In sync

Believe it or not, Josh Heupel had a plan.

If Tennessee’s new defensive staff under first-year head football coach Josh Heupel looks like a Mark Richt staff of yesteryear at Georgia, that is not by accident.

Three defensive assistants — line coach Rodney Garner, outside linebackers coach Mike Ekeler and secondary coach Willie Martinez — worked under Richt, who compiled a 145-51 record and won two Southeastern Conference championships and five SEC East titles during his 15 seasons in Athens from 2001-15. Garner and Martinez worked together for the first nine years of Richt’s run, which yielded league crowns in 2002 and 2005 and a No. 2 finish nationally behind LSU in 2007.

Heupel introduced his defensive staff on a Zoom call Monday, and he quickly pointed out that four of his five hires on that side of the ball arrived in Knoxville with previous SEC experience.

“It was a big part,” Heupel said. “As you assemble your 10 assistants collectively and the balance you want to have, having some ties inside this conference and knowing how it operates from the landscape of it was important for me. When you’re bringing in together a group of guys, some familiarity with who they are individually and some connections there make the transition into that meeting room easier and the trust factor is really important.

Richt certainly trusted Martinez until it almost cost him his job.


Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange

18 responses to “In sync

  1. Ran A

    Actually… This is the only thing this guy has done that impressed me since he got there. Hiring 3 Georgia ex-coaches that were part of a team that was beginning to regularly defeat the Vols makes sense. Very little else he has accomplished since being there has. To be fair… I think he tried to do better on the offensive side, but he is having trouble getting people to come there.

    What will be interesting is how many of these kids that are in the portal will now decide to stay. That and the upcoming sanctions that UT is bound to absorb from all of this.

    Still see this guy as an average coach. I think their ceiling is 9 or 10 win seasons, playing for 3rd behind Georgia and UF.


  2. J.R. Clark

    Kevin Ramsey was available. I don’t think he has a buy out clause in his gig as the DC for Mountain Pointe High School in Phoenix, AZ.

    Liked by 3 people

    • godawgs1701

      And Tennessee does have a track record for hiring former UGA assistants who were involved in fistfights during their time in Athens.


  3. armydawg

    Hail the return of “Derek D.”


  4. ASEF

    UT: “We need defensive coaches with SEC experience who can’t demand big buy outs”

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Get WIll Friend too. And Bobo. Get the whole lot of them.


  6. W Cobb Dawg

    Now that Heupel hired Garner & Martinez, he’ll have to watch over them like a hawk. CRG would like nothing more than to return to mailing it in like he did for years under CMR. Martinez has the innate ability to screw up, even with a talented D, which utk won’t have.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Texas Dawg

    Just because you have a plan does not mean it’s a good plan.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Down Island Way

      “Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth”…..or gets behind on the score board by 20 at the half….


  8. Bootleg rollout to the TE. Believe me, if Willie involved, it will be open.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. ericstrattonrushchairmandamngladtomeetyou

    Trusting Willie did cost Richt his job eventually, after Richt used up all his goodwill sticking with Willie when it became apparent that Willie couldn’t cut it as DC.


  10. Dawg19

    (Heupel to Tennessee fans):

    “You think you hate us now…but wait ‘til you watch us.”

    Liked by 2 people