Athens — Georgia coach Mark Richt said today that he is devoting “due diligence” to the “very important” search for a new defensive coordinator –- a process that he said might not be completed until the new year.
“I think I’ll know when the time is right,” he said.
Richt would not disclose or discuss specific candidates — “I can’t do that,” he said — and he gave no indication that a resolution is imminent.
“I would say the safest bet – and I don’t want to put a timetable on it – [is that] I’d hate to think it goes much past the first week of January,” said Richt, citing recruiting factors. “Even then I’m not going to say 100 percent because I’m not 100 percent sure when it will happen.”
Asked if the hire could be made earlier –- say, before Georgia’s Dec. 28 Independence Bowl game against Texas A&M –- Richt said: “I just don’t know. . . It’s just so hard to predict.”
Georgia’s staff has had three openings since Dec. 2, when Richt fired defensive coordinator Willie Martinez, linebackers coach John Jancek and defensive ends coach Jon Fabris. Richt plans to hire a coordinator first and then get that person’s input on filling the two other positions.
Richt said today that he has not yet offered the job to anyone.
Virginia Tech’s highly respected defensive coordinator, Bud Foster, said Monday that he was approached by Georgia but took himself out of the running by accepting a lucrative new deal with the Hokies. Another candidate believed to be on Richt’s radar, Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, has said he’s “not looking to go anywhere.” Numerous others are rumored to be in the mix from both the NFL and college levels.
Richt said he is not seeking a particular philosophy in the new coordinator.
“I’m open to championship-level defense, really,” Richt said. “I’m not going to say I will not consider this scheme or that scheme or I have to have this scheme or that scheme. I won’t do that, because there are different ways to skin it. And if you are really good at skinning it the way you do it, that’s OK with me.”
This is an unsettling time for Georgia’s defensive players, who eagerly await word on who their new coaches will be.
“Very curious,” said junior linebacker Rennie Curran, who faces a Jan. 15 deadline for deciding whether to enter the NFL draft. “For a lot of us, it’s going to mean a lot, as far as how we fit into this new scheme and what feel we get for the new coaches. It’s everything to us. . . . It’s kind of an awkward time.”
Said sophomore cornerback Brandon Boykin: “Everybody wants to know who it will be, but I know they’re going to have to take their time with the process and make sure it’s the right person. So I’m going to be patient.”
A few more things:
– With final exams completed, Georgia returned to the practice field Wednesday. The Bulldogs will practice daily in Athens through Dec. 22, then reconvene in Shreveport on Dec. 24.
– Wide receiver A.J. Green, who missed the final 2 ½ games of the regular season with a separated shoulder, said he’ll definitely play in the Independence Bowl. “I’ll be 100 percent,” he said. He dove for a ball at practice Wednesday “and didn’t feel anything,” he said. “Ron ran over there,” he added, meaning trainer Ron Courson, “and I said, ‘Yeah, I’m good.’”
– Richt confirmed coaches have talked to backup quarterback Logan Gray about a possible position switch but said no decision has been made. “Logan is the one who is going to decide what he wants to do this spring,” Richt said. “If he wants to stay strictly at quarterback and compete in that area, I’m all for it. If he wants to try another position to see if he could get more playing time, I’m fine with that.”