Since Todd Grantham is the latest name to be thrown into the saga that is “As The DC Turns”, I thought it only fitting to do a little research on him and find out what his pedigree is and how his name came to be thrown into the hat as a prospective candidate.
To start, he was the defensive line coach for the Virginia Tech Hokies from 1993-95 and, under his tutelage, the defense was ranked No. 1 against the run, allowing just 77.4 yards per contest. Grantham’s philosophy at the time was stated as thus:
“If you stop the run, you’ve got a good chance to win the ball game. You want to make the quarterback beat you. You want to make the other team one-dimensional.”—Richmond Times Dispatch, December 1995
In his final season as Virginia Tech’s defensive line coach, the Hokies went 10-2 and defeated Texas in the Sugar Bowl 28-10—holding the talented duo of Ricky Williams and Shon Mitchell (who averaged 207 yards per game for the season) to only 77 yards.
Grantham parlayed his success with Virginia Tech, who was a member of the Big East at the time, into a job as a Big Ten assistant. He was hired by, then head coach, Nick Saban, to coach the defensive line for the Spartans.
While there, Grantham’s defense made major strides. In 1995, the year prior to his arrival, the Spartans gave up 338 points to the opposition. In Grantham’s first season as line coach, that amount dropped by 36-points—good enough to rank the Spartan’s 19th in the nation.
In 1997, the Spartan’s gave up only 237 points on the year (13th), incuding a 49-14 blowout of Penn State—Michigan State’s largest margin of victory over the Lions during Saban’s tenure.
Grantham left the Spartans after the 1998 season to join the Indianapolis Colts coaching staff as their defensive line coach. The Colts were coming off a dismal 3-13 season but were poised for a turnaround.
In his first full season as an assistant in the pros, Grantham helped the defense excel as the Colts went 13-3 and racked up 28 sacks on the year.
After a short stint with the Texans (2002-04), there was a small bidding war for Grantham’s services. Both Romeo Crennel of Cleveland and Nick Saban of Miami wanted him as their team’s defensive coordinator. Grantham turned Saban down to take the job with the Browns.
In his first year (2005) as Browns DC, Grantham’s defense ranked near the top of the league in pass defense (4th, allowing 179.2 ypg), points allowed (11th with 17.7 ppg) and total defense (16th with 316.8 ypg).
During his second year, he helped guide the maturation of both former Georgia safety, Sean Jones, and current New England Patriots defensive back, Leigh Bodden—leading the tandem to make 11 interceptions combined in the season that followed (2007).
The Browns record of 10-6 that year was recognized as one of the biggest improvements in the NFL (having gone 4-12 in 2006)—Grantham’s defense was a big part of that resurgence and his success was the catalyst behind a two-year extension he would be awarded in 2007.
He was let go before the extension would kick in but his unemployment wouldn’t last long. The Cowboys snapped him up a mere 24-hours later and he is in his third season as their defensive line coach.
Grantham has nine years of college coaching experience and eleven as an NFL assistant—including two seasons as a defensive coordinator. His defensive scheme is the 3-4; has been since his Cleveland days. Would that be a problem for the Dawgs? Not necessarily.
Current defensive line coach, Rodney Garner, has already stated that it would not matter what scheme the new coordinator brought to the table. We have the personnel to fit any scheme. So, it’s not likely that his philosophy would be a minus.
As a recruiter, Grantham is familiar with the south and was given a big swath of the South Florida area to recruit when he was at Virginia Tech. He also had the reputation for being a solid recruiter when he was on Saban’s staff at Michigan State.
Grantham has the pedigree and would be a great hire if we could get him away from the pros. As of now, the Dallas Cowboys are playoff bound and it is unlikely that we would know anything more about the likelihood of this hire until it’s clear that their season is done.
If you are itching for a bit more on Grantham, knock yourself out.
In the meantime, the rumors of Kirby Smart to Georgia continue to live (pay site) and are likely closer to being answered now that Alabama’s bowl game is finally set to happen.
We shall all remain on pins and needles until more info is announced. Stay tuned.