Athens – I’m pretty sure Georgia fans are going to love these words from Todd Grantham, the Bulldogs’ new defensive coordinator:
“Over the last 11 years [in the NFL], I have evaluated a lot of players from this state –- not only players of the University of Georgia but players that have played everywhere else, too,” Grantham said today. “And I have always believed -– and I believe to this day – that if we took the best players in the state of Georgia and within a five-hour radius of our school, if they come to the University of Georgia, then we can win the SEC championship and compete for a national title. And I think you can be better than Florida, you can be better than Texas, and you can be better than Southern Cal – if those players came to the University of Georgia. So that’s what excited me about coming here.”
Grantham’s hiring a week ago has been well received by Georgia fans, who probably will like it even more after hearing the intense new guy in town talk about being better than Florida, Texas and USC. . . .
A few other things from today’s session with Grantham:
– Turning down Nick Saban: Yes, Grantham confirmed, he was offered a job in 2005 as the Miami Dolphins’ defensive coordinator by Saban, the noted defensive genius. But Grantham, who previously worked for Saban at Michigan State, turned down the Dolphins’ job to take the defensive-coordinator position with the Cleveland Browns instead. “Basically it got down to a geographical decision, really,” he explained, noting that Cleveland is closer than Miami to his Virginia hometown.
– Evaluating his new players: Grantham said the first step is to study film on them. “Right now what I’ve done is with the two graduate assistants, who I can tell you do a great job; these guys are unbelievable. I’ve had those guys [Todd Hartley and Mitch Doolittle, who famously filled in as coaches when the staff was short-handed for the bowl game] pull off about 25 or 30 plays of each [player]. That kind of gives you a feel for the player. So we’ll look at those and get a feel for each guy.” Soon Grantham will get to know the players in the off-season program, and then he’ll have them on the field in spring practice. “It’s a process that will be ongoing all the way up until next [season], but you got to start somewhere,” he said. “And we’re going to start with the evaluation of what they have done so far.”
– NFL vs. college: Grantham, whose first two coaching jobs were at Virginia Tech and Michigan State, spent the past 11 years in the NFL. He said he went there initially to enhance his future as a college coach. “I always had an aspiration to coach in pro football, and the reason is that it is the graduate school of coaching. It’s the best players, it’s the best systems, and it is the best coaches to a point -– not that there aren’t great coaches in college. But you do get challenged up there. So I looked forward to that challenge. But, really, I wanted to do that to enhance my career in college. I have always had aspirations of being a coordinator and a head coach one day, and I felt like, what better [than the NFL] on your resume when you to into a home [recruiting]? . . . That way when I walk into a home, my resume could speak for where I could help the kid go. And that’s really one of the reasons I went to pro football. Over the past 11 years, there have been some opportunities to come back to college, but the timing was never right and I never felt as strongly as I did about this job.”
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