Just because he wasn’t your first choice doesn’t mean he wasn’t his first choice.

I’m not sure what to make of this quote from Mark Richt at yesterday’s meeting of the Albany Chapter of the Georgia Bulldog Club:

… Georgia’s head coach also talked about the timing of Grantham’s hiring, which came after reported discussions with Alabama defensive coordinator and former Bulldog Kirby Smart — a native of Bainbrige — fell through. Richt said he nearly attempted to hire Grantham more than a month earlier than when Grantham accepted the position in January, but also said the Bulldogs might not have been fortunate enough to hire Grantham if he had offered the former Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator that soon.

“I’m not sure we would have gotten him then,” Richt said. “I’m not going to say why but circumstances changed.”

Does that mean Grantham had some initial misgivings about the job that were later cleared up?

The funny thing here is that many of us wondered how Grantham would feel about being the third or fourth choice for the job.  Maybe the question we should have asked then was how Foster and Chavis felt about being fall back options for Richt.

27 Comments

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27 responses to “Just because he wasn’t your first choice doesn’t mean he wasn’t his first choice.

  1. dean

    It sounds like Richt had to squeeze some more money out of DE before he felt like he could offer him the job.

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  2. hailtogeorgia

    Yeah, money would be my guess. I’m sure Richt got the largest offer for Kirby, then when Kirby turned the job down, Richt was able to keep the same amount of money for Grantham.

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    • Damon thought he could pay an experienced NFL assistant less than a second year college football defensive coordinator? I thought he was smarter than that.

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      • Chuck

        Clearly, I have no special inside information, but I can envision scenarios where DE is testing the market and doesn’t give CMR $750,000 authority initially, but as things wear on and it becomes apparent that is what it is going to take, he comes up with the cash. It is also possible that Grantham may have had other options that he would not have wanted to close out in December, but in January, due to a change of circumstances (to use CMR’s words), he was. I have a hard time presuming anything sinister or unfortunate in any of this. To me, the only reason anyone thinks this is press speculation and CMR’s willingness to keep people’s business private to the extent that he can.

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      • hailtogeorgia

        Yes, sadly, I think he did. Don’t forget, prior to this year, UGA assistant coaches were paid some of the lowest salaries in the SEC and none had multi-year contracts. Also, while NFL experience is certainly a big deal, Grantham did have his knocks, and Kirby was a homegrown guy coming off of a national championship. I absolutely think he thought he could pay less, he knew Kirby would command a lot of cash because of Alabama’s bankroll, and he was right.

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  3. The Realist

    So…. Richt, in a sense, used Kirby to get his first choice – Grantham?

    Seems to be a win-win for everyone involved. Kirby gets a truckload of money for babysitting Saban’s defense, and Richt gets the DC he wanted to begin with.

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  4. heyberto

    Whatever the case may be, in retrospect I think Grantham was the best choice…. Kirby might have been good for recruiting intially, but I’m very happy with Grantham so far.. we’ll see how his Defense does, but from where I’m sitting today, I couldn’t be happier with the decision to hire him, no matter where he was in the initial pecking order.

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    • Macallanlover

      +1. I was never in the KS camp for two reasons: 1) not confident much of the Bama defensive performance can be attributed to KS and, 2) he would have been a touch-and-go DC at UGA staying 1-2 seasons at the most unless he laid an egg, in which case we dont need him anyway.

      None of us will ever know the whole story about the timing and reasons for what happened in Richt and Evan’s heads, but I really am digging the way CTG has handled himself since accepting the job. A bonus is the way recruits are reacting to UGA having a successful NFL guy installing, and teaching, a defensive scheme that is spreading in both the collegiate and professional ranks.

      Even though we will stumble some defensively the first two seasons, I like where we sit with an offense capable of hanging in with anyone and outscoring a few teams when needed, and a defensive hard-arse teaching some talented athletes a system that favors mobile athletes unleashed to attack.

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  5. Derek

    Couldn’t it be less sinister? Perhaps Gratham was focused on the playoffs? Maybe he tought he might get the Cowboys DC job at the end of the season? I really don’t think that cash was ever the issue.

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    • Where are y’all getting this “sinister” stuff from?

      I think it’s interesting for two reasons. One, it flips the press narrative about the hire completely on its face (Mark Bradley, are you paying attention?). Second, whatever the initial hesitation was over, Richt was able to overcome it and get the guy he wanted.

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      • Charles D.

        Wade Phillips had suffered late season collapses in the two seasons before this one and the Cowboys had not won a playoff game in 10 years.

        It looked, with a month left in the season, like the Cowboys were about to fold up again and Wade Phillips would get fired. Of course, they turned things around, got into the playoffs and made a run, thus Phillips kept his job and the staff remained intact for an extra month.

        Grantham may have been retained as DC with the new staff, or he could have been lined up to take another DC job in the NFL as soon as the season was over, then his season lasted another month and that job was already taken.

        Regardless, we will see how it worked out for CMR and Grantham.

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  6. When I first read that quote, I had to wonder what was meant. I think it is possible that Richt and Grantham both had the pulse of the Bulldog nation, and we were collectively clamoring for Hometown Kirby. I imagine that the outrage of the fanbase had Richt hired Grantham without even trying to get Kirby (or at least looking like he was trying to get Kirby) would have been enormous. It seems to me that Richt recognized this, and saw that the fans would never like Grantham because he was not “the man.” By trying to “hire” Kirby first, Richt made Kirby the bad guy and Grantham the hero, and thus the dawg nation welcomed him instead of resenting him. Maybe I’ve been reading too much Robert Jordan, but I think this might have been Richt’s DC hire plan the whole time.

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    • Rum-Dawg Millionaire

      I think this is probably the most far-fetched theory I’ve heard thus far. Do you honestly think that Mark Richt was going to make a decision based on how he thought the fans would react? That’s ridiculous. It didn’t matter who he had hired, there were going to be some that liked the hire, and some that didn’t… but in the end, all that matters is if the new DC gets the job done, because that’s how this hire is going to be truly judged by the fans… NOT by how they felt about it when it was announced.

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  7. CDawg

    Not sure sinister is the right word, but I do believe Richt was rather strategic in whom he talked to about the job as well as timing.

    Unlike Mark Bradley, I think Richt was quite clever in the process.

    I think Richt got his man in the end and was able to cover any concerns Damon Evans and the administration may have had about salary by making almost every other (and, except maybe for Alabama, less profitable) SEC school pony up the same amount for their status quo at the D.C. position.

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    • JC in Powder Springs

      If it’s a ‘clever’ hire, then it’s long overdue. It usually seems CMR takes whomever is standing nearby at the moment there’s an opening. If it’s not an ole pal like Martinez, Fabris, Lilly, Van Halinger or Eason, then it’s a former Dawg player who doesn’t appear to have a job, like Bobo or McClendon.

      How can you let coaches like BVG and Smart walk away and bring in a Jancek as a replacement?

      It appears the newer guys like Searels, Grantham, Belin & Lakatos have been vetted much more than in the past – and I’m very happy to see coaches with better qualifications on the staff. But CMR’s history of hires might be closer to haphazard than clever.

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      • Rum-Dawg Millionaire

        More unfounded Bobo hate. Go look at a statistics sheet and then come back and talk to us about how Mike Bobo wouldn’t have a job if he wasn’t a Dawg.

        As far as letting coaches like BVG and Smart “walk away,” Kirby Smart coached exactly one year at UGA, as a running backs coach. And I didn’t hear anybody clamoring about keeping him when he left in 2006 to coach DB’s at Miami. I also never heard anybody make a peep about Kirby Smart until Alabama won the National Championship in 2009 with “Nick Saban’s defense,” so don’t give me that crap about how you can’t believe Richt “let Kirby walk.” Kirby has always been a nomad and will probably always be a nomad.

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  8. Boy, fans sure do think a lot of themselves. People out there honestly believe that the Head Coach of a Major College Program caters to the whims of chatboards and such. It’s unbelievably naive.

    IMO, the closest response to the mark is by Charles D. What Charles proposes is exactly along the lines of what I was thinking. The “circumstances” would have been based around GRANTHAM not around Kirby. With Wade facing a possible fire, Grantham would have been looking at the possibility of handing in a resume to Cowboys management, looking for a higher job. He had built up goodwill with the Cowboys, and had DC experience, perhaps he believed he could score a DC job with a new incoming HC. Or, perhaps he was thinking of going for the HC job.

    Most likely, though, the circumstances that changed were quite simply the fact that a month previous, Grantham was a coach preparing for a playoff run. He was coaching on a team just a few wins away from a Super Bowl. You don’t leave that team to hit the recruiting trail a bit earlier. No, you buckle down, get to work, and try to win a ring.

    When the loss happened (circumstances changed) the door opened, and the hire happened.

    Why do people look for behind-the-curtain tricks and sinister plans? The simplest answer is usually the correct one, folks.

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    • Most likely, though, the circumstances that changed were quite simply the fact that a month previous, Grantham was a coach preparing for a playoff run. He was coaching on a team just a few wins away from a Super Bowl. You don’t leave that team to hit the recruiting trail a bit earlier. No, you buckle down, get to work, and try to win a ring.

      You may be right, Ben, but if that’s the case, why didn’t the two men just strike a deal that wouldn’t go into effect until the Cowboys lost in the playoffs?

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      • Derek

        And if the Cowboys make it to Super Bowl (to be played 4 days before signing day)? I doubt that plan would have worked out so well.

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        • It’s the most important hire of Richt’s career. Grantham’s his guy. So if you’re Richt, you chunk all that to have a body you can wave at recruits?

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          • Derek

            If “your guy” won’t talk about the opening until the first monday in Feb., then you have to move on.

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            • Dawgaholic

              You’re forgetting that Grantham was hired before the Cowboys lost.

              Lots of things change during a potential job search. It may be that Grantham simply needed more time to think about it before pulling the trigger to come back to college. This is a big change in career path.

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            • Rum-Dawg Millionaire

              Says the guy who has no doubt hired many assistant coaches from the NFL.

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            • But he did talk. And he expressed enough interest that Richt contemplated a much earlier offer.

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  9. gernblanski

    Perhaps, Grantham and his family just liked living in Dallas. It is a great city with lots of nice places to raise a family.

    I think maybe he or his family had reservations about moving to a smaller college town. How old are his kids? If they are middle school to high school age (I honestly do not know), they might not have been excited with it.

    Coupled with the fact that the Cowboys had strong run at the end of the going into the playoffs, Grantham might have thought it was too much to throw at them during the holidays.

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