Posted: 8:35 pm Sunday, January 12th, 2014
By Jeff Schultz
So is this is where Georgia fans give thanks to … Bobby Petrino?
Less than a week after Louisville made the stunning decision to rehire Petrino as its head football coach, it was Petrino’s turn to make a surprising hire: He lured Georgia’s Todd Grantham as his defensive coordinator — although “lured” might suggest Bulldog officials grabbed Grantham by the ankles and were dragged across the room as they pleaded for him not to leave, which might not be the case.
I’ll have more on this somewhat amusing development in the Dogs’ offseason in a full column on Monday. Until then, here are some quick thoughts:
• 1. Grantham stunk: His biggest fans’ seemed to be the people who loved the fact he “looked” like a great catch because, you know, he yelled at lot. This isn’t to suggest Grantham doesn’t know anything about football. I’m assuming anybody who coaches a sport for 24 years at the major college and NFL level must know something. But he wasn’t very good as a defensive coordinator at Georgia. He often had tremendous talent to work with – particularly in 2012, when the Dogs’ defense included seven future NFL draft picks, including four in the first three rounds – but the end result was underwhelming. This season, with a younger cast of players, Georgia ranked eighth in total defense in the SEC and 10th in pass defense.
• 2. Blame game: Grantham never seemed to take blame. More often than not, it was a player who did something wrong, he said. Look, that may or may not have been the case. But offensive coordinator Mike Bobo usually fell on the sword after games, and in most cases he didn’t have anything to apologize for because the Dogs’ offense was usually just fine.
• 3. He’s a climber: He’s a climber. Grantham is not unique in this area. Almost every assistant coach is looking to move up the ranks. But with Grantham and/or his rumor-planting agent, it was overt. It was as if Grantham had one eye on the field and the other on his next potential job. Personally, I also believe he’s best suited for an NFL position coaching job, where he wanted to get back to as a coordinator. He was an NFL position coach for eight of his previous 11 seasons before coming to Athens (the other three as a coordinator of the Cleveland Browns). It’s not surprising Grantham jumped at Louisville’s reported five-year contract offer because he had only two seasons left at Georgia and he wasn’t going to get an extension, based on his performance.
• 4. Petrino+Grantham=Boom? This should be amusing: The combustible Petrino and Grantham under one roof. Let’s see how long this lasts — and how long before Grantham, given Petrino’s history of wearing out assistants, wants out.
• 5. Plusses and minuses: Grantham’s hiring gives Petrino a high profile assistant familiar with the recruiting territory. So I get that part of it. But Georgia will be fine. The way I look at it, the Dogs can’t go backward with the next hire, regardless of who it is. It’s also important to realize that every time a major coaching change is made – recent examples: Texas, Penn State, Michigan, Vanderbilt, Louisville – existing assistant coaches become free agents. I’m sure there are a number of qualified candidates out there. Georgia Tech certainly did well with Ted Roof.
I’ll have more on this tomorrow.
What are your initial thoughts on Grantham’s departure?
About the Author
Jeff Schultz has worked at newspapers in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Atlanta. He has been with the Atlanta-Journal-Constitution since 1989. He has been honored several times by the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE), National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (NSSA) and several other organizations. He also likes puppies, rock and roll and anything with cheese on it.