A variety of thoughts that popped into my head after learning the news that Georgia’s in the market for a new defensive coordinator:
- The contract. Seriously, can anybody blame Grantham for jumping at a five-year, $5 million guaranteed deal? Hell, if he hadn’t taken it, I’d have questioned his judgment. There’s no way Georgia would match an offer like that and I doubt Grantham even asked.
- The timeline. Pretty damned fast, I’d say. Petrino was officially named Louisville’s head coach on Thursday. He first offered the DC job to Alabama’s Kevin Steele, who initially, according to reports, accepted and then changed his mind and declined. Petrino and Grantham made contact on Saturday, per Greg McGarity. It’s a done deal the next day.
- The initiator. The $64000 question we’ll probably never get an answer to is who reached out to whom first. And I’d sure like to know, for a couple of reasons. Is Petrino that impressed with Grantham’s run at Georgia? Or was Grantham perhaps being proactive in response to “that talk” with Mark Richt? The size of the contract and the fact that Grantham was telling recruits after Lakatos’ departure that he was busy looking for a replacement make me lean in Petrino’s direction, but the speed with which the two came together would argue in favor of Grantham letting Petrino know that he might be in play with the right offer. It’s a mystery unlikely to be solved.
- Nepotism, for the win? I’m not sure how much this came in to play, but one thing’s for sure. It’s a helluva lot easier to hire your brother to coach at Louisville than it is at Georgia.
- Rodney Garner. Twice Richt called on Garner to hold things together when the defensive staff was in transition. On both occasions, Garner came through. On the other hand, there’s been plenty of chatter over the years about Garner being a sticking point with certain occupants/would be occupants of the coordinator spot. This time, he ain’t around to make a difference either way. Which leads to…
- Recruiting. The early response from recruits hasn’t been too troubling – anywhere from no difference to wait-and-see mode is manageable. In any event, this is the worst reason in the world to rush into a hiring decision. I expect Richt is smart enough to know that.
- The hiring process. Richt claims that he’s already had a fair amount of interest expressed in the position and I have little reason to doubt that. It’s an attractive job. There is plenty of returning talent, with a good class coming in this season if the staff can hold things together. And the position coach opening in the secondary gives anyone coming in a leg up on shaping the defensive staff. My gut tells me that it won’t take as long to hire somebody as it did when Richt replaced Martinez.
- Greg McGarity. He won’t be micromanaging the hire, but you can be damned sure he’s in control of the contract parameters. Georgia isn’t as desperate to attract top coaching talent as Louisville, so it won’t be necessary to lay out the same kind of deal that Grantham got to land a qualified replacement, but this is the SEC and you’re not going to get your guy without a competitive offer, which makes it hard for me to see how Richt gets his man for much less than what Grantham was getting while in Athens. This part of the play is going to be interesting to watch, to say the least.
- Kirby Smart. If I had to guess, this is the hire that would please the fan base the most, but it’s hard to see how this happens without a bunch of people taking a deep breath before taking the plunge. There are some burned bridges after what happened the last go ’round. And after watching Alabama’s defense flounder against HUNH offenses as much as Georgia’s did in 2013, I’m not so sure this is the slam dunk that those arguing in favor of it believe it to be. Still, if the rumors are true about Orgeron coming to Tuscaloosa, I wonder if Smart might see the Georgia job as an opportunity to really be in control of the defensive staff and a step up. It would admittedly be nice to see his recruiting talents come to Athens. But I question whether McGarity is up to the salary requirements (not to mention what he’d likely have to do for Bobo, as well).
- The rest of the field. There are plenty of good choices out there. Richt’s not close-minded about hiring, as indicated by the process last time. But you wonder what he might have to promise these days to get a slam dunk hire. I guess we’re about to find out how good Georgia is in attracting top flight coaching talent in the new world of exploding assistant salaries.
UPDATE: Seth Emerson’s analysis is worth a read. Particularly this:
Did Richt let Grantham leave? It’s probably comparable to when Rodney Garner left after last season: Both were welcome back. But when they had a better offer, Richt (and Greg McGarity) said, essentially: Good luck to ya.
By comparison, if Mike Bobo had come to his bosses with a $1 million offer to run another team’s offense, the bet here is Richt and company would have fought to keep him.
UPDATE #2: Chip Towers sheds some light on a question I thought would remain murky.
So now we’re left with the chicken-and-the-egg question. Is this something that Richt initiated or is it something that just happened? There’s evidence on both sides of the equation.
Consider the timeline:
- Richt meets with AD Greg McGarity for his end-of-year review on Thursday morning.
- Thursday evening, UGA announces the resignation of Lakatos.
- On Saturday, Grantham informs McGarity that Bobby Petrino wants to talk to him about Louisville’s defensive coordinator position.
- On Sunday, news breaks that Grantham has accepted the Cardinals $5 million offer.
Here’s what I think: I believe the Lakatos resignation was going to happen anyway. There is some validity to the “personal reasons” the fourth-year assistant cited and clearly the Bulldogs needed to address the shortcomings at that position.
As for Grantham, I happen to know that he had no plans whatsoever to leave Georgia as of Friday night. Louisville swooped in fast-and-furious on Saturday. But the Cardinals’ lucrative offer left the Bulldogs no choice. [Emphasis added.]