Louisville just did Mark Richt a favor by hiring away defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. Bobby Petrino in affect just did what Mark Richt never had the guts to do, and with the vacant coordinator position, it brings upon Richt’s most important hire during his tenure.
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Talent has never been the problem for the Bulldogs, but developing that talent and getting top players to play to their potential has been.
And Todd Grantham couldn’t do that. Despite an NFL-filled roster, Grantham’s defenses have underachieved, and his defenses were no better – numbers-wise – than Willie Martinez’s. Outside of 2011 – and maybe part of 2012 – Georgia’s defense hasn’t played to level they’ve been capable of. You may have to go back to 2006 under Martinez to find a defense that actually played up to potential the last several years.
Richt is a winner, but his tenure has been defined by mediocrity and underachieving. Despite putting top players in the NFL year after year and a 126-45 career record, Georgia and Richt have proven just how hard it is to win a national championship. LSU, Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Tennessee all won national championships in the BCS era. Georgia belongs in that group; they get as much or more talent than every single one of those former champions, and yet, they have no championship.
Richt’s tenure could be defined by this hire, and it’s the most important hire he’s had since he’s been at Georgia. He has a chance to erase the past and build a future championship program. Georgia has 10 starters returning on defense, and a strong core nucleus to build a championship defense.
Several defensive coordinators have been connected and mentioned with respect to the opening, and it all starts with Alabama DC Kirby Smart. The Georgia graduate is sitting pretty at Alabama, and he can handpick his future head-coaching destination. His salary moves from $1.15 million to $1.3 this year. Truly, I feel Smart would only make the move if he’ll get paid more money and has some sort of a look into the future of the program. I also feel that Richt could step down quicker than most anticipate, and that could segue into the Kirby Smart era at Georgia. He’s not going to make a lateral move to be another coordinator. Besides, Greg McGarity isn’t going to pay Smart that kind of money to be just a coordinator. This could be a fascinating look into Richt’s future if Smart is hired.
Other potential candidates:
- Kirk Olivadottia, UGA inside LBs coach
- Chris Wilson, UGA defensive line coach
- Clancy Pendergrast, former Southern Cal defensive coordinator
- Manny Diaz, former Texas defensive coordinator
- David Gibbs, Houston defensive coordinator
- Randy Shannon, Arkansas LBs coach
- Jeremy Pruitt, FSU defensive coordinator
Smart would be the obvious homerun hire, but Pendergrast or Shannon would be strong hires, too. Other names like Auburn’s Ellis Johnson and South Carolina’s Lorenzo Ward have been mentioned as candidates, but would either be willing to leave their current situations?
Mark Richt is facing his most important hire since he’s been at Georgia, a hire that could ultimately redefine his tenure.
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