The question: Did UGA or Tech make the better hire?

"I got my guy," PJ says to CMR, and vice versa. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

"I got my guy," Johnson says to Richt, and vice versa. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

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?)

Who's the better hire?

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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.

846 comments Add your comment

Dawg Fud

January 15th, 2010
11:06 am

we’re really going to debate this?

New England Jacket

January 15th, 2010
11:07 am

I’ll be happy if we beat UGA

Lakeland Dawg

January 15th, 2010
11:07 am

First: Finally we have our man to get defense back on track

Dawg Fud

January 15th, 2010
11:08 am

Groh is probably a bigger splash because of his achievements but i am happy with Grantham.

good work by both programs.

Lakeland Dawg

January 15th, 2010
11:08 am

Oh well third!!

Dawgman

January 15th, 2010
11:09 am

UGA went after those coaches who already have a job and Tech went to one who was recenlty fired from his job so its no wonder their process was smoother! Seriously is this worthy of even a mention? As far as the main topic who will happier that will be determined on the field. Go Dawgs!

KC in Athens

January 15th, 2010
11:10 am

Georgia got the much better hire here, while Tech pulls another ol’ ball coach out of retirement. With Garner as primary coordinator and Grantham as coach, I think Georgia got the best coach that was available.

toga

January 15th, 2010
11:10 am

Good hire Tech! Grantham is a BIG question mark.

exNFLplayer

January 15th, 2010
11:12 am

Mark, could it be that all the stars lined up for Tech with the timing of the Wommack and Groh firings? With the financial constraints that Tech would have had to deal with had Groh not taken the job maybe it would not have been quite so smooth. But Tech got a good guy the way things worked out.

Ashley

January 15th, 2010
11:12 am

No way of knowing until we see some results on the field. But I guess you can’t write that every time you have a column due.

I predict both fanbases will whine if their defenses do poorly, and celebrate their coaches’ genius if they do well. In either case, bulldogs will remain inbred and unable to clean their own rear ends without assistance.

dawg26

January 15th, 2010
11:12 am

Grantham for sure. If saban wanted him, he can’t be bad!

nickj0321

January 15th, 2010
11:12 am

GT got the best guy, there is no comparison.

KC in Athens

January 15th, 2010
11:12 am

New England Jacket, I think you’ve got a shot in women’s soccer.

AndyC

January 15th, 2010
11:13 am

Mark

I think we will be arguing about South Carolina. I still can’t believe you are serious about what you are saying about SC. Please tell me you were joking!

Blindog

January 15th, 2010
11:13 am

Great hire!!! Five-star recruits will be begging to play for this guy,because he can tell them”this is how it’s done at the next level”!

Tron Carter

January 15th, 2010
11:13 am

Dave Groh???

BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

Just someone else for us to run over Tech Dorks.

A better question

January 15th, 2010
11:13 am

An even better question is whether or not the AJC should get rid of Mark Bradley and hire a talented and professional sports columnist to take his place.

gkmlaw

January 15th, 2010
11:13 am

MB. . .you’re a moron! Your criticism of how CMR did his search is unfounded. Let’s see, CMR goes after some of the biggest DC in the business and while he did not get any of them, none of them left their current jobs. All of the DC targets stayed with their teams; how can you be critical of that? GT, on the other hand, goes out and hires a guy who just got canned. So, say what you will but I think CMR did just fine and we will continue to drub the jackets year in and year out! GO DAWGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tailback U

January 15th, 2010
11:14 am

Finally !!! Hallelujah !!!

Tron Carter

January 15th, 2010
11:14 am

Tech must have offered him alot of hotdogs and cokes.

He is a loser.

We will humiliate him next year as we trample his defense.

I am laughing almost as much as when I drive by your stadium.

Dawg Fan in Grayson

January 15th, 2010
11:14 am

Grantham is a great hire..just ask Saban..he tried to hire him as his DC while at Miami and rumored to have contacted him when it look like Smart was heading to UGA. It will be interesting to see what Grantham and Groh will do with their staff. I think Groh inherits what Wommack had and Grantham will be able to pretty much pick his.

devildawg

January 15th, 2010
11:15 am

Had, UGA landed Kirby, Grantham would be DC at Bama right now. Had Tech not gotten Groh, he would be doing Ensure commercials and watching Golden Girls reruns. Hmmmmm……

reebok

January 15th, 2010
11:15 am

good hires by both programs. groh will be 2 years and gone, but that’s OK, tech will have his replacement groomed by then. and for everybody ripping on Groh’s recent issues at Virginia, plz remember that was as Head Coach, not DC. I just hope Tech has the personnel to play a 3-4!

Hey Dogtards

January 15th, 2010
11:15 am

Definitely GT.

In Grantham uga hired a great Defensive Line coach and failed Defensive Coordinator Coach for the Defensive Coordinator position. Grantham’s last season in Cleveland netted him 25th against the pass, 27th against the run, and 30th in total-yards-against among 32 teams. That’s pathetic, and that’s why he was fired.

In Groh, GT hired a great defensive mind, but failed head coach. He made it to the Super Bowl as a DC. He’s also a proven recruiter.

Plus GT already has something uga does not – an immovable 6′7″, 341 lb TJ Barnes playing Nose Tackle.

There’s a reason Groh was contacted for an NFL Defensive Coordinator job days ago, and Todd Grantham, even after 20 years in the business, is still a Defensive Line coach. Groh has been a head coach/coordinator for more years than Grantham has even been coaching.

KC in Athens

January 15th, 2010
11:16 am

I’ll say this for Tech’s coaching staff, those old men are up at 4 a.m. to meet at the Country Kitchen Cafe every morning before work, and getting seniors discounts for everything they buy.

Silver Classic

January 15th, 2010
11:16 am

You report that Groh was Johnson’s choice from the start. While I can accept that, it’s easier to go for someone who is unemployed, it doesn’t seem that Groh was looking at GT as his first choice. He had to wait until he was turned down by Miami and New England before he accepted the fall back position.

Tron Carter

January 15th, 2010
11:16 am

Dave BBBBBWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAHHAAAAAAAAGrohBBBBBBBBBBBWWWWWWWWWWWWAAA
This must be a joke.

BBBBBBBBBBBBBWWWWWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAA

nickj0321

January 15th, 2010
11:16 am

groh was in the running for a couple of NFL jobs…he learned from Parcells…it i sobvious (as always) that you UGA fans are ignorant…but its what we have to come to expect

Eddie Merckx

January 15th, 2010
11:17 am

KC, better yet Mark will Garner stay on. He coaches DL, Grantham coaches DL… Could be a problem…

D(r)ooley

January 15th, 2010
11:17 am

Welcome to UGA Mr. Grantham! Fifth…………probably tenth choice but you are here now. Let me be the first to introduce you to your new daddy, The Florida Gators. 41-17

huh?

January 15th, 2010
11:17 am

Mark, you are such a UGA homer !
(Thought you might like that)

Brunswick-Tech

January 15th, 2010
11:17 am

looks like a pissin contest….I check back later for some news.

RAMBLE ON!!!

January 15th, 2010
11:17 am

Tron Carter, you are a douche bag…Dave Groh?

do you mean Dave Grohl of the foo fighters? Why yes, even you’re fleabags could run over him.

GT easly made the best hire.

Tron Carter

January 15th, 2010
11:17 am

All I expect is continued domination

60-39-5

The Other St. Simons

January 15th, 2010
11:17 am

Al Groh is so old he farts dust.

Ozzy

January 15th, 2010
11:18 am

Lame.

C’mon man.

Why don’t you just put up one of those vote boxes?

Which team is your favorite? Vote A.Tech. Vote B. Georgia.

Grant

January 15th, 2010
11:19 am

If Groh can stop UGA from running for 500 yrds on Yech they way we did this past year I’m sure the nerds will be happy about that, but I don’t see it happening.

Mark Bradley

January 15th, 2010
11:19 am

I can’t imagine Rodney Garner won’t stay. But I couldn’t imagine Lane Kiffin leaving Tennessee, either.

Boise Dawg

January 15th, 2010
11:19 am

Who the heck knows… lets see in about 2 – 3 years when both coaches have had time to build a defense. I am excited about UGA’s hire… from all accounts Grantham seems to have a lot of good experience and as good as the Dallas defense has looked this year, we could have done much worse.

Groh should be a good hire too, but I’d be concerned about his lack of success at Virginia and whether he can recruit good athletes on defense.

nickj0321

January 15th, 2010
11:20 am

Grant – 500 yards, really? UGA Fan Motto : “Ignorance is Bliss”

Tron Carter

January 15th, 2010
11:20 am

It was a joke douchenozzle
Go back to your dungeons and dragons game

Hilarious

January 15th, 2010
11:20 am

Talk it up Dawg fans and try to convince yourself that grantham was a great hire…Richt next option was going to be the coach of Chamblee Middle School.

MR

January 15th, 2010
11:20 am

God Bradley, you are one scumbag. Both schools are happy with their hires and you want to compare who got the best deal. what a crock!! You really know how to push the buttons of the idiot fringe of both programs. Nothing intellegent about how you write those articles.

Mark Bradley

January 15th, 2010
11:21 am

We could wait and talk about it three years from now, but where’s the fun in that?

GT Supporter

January 15th, 2010
11:21 am

Great hire for Tech. Should help with recruiting some strong LBs which is needed. Understands academic challenges of student athlete, coming from UVa. Those referring to Groh’s firing don’t know the facts and history about the UVa situation. Groh is a good fit for Tech. Grantham is an unknown. Could be great hire, could be a bust, need to see… .

exNFLplayer

January 15th, 2010
11:21 am

What I find most interesting today is the fact that David Cutclife turned down Tennessee.

The Other St. Simons

January 15th, 2010
11:22 am

Groh goes on the recruiting trail in a covered wagon. 2 star recruits will love him.

Big time?? Not

January 15th, 2010
11:22 am

Four ticktes, four hot dogs, four cokes.

I think players will be much happier learning under a young up and comer with recent NFL experience rather than an old has been

wow

January 15th, 2010
11:22 am

And then there is the issues in Haiti. Put it in perspective folks..wow

Big time?? Not

January 15th, 2010
11:22 am