If you were surprised by the announcement that, the now former defensive coordinator for the Georgia Bulldogs, Todd Grantham offered his resignation on Sunday night, count yourself among the majority. However, if you keep your ear anywhere near the rumor mill, you saw this coming since before mid-season—at the very least you knew he wasn’t long for this job after the debacle that was Vanderbilt!
It’s no secret that Grantham was a guy whom many considered an acquired taste. His approach to coaching the 3-4 scheme, he believed so deeply in, caused him to bump heads with the powers-that-be in more than one organization. However, “The Georgia Way” of doing things doesn’t lend well to big egos and heavy tension. Head Coach Mark Richt runs a bit of a tight ship, but he tends to like said ship to be peaceful and the gruff, sometimes stand offish personality of Grantham often made you wonder if he was the best guy for the job.
After last night, though, his name will no longer be the topic of conversation in Butts-Mehre. He, like Scott Lakatos this past Friday night, left for better opportunities. The Louisville Cardinals offered him what Georgia certainly wasn’t going to—a guaranteed contract worth $1 million a year…yes, Bobby Petrino saw fit to pay him more than Georgia (clearly, he bumped his head a bit harder in that accident a couple years back than we thought).
Even so, make no mistake, whether it was last night or the end of the year, Grantham’s days in Athens were numbered. He knew it, Richt knew it, and the fans knew it; and by leaving on his own accord, he saved the athletic director the trouble of having to buy/wait him out.
Now, what does Georgia do about filling this huge vacancy? Who will they target?
The hot name is, of course, Alabama Defensive Coordinator Kirby Smart. The same that turned down the job two-years ago, at the last minute, leaving Richt to settle for Grantham in the first place. What’s to keep Smart from doing the same thing again?
Honestly, I’m on the fence where Smart is concerned; from a recruiting standpoint, there’s little doubt he would be a slam dunk, but I don’t know that he’s any more ready to make the move back to Georgia than he was back then but, of course, opinions on that certainly differ.
…if Smart took this job, he could hit the ground running, recruit like crazy and win. The offense is better. Georgia is already basically running the same 3-4 defense Smart would want to bring from Alabama. There would be only a few tweaks, no outright installation necessary. That would be an enormous advantage for a first-year coordinator.
From Smart’s perspective, the situation may have changed a little at Alabama too. In 2009, the Crimson Tide had just won its first national title under Nick Saban. Alabama has since won two more. Fair or not, there really isn’t anywhere else to go but down from that. (Gentry Estes, Dawgs247)
A large majority of the fan base would get behind Smart if he took the job, and there seems to be legitimate reason to believe he’ll at least be contacted to find out if he’s interested, but Richt knows this hire needs to be quick, splashy, and clean, and from the sound of it, he couldn’t be happier to make it happen—finally.
We have a lot of defensive players coming back, as well as some outstanding defensive recruits, and there’s going to be plenty of interest in coaching them. I’m excited about the prospects of a great defensive coordinator being on board as quickly as possible.”