It’s only been a little less than two days since news broke about Todd Grantham leaving Georgia for Louisville. However, the search for a new defensive coordinator is already in full swing.
Several candidates have been mentioned for the job, and according to Mark Richt, there has been interest from “some very, very outstanding coaches.”
Georgia needs to end up with one of these “outstanding” coaches to get to the next level. It’s no secret that this is Mark Richt’s “legacy hire” which could make or break his future at UGA. Although some constantly question Mike Bobo, there aren’t many problems on that side of the ball.
Let’s take a look at some of the defensive coordinator candidates and the latest information about each.
Kirby Smart – Alabama DC
Smart is the hottest name going around right now, just as he was the last time Mark Richt hired a new DC. He was rumored to have virtually accepted the position at UGA last time before spurning Richt at the last moment and remaining at Alabama.
At that time, Richt was on shaky ground. He’s firmly entrenched as the head coach this time around, so it’s more enticing to come to Athens and resurrect the Junkyard Dawg defense now.
In order to land him, Georgia is likely going to have to offer a multi-year deal worth around $1.5 million per season. In fact, message board rumors claim the offer has already been made. And if you believe even more Internet fodder, Smart was on the UGA campus yesterday.
Nevertheless, Georgia would be crazy not to bring Kirby Smart back to Athens if he’ll come. And with Smart not garnering a ton of interest for a head coaching position at a big name school, he may need to step out of Nick Saban’s shadow to prove himself. Now it seems it could actually happen.
Lot of smoke forming around Kirby Smart at #UGA right now
— Anthony Dasher (@AnthonyDasher1) January 14, 2014
Jeremy Pruitt – Florida State DC
The UGA-FSU coaching connections continue. Pruitt is a hot name now that he has a national championship as a defensive coordinator under his belt. He also won two championships as the secondary coach at Alabama in 2010 and 2012.
Pruitt currently makes between $500,000 and $700,000, but will surely fetch a raise from the Seminoles. Georgia could easily match that and pay even more if they need to.
But the question here is, similar to Smart, why would Pruitt leave Florida State for Georgia? It’s a lateral move at best, and the mere mention of his name may just be to leverage himself for a bigger raise.
Update (1/14/13, 1pm ET)
Looks like Georgia’s focus has turned to Florida State defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, according to several notable writers. It’s starting to look like Kirby Smart has declined a move to UGA.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) January 14, 2014
If #UGA is going to get a Saban disciple as its DC, it's going to have to be Jeremy Pruitt. It's not going to be Kirby Smart
— Mark Schlabach (@Mark_Schlabach) January 14, 2014
Clancy Pendergast – Former USC DC
Most people agree, Pendergast has an impressive resume as a defensive coordinator. Last season at USC, he guided the Trojans to the number one overall ranking in total defense.
Pendergast also has NFL DC experience, serving with Arizona from 2004 through 2008 and Kansas City in 2009. He is currently unemployed after new USC head coach Steve Sarkisian brought his own DC with him from Washington.
David Gibbs – Houston DC
Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com tweeted on Sunday that Georgia contacted David Gibbs about their vacant defensive coordinator position. Gibbs did a fine job last season of turning around a Houston defense that surrendered a ton of points in 2012.
But according to UGASports.com and others, Georgia may have contacted Gibbs about joining the staff as a position coach, perhaps in the secondary.
Other Potential Candidates
- Randy Shannon – Arkansas LB Coach
- Glenn Spencer – Oklahoma State DC
- Gene Chizik – Former Auburn HC
- Chris Wilson – Georgia DL Coach
- Manny Diaz – Former Texas DC
- Pat Narduzzi – Michigan State DC
What do you think Dawg Nation? Do you think we can land Kirby Smart? If not, who do you want as the next UGA defensive coordinator? Let us know in the comments below.