Smith says change won’t disrupt recruiting — updated at 8:30 p.m.

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Giff Smith says he accepted a job with the Buffalo Bills because he believes it improves his resume and will help him one day fulfill his goal of becoming a head coach. It won’t, however, disrupt Georgia Tech’s recruiting.

“Nothing easy about leaving Georgia Tech,” said Smith, who coached at Tech the past six seasons and spent the past four as recruiting coordinator.  “It’s just an opportunity career-wise that we felt as a family was the best thing at this time.”

With Signing Day a week away, many of Tech’s commitments said they are sticking with their decision to sign with the Jackets on Feb. 3.

Defensive tackle Shawn Green of Grayson, whom Smith would have coached in his other role as defensive line coach, said his decision is solid.

“I first heard it from Coach [Paul] Johnson,” Green said. “I was like, ‘For real?’ I was shocked. I didn’t see that coming. I liked Coach Smith. He was a good D-line coach and I wish him the best. But it doesn’t change anything at all. I’m still committed to Georgia Tech. The only thing running through my mind is who is going to be coaching me now?”

Recruits who haven’t committed but are considering Tech say they don’t feel like Smith’s departure is a factor. One of the reasons is that the remaining eight coaches actively recruit. That’s what most have been doing this week as Tech looks to fill the rest of its class. The Yellow Jackets have 16 commitments and may add as many as four more.

Roswell wide receiver Chris Boyd, a longtime commitment to Vanderbilt, said he will be taking an official visit to Georgia Tech this weekend. He is being recruited by wide receivers coach Al “Buzz” Preston.

“Georgia Tech is a special place,” Smith said. “You recruit different types of kids at this school. These kids are intelligent kids. They value the Georgia Tech degree and understand the opportunities it presents later in life.

“Timing is never great, but it was never an issue that I thought it would affect recruiting to any degree. I don’t see any disruptions at all. that’s what makes this place a little bit different than others.”

Johnson made an in-home visit with Loganville offensive tackle Morgan Bailey on Wednesday evening.

Smith’s departure came up in discussion, according to Bailey. “(Johnson) said he was sad to see him go, but he understood and that he was going to get another coach in there to get the job done.”

The 6-foot-5, 298-pound Bailey says he remains loyal to the commitment he made to Georgia Tech last summer, although rival Georgia appears to make a late push. Bailey said Georgia offensive line coach Stacey Searels called last week to measure his interest in the Bulldogs.

“(Searels) said I could come to Georgia and be a real leader for the offensive line over there,” Bailey said. “He said Georgia was going to offer me a scholarship, but I think he is waiting to see how much I’m interested before doing that.”

“I grew up a Georgia fan. I told (Searels) that I appreciated the consideration, but that I have found a home at Georgia Tech. My recruiting is over. I’m a Yellow Jacket, and that’s how it is going to be.”

Bailey said Johnson was pleased to see that he added about 15 pounds of muscle since football season. “He was joking how their left tackle weighed 243 pounds by the end of last season, and I was pushing 300. He said I looked good, and that they weren’t ruling out playing me anywhere along the offensive line — including center, tackle, or guard.”

Smith said he’s waiting to hear from Johnson if he will be helping Tech through signing day. He declined to say if he was interested in Tech’s defensive coordinator job, which was recently filled with the hiring of Al Groh. He also declined to discuss many of the specifics of the job at Buffalo, other than to say he had flown back from there on Wednesday and that he was excited to be reunited with Chan Gailey.

Gailey, who coached Tech from 2002-07, lured Smith from Tulane back home to Atlanta in 2004. Joining  Gailey in Buffalo will mark the second time that Smith will rejoin a former boss. Johnson gave Smith his first full-time job at Georgia Southern in 1996, and kept him on staff at Tech after Gailey was fired. Johnson was out of town and couldn’t be reached for comment on Wednesday.

That familiarity is what Smith said  made the decision so easy to make on one hand: “It’s kind of unique, it makes for a nice comfort level that you know what you’re getting into,” Smith said of Gailey.

And so hard on the other:  “It makes it tough because you respect him so much, and you know what he’s doing here is special,” Smith said of Johnson.

But, in the end, Smith said becoming the outside linebackers coach at Buffalo makes him more marketable, even though it means leaving Atlanta, where he grew up (Mableton) and where his two children were born.

“[I want] Opportunity one day to sit in the big chair and do it the way you want to do it and see if it turns out,” Smith said.

Staff reporters Michael Carvell and Chip Towers contributed to this report.

36 comments Add your comment


January 27th, 2010
3:24 pm

Giff, as you shuffle off to Buffalo, let me wish you well and say that it feels good to be able to cheer for you again. Thanks for the great play at GSC!! Erk would be proud.

Go Jackets!!!

January 27th, 2010
3:32 pm

Good luck with the Bills, Giff. Thanks for all your hard work with the Jackets!

Does it matter?

January 27th, 2010
3:34 pm

Smith leaving doesn’t matter. GT Football is not even on the map. GT football is so lame that no one cares. What kind of HS athlete who has dreams of playing in the NFL go to GT with their 1980’s style option offense? At this rate, CPJ should incorporate the wishbone offense. I heard Tony Rice (ND 1988 QB) is available.

Just remember…. UGA 30 – gt 24!!!!! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

gt football is lame!!!!



January 27th, 2010
3:50 pm

I guess GT football matters enough that you would be the 3 post on a GT blog about a coach going to the nfl. Or maybe its that you you just dont have a life. My guess both.

War Jacket

January 27th, 2010
3:58 pm

Don’t worry too much GT fans. Coaches know a good thing when they see it and CPJ has a good thing going at GT. We wiss Giff all the best, but you wonder just how long Gailey will last in the NFL. Anyway rumor has it that Giff will be replaced by a former head coach coach, that is a fantastic recruiter, a native Atlantan with great Georgia ties and currently coaches in the ACC.

Stay tuned.


January 27th, 2010
4:02 pm

I hope this move to Buffalo works out for him professionally and I wish him and his family all the best.


January 27th, 2010
4:03 pm

You don’t run anything. Except may be a Burger King drive thru.


January 27th, 2010
4:14 pm

Best wishes to Giff, and thanks for all the hard work. Does it matter? Then why post on here?….moron!

dirty bird

January 27th, 2010
4:18 pm

Yeah, what kid would want to go to a school that has 4 juniors leaving early, 3 of which are top 3 prospects at thier position. Oh yeah all this from a high school offense.


January 27th, 2010
4:20 pm

Does It Matter -

How does that Shreveport victory feel brother? LOL


January 27th, 2010
4:25 pm

CPJ keeps making the jackets stronger.


January 27th, 2010
4:26 pm

Good luck Giff. Thanks for all your efforts. Would that potential coach be former Black Watch defender?


January 27th, 2010
4:28 pm

Unlike everyone else apparently, I believe Gailey will be successful at Buffalo.

Cleveland, OH jacket

January 27th, 2010
4:35 pm

Thanks CGS for everything you did at GT. I hope we are able to replace you with at least someone on par with what you brought to GT in both dline and recruits.


January 27th, 2010
4:36 pm

Ain’t dem dawg fans cute when they’re bitter


January 27th, 2010
4:46 pm

Wake me up when a Paul Johnson-led GT offense scores more than 10 points in a bowl game.

Chan Gailey

January 27th, 2010
4:47 pm

Had to bring Giff in – here’s hoping we don’t suffer any 51-7 beatdowns like we got Between the Hedges.


January 27th, 2010
4:49 pm

Who will be the replacement? Good question.

And yes, the dawg fans that continue to post inane comments on the Tech blog just make themselves look more and more like the losers the apparently are. Cute? I’d say pathetic. Keep bringing it.

Giff Smith

January 27th, 2010
4:52 pm

I’m hoping they have Flag Boys in Buffalo as well. I wonder if their poles freeze up there?


January 27th, 2010
4:53 pm

We have set ourselves up nicely for a National Championship run this year…I’m hoping our UGAy neighbors are at least a .500 team so that they don’t hurt our strength of schedule too much. See you nadlickers in November! Lest you forget, CPJ owns Sanford Stadium.

GT Football (aka WeRunThisCountry)

BS Patrol

January 27th, 2010
4:54 pm

That must have been some good offer. Has anyone here been to Buffalo, NY? Ouch! I guess they took him across Niagara into Canada to do some gambling & see some dancing girls. YUM!

Yes it matters

January 27th, 2010
5:01 pm

Yes it does matter, Uga is a school where athleets go to let there fans down. Uga is not even a top tear program and never will be. You are known as the chokers of college football. Everywhere i have gon all i have heard is man uga chokes more then any team i have ever seen. Look say what you wanna say uga fans, fact is you are jealous of gt and we have more national titles then your school does all time. Oh yeah…we have the titles in football not uga. Now tell me who is relevent…GT-4 UGA-1 LMAO (REDNECKS) Next!!!

Yes it matters

January 27th, 2010
5:03 pm


Yes it matters

January 27th, 2010
5:04 pm

Ooops!! There goes dwyer again….TD GT…….((((((((45-42)))))))

The Truth

January 27th, 2010
5:06 pm

GT is for overachievers, UGA is for underachievers. Goes for sports, studies, work, etc. Not true in every case, but is true in general.

Mark Richt

January 27th, 2010
5:07 pm

Man i dont know what we are gonna do about the crappy history here at uga, in the middle of a redneck town (Athens). Man i hope we will have more then a football team like Georgia Tech one day. We are only football, and we choke at that

All Yellow Jackets

January 27th, 2010
5:08 pm

I agree 100% Mark Richt


January 27th, 2010
5:14 pm



January 27th, 2010
5:56 pm

hey does it matter, you suck


January 27th, 2010
6:02 pm

Good Luck coach and God Bless you and your family! Go Jackets!

Tokyo jacket

January 27th, 2010
6:23 pm

Actually, McCollum would be a pretty good pickup, especially as recruiting coordinator. Look at his bio to see how many players that have gone into the League (albeit in supporting roles) he has coached. I wonder if Groh might be talking to someone who can coach the DL right away in the 3-4.

Coach S

January 27th, 2010
8:58 pm

Bailey’s lying. I never said we would offer him. We don’t offer anyone committed to Tech. We aim higher.


January 28th, 2010
12:12 am

Good luck Giff!

Clay Travis of NCAA Football Fanhouse

January 28th, 2010
12:13 am

“Georgia’s continuing decline will be the story of the SEC east in 2010.” Travis predicts another 7-5 regular season for UGA, saying “The Bulldogs are taking on water and they can’t bail out fast enough. Both the offense and defense will be weaker. And even in a weakened SEC east, the Bulldogs will be in trouble.”

chris o bomb

January 28th, 2010
12:26 am

thanks coach smith from recruiting prized and surprising students, and we are looking forward to root for you and coach gailey(yes… we ALL are). Draft one or more of your boys and come back to your roots at TECH or the Falcons soon.

Won't affect recruiting?

January 28th, 2010
10:02 am

The article “Smith says change won’t hurt Tech’s recruiting” is for once truthful. It’s because gt doesn’t recruit good players. They recruit players that big time football programs reject. These “average” players end up going to tech because no ones offers them scholarships.

That’s why Smith says leaving doesn’t hurt recruiting. So go ahead and grab your 1 or 2 star athlete to run that 1980’s throwback option offense.

By the way….UGA 30 – gt 24!!