Georgia, Tech send right message with Groh, Grantham hires

This is Al Groh. (AP photo)

Al Groh didn't always win at Virginia, but his prowess as a defensive coach can't be questioned. (AP photo)

One coach needed to fix his team’s defense to keep moving forward. The other coach needed to fix his team’s defense to stop sliding backward.

Our obsession with college football in the South and 24/7 blogging speaks to why relatively trivial matters like these have dominated the sports landscape for the past several weeks. But if you’re a college football fan in these parts, regardless of your allegiances, this is a day to feel good about your team.

Georgia and Georgia Tech fans seldom agree on everything. Or anything. But all fans have the same desires: 1) They want to know that their team has a chance to win; 2) They want to know their teams care about winning as much as they do. Mark Richt and Paul Johnson reaffirmed that Friday.

At Georgia Tech, Johnson just hired one of

This is Todd Grantham. (Dallas Morning News.)

Todd Grantham has worked for three of the best coaches in college: Frank Beamer, Bud Foster and Nick Saban. (Dallas Morning News photo)

the best defensive coaches in the game in Al Groh. As a head coach at Virginia, Groh was average (59-53). As a defensive assistant, he is well above that. He has long been respected in both college and the NFL, earning trust from the likes of Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick.

At Georgia, Mark Richt just hired one of the game’s rising young assistants in Todd Grantham of  the Dallas Cowboys. Grantham wasn’t Richt’s first choice, as we all know. But it wasn’t long ago that Brian VanGorder was some obscurity from Western Illinois, via Central Michigan, via Central Florida, via Wayne State. It’s not about winning the press conference, especially when the likes of Nick Saban and Bud Foster are singing your praises..

College football has changed. It has long been a passion around here — it just wasn’t always this all-consuming. But now Johnson feels compelled to change coordinators (Dave Wommack) after two successful seasons and Richt fires a close friend (Willie Martinez) after a significant two-year slide. The debate of whether too much is made of this aside, at least know that two programs took a significant step in the right direction.

“I’ve said it before, it’s a bottom line business,” Johnson said Friday. And then  he admitted that his concerns about the Jackets’ defense was taking up too much of his time during the season, that he was being, “spread too thin.”

“I don’t think it was all [the fault of] Dave,” Johnson said. “We had injuries. We had personnel shortages. But the bottom line is it just wasn’t working. To get to where I want to be, it needs to work.”

Asked if he could have foreseen an early staff change 10 or 15 years ago, when the mandate to win wasn’t nearly so emphatic, Johnson said: “I’m not sure it wouldn’t have happened 10 or 15 years ago — it just wouldn’t have been as big a deal. Nobody would’ve known about it because nobody knew who the coordinators were. The whole thing has changed. I like Dave and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. But if you’re in charge of the program and some facet of it is not working, it’s your job to make it work.

“The definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again and getting the same result. The results weren’t what we desire. In my mind, there was long enough to see a pattern where I felt like we needed to change.”

Richt was slower to see the light on Martinez. The Bulldogs never were as aggressive under Martinez as under VanGorder. But it was only after the disappointments of the last two seasons that Richt made the move. He shot early with three early, hard-to-get picks – Virginia Tech’s Foster, LSU’s John Chavis, Alabama’s Kirby Smart – and it backfired when all three only leveraged the offers to get raises at their existing jobs.

But after a protracted six-week search filled with far too many headaches, Richt may have landed the right guy in Grantham. He played for Beamer and Foster, then coached under them for six years and Saban for three (at Michigan State). There’s a certain thing about osmosis with assistant coaches, and Richt is counting on Grantham to bring that to Athens.

“At Georgia we say, ‘g-a-t-a’ – get after their you-know-what,” Richt said. “I know it will be a sound system, an aggressive system, and a bunch of boys are going to be excited about turning that thing loose.”

The job search, Richt conceded, “took a little while.” He said he was “very prayerful that in the end we would get the right man for the job.”

By all indications, both he and Johnson did. Message sent.

290 comments Add your comment

Wait Until You See Grantham's Staff

January 15th, 2010
6:15 pm

Wait until you see the kinds of guys Grantham brings with him. Packed CB Coach, Saints assistant Travis Jones, so many possibilities. Should be an ALL-STAR defense once it’s all filled out.

I pity the teams that will play Georgia in 2010. Gonna be a massacre, especially Gators, and Bama.

Richt gonna focus on offense and destroy these clowns. Richt as OC for FSU–5 Natl Champ games.

It’s ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

good for tech

January 15th, 2010
6:17 pm

jeff: has anyone heard who the backup guy was for PJ if groh went back to the NFL? PJ said he had someone in mind/ready to take the job if groh didn’t. thanks

Asheville Dawg

January 15th, 2010
6:18 pm

Asheville Dawg

January 15th, 2010
6:18 pm

Asheville Dawg

January 15th, 2010
6:22 pm

If you want to see some funny blogs, take in the knoxnews.com. They are going apsh-t over the Derek Dooley hiring. Oh, and Vol fans are upset they got turned down by Duke’s coach.

Asheville Dawg

January 15th, 2010
6:23 pm

couldn’t happen to a better bunch of cheaters and criminals

Stuck inside of Pullman with the Georgia blues again

January 15th, 2010
6:24 pm

Well said. I think both schools made good hires. Think UGA will run the 3 – 4 next year?

Dawg1970

January 15th, 2010
6:27 pm

Look for UGA to put on an all out blitz in recruiting now. There are some UT de-commits available. And speaking of UT, was D Dooley a surprise to anyone else? He just jumped into a real forest fire>

The Other Saint Simons

January 15th, 2010
6:28 pm

Yes…Without a doubt! UGA will be 3-4 after their first 7 games.

Dawg1970

January 15th, 2010
6:31 pm

I think we will have the personnel to make the 3-4 work.

northeastjacket

January 15th, 2010
6:32 pm

Glad this is over for both schools. Will be interesting to see what happens in the next few weeks with Tech recruiting…open scholarships and a new scheme…anyone have any news on this front?

I think when the Vols sober up they will like the Dooley hire. I feel bad for them but think this will be better in the long run.

whiskey bottle

January 15th, 2010
6:34 pm

good hire by both teams…..however Richt made a huge mistake by not offering bud foster 750,000 in the first place…there’s no way he would of stayed at VT, thank you Mark anyways Tech really didn’t want to see him at UGA

Stuck inside of Pullman with the Georgia blues again

January 15th, 2010
6:39 pm

Going by Scout.com’s evaluation of a couple of our recruits for this year (assuming we can hold onto them!), our lone DT, Garrison Smith, seems like a perfect fit for a NT in a 3 – 4. Also, if we wanted to go the hybrid 3 – 4 / 4 – 3 route, T.J. Stripling would do wonders as a pass-rush DE / coverage OLB in that hybrid position.

Can’t wait until next year!

Acc football

January 15th, 2010
6:40 pm

hy? Tech is scared of nothing georgia brings to the table…

Acc football

January 15th, 2010
6:41 pm

doggit

January 15th, 2010
6:41 pm

didn’t the coach that needs to fix his team just beat the coach that needed to fix his defense? Your growing old quickly Jeff

TMAC

January 15th, 2010
6:54 pm

hey lay off the whiskey, bottle. Georgia Tech ran all over Foster’s team this year…. get a life pal.

Willie Martinez

January 15th, 2010
6:57 pm

{{{{{{{{{{ Bud Foster }}}}}}}}}}
{{{{{{{{{{ John Chavis }}}}}}}}}}
{{{{{{{{{{ Kirby Smart }}}}}}}}}}

Willie the Martinez

January 15th, 2010
6:59 pm

{{{{{{{{{ Bud Foster }}}}}}}}
{{{{{{{{{ John Chavis }}}}}}}}
{{{{{{{{{ Kirby Smart }}}}}}}}

Marsha

January 15th, 2010
7:02 pm

“I pity the teams that will play Georgia in 2010.”

So do I. If they don’t get mugged or run over by the felon-players, the UGA felon-fans will get them. :-)

michael

January 15th, 2010
7:08 pm

marsha what a loser you probably are mad because no one wants to run over you

collegeballfan

January 15th, 2010
7:10 pm

Yeah both hires are solid. Both are good hires for the team that hired them. Johnson needs to turn the defense over to someone & concentrate on offense. In Groh he has his man. Does Tech have the people for a
3-4? It will be an interesting spring practice.

Richt needs to get the opposing team off the field so his running game can dominate the clock. I believe Richt learned the last 3 games that you run the football to win. Grantham will get the opposing team off the field, that’s what Dallas does this year.

Eat It St. Simons

January 15th, 2010
7:13 pm

((((30-24)))) hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Asheville Dawg

January 15th, 2010
7:14 pm

Grantham seems to be a good choice, if the Cowboys defense is any indication. Groh seems to be a two year fix til he retires.

Good Hire Mark

January 15th, 2010
7:16 pm

Regardless of if you are a Tech or UGA fan, I think that each team got the best person for their program RIGHT NOW. I do not see Groh staying at Tech for more than 3 years and, if Grantham has the success I hope he has, Look for him to potentially be looking at a HC position around that same time.

Wait Until You See Grantham's Staff

January 15th, 2010
7:18 pm

Grantham’s staff might fill out with guys like Packers DB Coach, Whitt Jr. amd Saints DL coach Travis Jones. There’s also Tucker, with the Jags right now.

3-4 No Problem for Georgia

January 15th, 2010
7:20 pm

We have at least 2 possibilities for the Noseguy:
1) Geathers, 6′ 5”, 300+ lbs (already on board)
2) Whittaker, 6′4”, 300 lbs (Georgia was already in the mix–now has to be a solid #1)

david

January 15th, 2010
7:24 pm

Marsha–are you still hot like you were 30 years ago–How is Cindy?

Russ, the Temporary Mascot

January 15th, 2010
7:26 pm

“At Georgia we say, ‘g-a-t-a’ – get after their you-know-what,” Richt said. “I know it will be a sound system, an aggressive system, and a bunch of boys are going to be excited about turning that thing loose.”

g-a-t-a? I knew it! Well, they got after my a$$ and now they are going to pay.

Russ, the Temporary Mascot

January 15th, 2010
7:27 pm

Coach Richt as much as admitted painting my a$$. Can he spell l-a-w-s-o-o-t?

reebok

January 15th, 2010
7:29 pm

GT and UGA will both be very good in 2 years. Next year, I’m not so sure about. GT didn’t graduate many guys, but we lost 4 very good Juniors to the NFL. UGA will have a new QB and DC, and will the same old discipline problems still be there? Anyway, I am very pleased w/ GT’s hiring of Groh and I think UGA got a rising star in their new DC. Good luck to all…

Joe Whitt Jr Bio, Packers DB Coach

January 15th, 2010
7:30 pm

Love to see this guy in the secondary. Great recruiter. Done a great job with the Packers:

http://www.packers.com/team/coaches/whitt_joe/

Travis Jones Bio, Saints, DL Coach

January 15th, 2010
7:32 pm

Mel Tucker, Bio, Jags DC

January 15th, 2010
7:34 pm

Good friends with Grantham. He would eb a ncie addition. They used to coach together. Currently the Jags DC Coach, could coach DL, DE or Secondary.

http://www.jaguars.com/team/coach.aspx?id=2851

Tokyo jacket

January 15th, 2010
7:46 pm

Great hire by both program. I’m looking forward to College Game Day being held in Athens two days after Thanksgiving. I think that if UGA’s coordinator can motivate those players, UGA has the talent to play with anyone in the country.

On the GT side, I think Groh can do almost the same thing for GT. If he can get Barnes and Lanier up to speed on how to control the line of scrimmage, we should be in good shape. GT doesn’t have the talent on D that UGA does, but we do have the right bodies. With Peters, Barnes, and Walls/Hall on the D-line, it could be a really good line for the D. I think we might even convert Hall to an OLB.

I think both DCs are good for at least one close win this year. How long until September again?

Tokyo jacket

January 15th, 2010
7:51 pm

I’ll say this about our hire of Groh, it does show that GT’s program and it’s perspective is on the rise. Groh essentially turned down Bill Parcells and Bill Bellichick, two NFL Hall of Famers to come to Tech. Regardless of what you have to say about Groh, that is a good sign for GT.

Preston

January 15th, 2010
8:10 pm

CPJ is obviously not looking for someone to stay for the long haul. Is he going to be like every other good coach you guys had and bolt for a better program? I would hate to be a fan of such a program as that. Knowing that every time our coach has an unbelievable season, he’s gone to greener pastures. I personally hope he stays forever with that option junk. It’s going to be fun watching the new and improved UGA D stuff it! Hell, even CWM only lost one game to tech.

Dr. Phil

January 15th, 2010
8:11 pm

I am feeling good about the SEC for a change. Now, if we can only get some west coast school to hire Petrino or get Arkansas to join another conference. I may even like Florida if Meyer stays away.

Jeff Schultz

January 15th, 2010
8:31 pm

Wait Until You See — I’m very interested to see who Grantham brings with him and whether he tried to pry any assistants from the Cowboys.

Jeff Schultz

January 15th, 2010
8:31 pm

Good Tech — I have an idea but I’d rather not post the name without confirmation.

The UGALY Truth

January 15th, 2010
8:32 pm

Preston, as far as GT coaches bolting for better programs….What about UGAG’s coaches bolting for better programs. You know like Ray Goff when he…..Well, that wasn’t such a good example.

How about when Jim Donnan bolted off to….Wait a minute. Come to think of it, I’d hate to be a fan of a school that doesn’t have coaches that are good enough to be wanted by other programs…You know, like YOUR SCHOOL.

Jeff Schultz

January 15th, 2010
8:32 pm

Asheville Dawg — I was going to feel sorry for whomever took that job, given the situation. I especially feel bad for Dooley’s kid.

Jeff Schultz

January 15th, 2010
8:35 pm

Stuck inside of Pullman — yes, Dogs will run a 3-4 base next season. But sometimes that’s overstated. Different down and distance, different formations, etc.

Jeff Schultz

January 15th, 2010
8:35 pm

The Other Saints Simons — That 3-4 line is pretty funny. Wrong, but funny.

SC Jacket

January 15th, 2010
8:36 pm

Groh – Great hire. Can’t wait for next season. Ready to see who steps up to take over for the guys who left for NFL.

Jeff Schultz

January 15th, 2010
8:37 pm

David — Jan wasn’t bad for a season. Marsha carried it through year after year. Cindy — never.

SAINT SIMONS

January 15th, 2010
8:41 pm

Wow, preston on the crackrock! Just like you stuffed it in athens man? Congrats preston, you beat a tech team without it’s starting qb for more than a quarter, had it’s worst game of the year, and yet you barely hung on with tech at your 39 driving for the win!! You want to send bay bay a thank you for that dropped pass for the 1st down on your 28 with 2 to’s left? What an idiot you must be. Tech scored every time in the 2nd half except last time, you really stuffed it. If nesbitt played all 4 quarters dude, you lose. If stafford would have missed a quarter against tech in athens, you guys would have lost by at least 20! Just be happy you had luck on your side. Can’t wait to spank you in athens for 2nd straight time preston!!

You guys are preseason #22, i guess that means you will finish ranked about 50th since ugay never lives up to expectations. 1st time not ranked since 96, man you guys are worldbeaters!!! Top 5 recruiting classes get you shreveports trips i see preston. Kentucky??? Go bump your gums about how you own tech, while i point out (4-2) thats national titles chump!! You got bragging rights this year, but you are a program on the decline at the moment, just look at the polls loser for evidence.

THWG

SC Jacket

January 15th, 2010
8:42 pm

Jeff – 2010 GT and Uga seasons
What are your predictions for W-L?
and
What game for each, do you think will be the toughest?

DILLIGAF

January 15th, 2010
8:46 pm

Jeff Schultz,

Who were you responding to on your 8:31 reply? I looked twice for “Good Tech” on here and couldn’t find him. By your response, I was curious as to what the question was.

Joe

January 15th, 2010
8:54 pm

Jeff,

No offense, but you are an absolute joke – a joke when writing your articles and a joke on the radio. I heard you today and you have no idea what you are talking about with regards to Todd Grantham or the way that Richt has handled this hiring. Todd Grantham is a home run hire and if you knew anything about sports, you’d realize that.