(Updated below with Al Groh confirming hiring.)
(Update II: For what it’s worth, Tech has finally confirmed the hiring, hours after the original story broke. I’ve copied and pasted the release below.)
At long last, our defensive coordinator nightmare may be over.
ESPN is reporting that after a long dance, Georgia Tech has signed defensive coordinator Al Groh to be its next defensive coordinator. Assuming the report is accurate, we should have confirmation fairly soon. But so far there has been no announcement from Tech.
This comes on the heels of a report that Georgia has come to terms with Dallas Cowboys defensive line coach Todd Grantham to be its defensive coordinator. The Bulldogs are in a little different situation than the Yellow Jackets because the Cowboys are in the playoffs and may not want to create a distraction before their game against Minnesota.
Groh’s hiring would be a huge boost for Tech. While he was not successful in his tenure as a head coach at Virginia, he has long been recognized as one of the better defensive coaches in football, at both the NFL and college level. Most of his background as a coordinator is in the pros (Giants, Jets, Patriots, pros) and in the past few days he has been pondering job vacancies with Miami and New England.
But Groh, obviously familiar with the Georgia Tech program from his years in the ACC, is said to be enamored of the job Paul Johnson has done with the team in a short of amount of time. Adding a respectable defense to an offense that generally produces several t0uchdowns per game should be a boost.
It was not known whether Groh would want to return to being a college assistant at this stage of his career. But money was not going to be a factor because he is scheduled to earn over $4 million the next two years from his remaining time on his Virginia contract.
We’ll be back later with more details. Just wanted to get this post up.
UPDATE: Groh has confirmed the hiring. Tech still hasn’t announced a news conference but here’s an excerpt from an Associated Press story.
The former Virginia coach told The Associated Press on Friday that he set out several criteria before deciding where he wanted to coach in 2010, and Georgia Tech meets them. The top priority was taking a job where there’s a chance to win championships.
The Yellow Jackets are coming off their first outright ACC title since 1990 and played in the Orange Bowl. But they struggled on defense, firing coordinator Dave Wommack shortly after the season.
UPDATE II: Here’s excerpts of Georgia Tech’s press release:
ATLANTA – Al Groh, a veteran coach on the college and NFL level, has agreed in principle to become Georgia Tech’s defensive coordinator, Yellow Jacket head coach Paul Johnson confirmed Friday morning.
Groh plans to sign a contract when he arrives on the Georgia Tech campus next week.
Johnson also announced Friday morning that Lamar Owens, a graduate assistant coach at Georgia Tech the last two years and a former quarterback at Navy, was named assistant coach in charge of the A-Backs.
Groh replaces Dave Wommack, who left Tech after two years as defensive coordinator. Owens takes over for Jeff Monken, who resigned to become the head coach at Georgia Southern.
Groh comes to Georgia Tech after serving nine years as head coach at Virginia, where he compiled a 59-53 overall record. He led the Cavaliers to bowl appearances in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007.
The Yellow Jackets now have on staff the ACC Coach of the Year the last three seasons. Groh was ACC Coach of the Year in 2002 and 2007. Johnson won the award in 2008 and 2009.
“I think any time you can get a coach the caliber of an Al Groh, it is a tremendous plus for your program,” Johnson said. “Al has a great deal of expertise. He is considered one of the top defensive minds in the country and has a record to support it.”
Prior to coaching at Virginia, Groh served one season (2000) as head coach of the New York Jets, compiling a 9-7 record. From 1989 until 1999, Groh served in a variety of assistant-coaching roles with the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots and the Jets. He was defensive coordinator for the Giants in 1991 and defensive coordinator for the Patriots from 1993-96.
Groh lived in Atlanta in 1987, serving as the Atlanta Falcons’ special teams and tight ends coach.
From 1981-86, Groh was head coach at Wake Forest, where he compiled a record of 26-40 in six seasons.
“I am extremely flattered to be invited by Paul Johnson to be part of what he is building at Georgia Tech,” Groh said. “He has already built an awful lot, and I appreciate his confidence that I can play a role in continuing to make Georgia Tech one of the elite programs in college football.”