Yesterday neither had a defensive coordinator. Now Georgia has hired Todd Grantham and Tech has landed Al Groh. Even though it’s not a zero-sum game — both programs can and should profit — the confluence of events makes the question fairly irresistible:
Who made the better hire?
We’d have to credit Tech for running the smoother search. (This falls under the heading of “Duh!”) The Jackets dumped Dave Wommack last Friday and landed a new man within eight days, which put Paul Johnson five-plus weeks ahead of Mark Richt. As was reported in this space last week, PJ locked in on Groh from the start.
But process isn’t our concern today. Product is. And the belief here is that Grantham will do more for Georgia than Groh will for Tech.
Understand: Groh is an upgrade. He’s also 65. He served as his own defensive coordinator last season at Virginia, which isn’t the same as working for someone else. He and Johnson are fairly set in their ways. Apparently both feel they can co-exist, but this is a case of two head coaches (one former) on one staff. That doesn’t always pan out.
Grantham comes with some negatives as well. He has never been a collegiate coordinator, hasn’t worked in college since 1998. But the success of his defensive line in Dallas — at the moment, the Cowboys’ front is the most fearsome unit in pro football — suggests he knows what he’s doing, and at 43 he figures to have room to grow. (As opposed, pun intended, to Groh.)
Grantham isn’t the whiz-bang hire that Bud Foster or John Chavis would have been, and he doesn’t come with the Bulldog-comes-marching-home angle that would have attached itself to Kirby Smart. Just having any coordinator in-house will cheer Bulldog Nation, but Grantham isn’t apt to stir the masses the way a big-name college guy would have. (Really, who’d heard of Todd Grantham a month ago?)
That said, Grantham isn’t Willie Martinez, which means he’ll get the benefit of most doubts, and he represents the first real jolt of new coaching energy Georgia has seen since hiring Stacy Searels from LSU. And that’s a good thing. Not to put too fine a point on it, but quality control inside the UGA program had been allowed to slip.
Both Grantham and Groh have potential. Neither is a lock to succeed.Just guessing — and I’m bad at guessing, as you know — I’d say Georgia will be happier with its hire three years from now than will Tech. Which isn’t to say Tech itself won’t be happy.
Heck, at the moment I’d say almost everybody’s happy: The defensive coordinator search was getting on all our nerves. And now we can go back to arguing over something else, something truly important. Namely, recruiting.