The Georgia Bulldogs and head coach Mark Richt were hoping to keep its staff intact following the 2013, but the situation has changed in the past few days. On Thursday, defensive backs coach Scott Lakatos resigned his position due to personal reasons, a move that seemed destined to be the only headline involving the coaching staff until Sunday, when defensive coordinator Todd Grantham left the program for Louisville.
The impending departure of Todd Grantham, who reportedly agreed to a 5-year, $5 million deal to become Bobby Petrino’s defensive coordinator, was very surprising, as many felt that Coach Richt’s confidence in the longtime NFL assistant coach would result in his return to the team.
While the youth on last year’s team was apparent, Georgia’s defense was a disappointment to even understandable standards, giving up twenty-nine points per game and folding time and time again in big moments. It seemed like a consensus thought that Grantham would be coaching for his job next season, which would have been his fifth as Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator. Instead, the Bulldogs are forced to hire a new defensive coordinator who can hopefully help further develop a defense with a lot of talent but too few big plays to their credit.
Previewing who will replace Lakatos would have been more predictable prior to Grantham’s exit, but the vacancy at defensive coordinator more than likely means the new DC will have some say in filling this position. Here are five coaches who very well could be hired to replace Grantham in Athens.
Kirby Smart, Alabama DC – Mark Richt made a run at the former Georgia defensive back in 2010 before ultimately being turned down, which means that it is very unlikely that Smart says yes this time around. The only option that may bring the thirty-eight year old back to Sanford Stadium would be if Richt can guarantee Smart that he will replace him as head coach once he opts to retire, whether that would be by naming him head coach-in-waiting or something more subtle instead. It looks more and more like Smart stays in Tuscaloosa until Nick Saban decides to step aside, but with Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier leaving earlier in the week to take the same position at Michigan, it sure looks like you can never say never.
Kirk Olivadotti, Georgia LB Coach – An assistant for the Bulldogs since 2011, Olivadotti seems very familiar with this style and the use of the 3-4, which may lead to his promotion to defensive coordinator. A longtime defensive coach for the Washington Redskins, Olivadotti’s promotion would not be very popular considering the way the Bulldogs played last year, but elevating him to the position may guarantee the best stability for Georgia’s defense.
Geoff Collins, Mississippi State DC – A native of Conyers, Georgia, Mississippi State’s defense could not be blamed for the team’s 7-6 record last season, as Collins’ squad was 18th in the nation in yards allowed (349 per game) and produced 25 turnovers, which is ten more than Georgia had. Collins, who just completed his third season in Starkville, may very well choose to take a pay raise and come to Georgia, where he would be reunited with former Miss. State DL coach Chris Wilson.
Charles Kelly, Florida State LB/Special Teams Coach – Kelly, who spent seven seasons at Georgia Tech which included a run as interim defensive coordinator following Al Groh’s firing, is coming off a national championship season in which the Seminoles lead the nation by allowing just 12 points per game and gave up the third fewest yards in all of FBS with just 281 per contest. A key piece of Kelly’s résumé in my opinion in his background with special teams (Phil Steele named him the 2012 Special Teams Coach of the Year), something Georgia has struggled with mightily over the years. Even if Kelly is not able to juggle the task of running the defense and the special teams, his experience with the kicking game would at least give the coaching staff more information to work with.
Manny Diaz, former Texas DC – Georgia fans would not be very excited in adding a coach whose defense gave up 550 yards in a single game (The Longhorns’ 40-21 loss to BYU), but the fact of the matter is Diaz is a young defensive coordinator who sure got the job done last season (Texas was 16th in sacks and 26th in INTs) and made strides in his first season back in 2011. Diaz’s firing did nothing but save Texas head coach Mack Brown a little more time before the boosters and fans ran him out of Austin, and Coach Richt could do much worse than bringing in the thirty-nine year old.
Have another suggestion for Georgia DC? Leave a comment and share who you think replaces Todd Grantham