Four thoughts on the Grantham hire

Even after you weed out all the “agile, hostile and mobile” red meat comments for the fan base, there’s still a lot left to chew on from what Richt and Grantham had to say during yesterday’s teleconference.  Here’s my take on what we heard:

  1. Anticipation… is making me wait. Remember all the finger wagging we’ve been doing in Mark Richt’s face about how the DC hire may be the most important decision of his career?  Well, guess what, people?  Mark Richt thinks so, too. Combine that with a personality that’s by nature thoughtful and deliberate and in retrospect it’s not hard to see that this pick was never going to be a rush job.  Richt had his time frame in mind from the get go (i.e., this weekend) and a process that he wanted to follow.  Unless something dropped into his lap unexpectedly, that pace was never likely to be changed.  Which leads me to my second point…
  2. We may not have taken Damon Evans seriously, but the coaching community did. Pretend you’re Bud Foster for a minute.  Mark Richt calls to talk about his due diligence on Todd Grantham.  After speaking for a while about the candidate (who, by the way, is seven years younger than you and coached under you at VT), you learn that under the right circumstances the University of Georgia is prepared to make somebody the third highest paid coordinator in college football.  Unless you’re brain-damaged or insane, what are likely to be the next words coming out of your mouth upon hearing that?  And once that happens, how does Mark Richt ignore the interest of established guys like Foster and Chavis?  Short answer:  he doesn’t, but he doesn’t let his time track for the hire get thrown off, either.  Those guys had their shot, they squeezed the opportunity for what it was worth and Richt moved on.  What I find most significant is that we’ve heard of only two guys that got the maximum offer from Georgia.  One of the two stayed in Tuscaloosa.  The other is the new defensive coordinator.  It’s hard to fault Richt for that.
  3. Mark Richt has a place for Rodney Garner as long as Rodney Garner wants it. Todd Grantham has never met Rodney Garner, but has “heard good things about him”.  Todd Grantham will also be coaching linebackers.  That’s a message from Mark Richt, not just to Grantham, but also to Damon Evans.  There’s probably nobody happier about the size of Grantham’s contract besides Grantham than Garner.  And why not?  Everyone notes that Mark Richt is now the dean of SEC coaches, but is there a current assistant coach in the conference who’s been at his present school longer than Garner?  Toss in the way he’s held things together in the most turbulent season of the Richt era and it’s hard to begrudge the man.  On the flip side, there’s a lot of good in Athens for Garner.  He gets to absorb line coaching in a 3-4 scheme; that’s got to be a plus for the resume.  And you’d think he’s counting his blessings that he resisted Lane Kiffin’s overtures last year.
  4. The real process starts now. Forget about the job search.  Think about what’s left on Mark Richt’s plate.  Recruiting.  Filling out the rest of the coaching staff openings.  Personnel evaluation.  Installing a totally new defensive scheme.  More personnel evaluation.  Lather and repeat.  Make no mistake about this hire – it represents the most significant change in the program since Richt’s start.  My personal feeling is one of great excitement.  I think the program was in need of some new energy and needed to be shaken up, but none of us knows if Grantham will prove to be the right man for the job.  But I do know this:  if I start seeing kids learning proper technique, tackling consistently, playing their assignments, pass protecting the middle of the field, I’m gonna be one happy fellow.  That’s a process I can look forward to watching play out.

25 Comments

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25 responses to “Four thoughts on the Grantham hire

  1. i’m upbeat. i surely only heard the guy’s name yesterday, but to the extent the confidence others have had in him that themselves have great defensive reputations (saban et al), it gives me confidence.

    but the vexing, hand wringing question for me now: do i root for the cowboys to win?

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    • Go Cowboys

      yes. A Super Bowl champion coach on the staff sounds very attractive.

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      • Carruthers

        No, no, no. Now I’ll pull for the Cowboys in a vacuum, but we need Mr. Grantham to finish his season and take some house visits for recruiting. And why does it matter if our staff sounds attractive? Results are all that matter. (See: Steve Spurrier at South Carolina)

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        • Go Cowboys

          Recruits are the reason I am thinking. I agree on the results. We’ll get to those. At this point, I don’t think Grantham’s season continiuing is in any way a bad thing for us. In addition to any ancillary benefits his NFL success brings, demonstrating that he is a man of character who honors his commitments is a good thing as I see it.

          Oh, well Todd will be in the office next week. You know he has to coach in the Super Bowl.

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  2. Mayor of Dawgtown

    Excellent, thoughtful and analytical post, Senator.

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  3. Toom

    Very well said Senator. Anyone with thoughts on the following? Does the change from 3-4 affect LBs or DTs more? Any chance Rennie comes back or does that ship sail when he doesn’t register for classes?

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    • Hobnail_Boot

      It’s going to affect DE’s the most. In the 3-4 scheme you’re going to see our current talent “moving out”. That is, you’ll probably see some former DT’s playing DE (My guess would be Tyson and/or Tyson move out). You’ll also likely see guys like Houston and Robinson move to OLB/DE. For a good comparison, watch how the Denver Broncos used Elvis Dumervil this season. He’s officially a LB but about 60% of the time he actually put a hand down. To a lot of casual fans, a lot of our 3-4 sets will look like 4-3 sets.

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    • JasonC

      I don’t think Rennie will come back. It would mean learning a new system. I have no doubts he could succeed, but if he struggled, it would hurt his draft status.

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  4. May be the most reasoned post of this whole episode. Nice job, Senator.

    I am not sure Grantham is going to wow the recruits much this year. Next year, and for years to come defensive studs will be clamoring to play in Grantham’s system.

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    • Carruthers

      I might disagree with you. I think the recruits will be very attracted to Grantham even this year. A new, popular system and a coach straight out of the NFL- a playoff team, no less- would excite me.

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      • I hope you are right. The problem is that message will not be delivered to the recruits in a vacuum.

        We are still going up against Saban, Urban, and Kiffin at USC. None are afraid to use negative recruiting.

        Still, I believe there is enough talent on campus for Grantham to make significant progress and demonstrate what his style of defense can do for a young blue-chipper.

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        • Will Q

          Saban might not be showing any weaknesses right now, but I think we’ve got plenty of negative recruiting material on Meyer and Kiffin to throw right back at them for this off season.

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  5. Excellent post. A very rational take on this search process that is finally over.

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  6. 69Dawg

    The real head scratcher in this was that the 3 DT’s from last year were begging Willie to go to the 3-4. Imagine those three in that scheme with our then DE’s moved to OLBs. Pity Willie could not be moved to try something new.

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  7. One of the best posts I’ve read on the situation, Senator.

    The thing I love most about Mark Richt is that he is unaffected by the noise.

    Fans loved it in the early days. Coach Richt was cool, even keeled, and unflappable when we marched down the field and stomped on Tennessee’s face with a hobnailed boot–in front of 100,000 fans who had just seen what they thought was their answer to Belue to Scott, with a redshirt freshman at quarterback (in his first road start), and with a team full of players who were used to losing that type of game–his demeanor was praised as his greatest asset.

    Then, in 2006, when the program hit its first rough patch under his watch, in a season where we lost to Vandy and Kentucky, many Georgia ‘fans’ (who had only started pulling for Georgia because of Richt’s success) decided that Richt was no longer cool under fire. Instead, he had become aloof.

    But he didn’t change his approach, and Richt kept his head on straight and rallied us to 3 wins over top 16 teams.

    The next season, we get blown away by Tennessee and are a miracle fumble away from losing to Vandy for the second year in a row, when Richt again manages to right the ship despite the DawgVent melting internet lines all over the state to finish #2 in the country.*

    Finally, we start 08 with the only preseason #1 ranking in school history only to have two incredibly frustrating seasons full of awful defensive performances.

    Again, the opinion du jour on message boards and AJC comment pages was that Mark Richt and the Georgia program was ‘too soft’. Meyer and Kiffin were going to eat us up on and off the field. Richt didn’t have the stones to fire Martinez. Until, he did.

    But then the problem was that the search wasn’t going fast enough, that we were getting spurned by guys left and right, that recruiting was falling apart, blah, blah, blah. Meanwhile, Meyer has some sort of nervous breakdown/drama queen episode and Kiffin leaves UT#2 with a caravan of Mayflower trucks.

    Despite all the noise, despite the pressure from the fans and the media, the aloof coach ran the search the way he wanted to run the search. And, while I admittedly wanted to give the old Dawg Travis Jones a shot, it looks like we got a pretty damn good coach. Any defensive coach who has been hired by Nick Saban, Dom Capers, Romeo Crenell, and Jim Mora has to know what he’s doing. And so does Mark Richt.

    Football coaches are just like everyone else. They reveal themselves during the down times. Which is exactly why I’m sure we’ve got the right man in Athens. His quiet confidence might not play as well day to day as the bluster of somebody like Kiffin but, as every man knows, the baddest man in the room is never the dude puffing his chest out–it’s the quiet guy who doesn’t have to convince himself that he can get the job done.

    If Aaron Murray is as good as advertised, I think Richt is on the verge of returning us to one of the top 3 teams in this conference.

    *The #2 final AP ranking in 2007 is the highest UGA has ever finished in that poll outside of 1980.

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  9. ugajeff

    Amen Senator! Everyone we’ve heard reports that Richt has talked to were definite A-list guys. More importantly, as you said, there were only 2 confirmed offers: The first was the Broyles Award winner, and the 2nd is our new DC! Hard to complain with that! Best line I’ve heard yet, per Dean Legge at ugasports, “Be careful not to win the press conference, and lose the coaching battle!”

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  10. Dawg N Suds

    A fresh start and a clean slate for anyone on the defensive side who wants badly enough to start and get a great deal of playing time.

    A favorable schedule and time to learn a new scheme.

    Watching the Cowboys, I am betting this defense will not be so predictable.

    Let’s get the position coaches and let the competition begin.

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  11. Dawgbob

    He doesn’t even have to do a great job. If the D ranks in the top 40 and/or justs keeps teams under 30…everything else being equal, we finish a top 5 team every year.

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  12. Sam

    Re: technique. A couple of commentators have noted that one of the outcomes of the 20 hr practice week is that time spent on tackling and teaching technique has dropped well off. I wonder how many coaches spend time on teaching basic tackling technique during that 20hr time block. (Yes, I am aware that the 20hr week is a joke and that football players spend more time than that although not on the practice field).

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  13. Jim from Duluth

    Hmmm … so if Grantham as coordinator will work with LBs, Garner is retained to coach DL, and supposedly they have a DB coach lined up (guy from UConn, I think) .. that leaves one extra slot on the coaching staff. As I recall some grad asst. did a bang-up job with special teams for the bowl game ….

    Jim

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