more like the man who remains perfect against his former assistants. Saban is 11-0 when going up a head coach that is a former assistants of his.

So Saban's advice may not actually be the best.

Or Smart has perfected the Saban model, and is using it to take Georgia to a new prominence.

Guess we'll have to wait until Monday to find out which.