After almost a month and a half, Coach Richt and the Georgia Bulldogs have a new defensive coordinator…Todd Grantham. Fantastic. Grantham is currently the defensive line coach for the Dallas Cowboys. I have never cared for the Cowgirls…and I love the DAWGS and the University of Georgia…so nothing could please me more than to see the Vikings put yet another disappointing end to a season for Tony Romo and his merry band of mates in Jerry World, while at the same time freeing up Georgia’s new defensive coordinator to get to Athens and become immersed in all things DAWG.
We’ll get to what I think of the next era of defense in Athens town in a minute, but a quick recap of the process that got us here is in order first.
I have had and shared my confidence that Coach Richt would do his due diligence and find the man he trusts to direct the defense at Georgia, demanding maximum effort and execution from his players and helping them to play up to and beyond their potential in the pursuit of greatness and championships in the years to come. Although names that are well known by those that follow this game were absolutely involved in this process, I can’t help but think that Coach Richt was simply following through on his plan to cover all his bases before securing his choice. It is no secret that Coach Grantham has been on Richt’s radar from the early stages of this process. As for the others that were believed to have been involved…Bud Foster, John Chavis and Kirby Smart…well all I can offer are my thoughts on each coach.
**Bud Foster – When I first heard this name I had two thoughts…1) Wow, CMR really is aiming high. Foster is widely regarded as a good person and a very strong DC with a proven track record of success. 2) I never thought Foster would be at Georgia. Foster is just a company guy. He if ferociously loyal to Frank Beamer and has been the not-so-secret, though officially un-named head coach in waiting at Virginia Tech for years.
**John Chavis – I was never really high on Chavis coming to Georgia simply because I have never been overly impressed with what I have seen from his teams on the field. The numbers have been very respectable, but his teams have never really passed the eye-ball test for me. I was actually glad to hear that he did not want to come to Athens. Besides, I know it’s a business (as this off-season has rabidly shown thus far), but I know me and I would have a really hard time getting behind Chavis totally. He was just a Volunteer for too long for me to look on him too kindly.
**Kirby Smart – There is no denying that the production of the Alabama defensive unit under the guidance of the former Georgia Bulldog has been outstanding. However, the longer that dance went on between Georgia and Kirby, the more awkward and uncomfortable I felt. At the end, I actually thought that the very best case scenario if Kirby accepted the job would be that Smart would choose Georgia, the stars would align in his second year back in Athens and the DAWGS would win a conference championship (with the possibility of greater championships) and he would be off for good. Everything else would have been viewed as a failure in judgment on Richt’s part or a failure on Smart’s part to produce. To me, it just felt as though the fan’s wanted this hire to happen as much for how it would “feel” or how it would “look” to those not associated with the program as they did based on the on-field production. I actually felt that the program dodged a bullet when Kirby chose to stay in Tuscaloosa. Maybe I’m totally off base here, but that’s how I felt regardless. I did not like the idea that whatever success a Kirby-led DAWGS defensive squad and in turn a Mark Richt led Georgia team, might have would be perceived to be nothing more than some byproduct of the Nick Saban machine. I’ll admit that is an extreme thought process to some degree, but my pride in the University of Georgia is just so great that I would rather any successes achieved not be associated with anyone other than the young men, coaches and faculty members that directly earned them.
And here we are. Coach Richt finally has his guy and there is no doubt that changes will be evident almost immediately upon the arrival of Coach Grantham and the staff he chooses to bring with him. By definition, the 34 defense that Grantham has chosen to employ in the past is an attacking scheme. It demands tenacity and execution from the players and inherently opens up the opportunity for opposing offenses to make big plays. I am not an insider that stalks the halls of the football offices regularly and I do not know Todd Grantham personally. I do not need to. Statements like this one from Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer made during a telephone interview with Ugasports.com recently tell me all I really need to know at this point…
"I think he's outstanding. I think Todd Grantham is the whole package. He's a smart guy, he's tough; when he was here he was always in the office working, doing what he could to help make our defense better. He was always able to get his players to play good, smart, tough football and to play it well."
What's more, Georgia's new DC seems to get it as evidenced by his statements after accepting the position as the top defensive DAWG...
"I'm very excited about being part of a staff that will work tremendously hard to return Georgia football to one of the premier teams in the SEC. To the fans and boosters of the University of Georgia, I understand the passion and standard of excellence expected. I look forward to developing an aggressive, physical, attacking style defense that offenses will not look forward to playing against."
If you have visited us before you may have seen the attributes that I believe a great defense has to have as laid out in my DWO. Coupling the basic philosophies of the 34 defense with the traits that Beamer speaks of when talking about his former player, coach and current friend, well I am very interested and excited to see what type of defense the DAWGS can become in 2010 and beyond. Beyond being the key word in the previous sentence. I am hopeful that Grantham will fully embrace all things Georgia, will be successful and will want to be here for a long time to come. As we start a new decade, if this hire (which is Coach Richt’s most important since his hire of Brian Van Gorder years ago) turns out to be as strong as we all hope it will be, Georgia is poised to stake it’s claim as a premier player once again on the national stage that is big boy college football. Welcome Coach Grantham. Now, GATA! Glory, Glory.