10 Things: Connections, coaching pedigree led Kirk Olivadotti to Georgia

TEN THINGS ABOUT GEORGIA LINEBACKERS COACH KIRK OLIVADOTTI . . .

ATHENS — The most widely known personal detail about Georgia’s second-year linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti is the incredible battle his daughter Kasyn has waged since being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia shortly after the family’s arrival in Athens last summer.

To be sure, that situation dominates every waking minute of the Olivadotti’s lives. Kasyn, 5, is currently in what they call the “maintenance stage” of treatment. She undergoes chemotherapy at the hospital every 28 days, gets chemo at home once a week and takes numerous pills designed to fight the disease.

Olivadotti

Olivadotti

“She’s doing well,” said Olivadotti, who also has a 3-year-old boy named Kruz. “She’s still being actively treated, but she is going to start kindergarten this year and we’re all excited about that. In between being a cancer patient she’s just a 5-year-old. That ratio is getting ever better, where she gets to be more of a kid and less of a cancer patient.”

Lost in that real-life struggle have been the details about Olivadotti the coach. He recently sat down with the AJC to fill us in a continuation of a series on the Bulldogs’ assistant coaches. Here are 10 things you should know about him:

1. He’s the son of longtime NFL coach Tom Olivadotti.

Olivadotti’s father has had a long and distinguished coaching career, including winning a national championship as defensive coordinator for the Miami Hurricanes and assistant coaching stints with five NFL teams. That usually means a lot of moving around a lot for children of coaches. But Kirk spent the majority of his young life in south Florida graduating from the well-known football powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale.

“I got lucky because I went to the same high school all four years,” Olivadotti said. “My sister went to four high schools. She started in Miami, went to two in Cleveland, then did her senior year in Ft. Lauderdale. So she was all over the place.”

2. He was an elite athlete himself.

Olivadotti was one of the fastest athletes in Florida in high school and was widely recruited as a wide receiver and a sprinter in track. An exceptional student as well, he had scholarship offers from Duke and Georgia Tech in football and from Florida State as a sprinter. But he ended up signing with Purdue, where he became a starter at wide receiver.

I just kind of rounded out the 11,” he said modestly. “I was just kind of a guy who could run fast straight ahead. If you asked me to change directions I looked like I got thrown from a moving vehicle.”

3. College career started with bang.

Olivadotti and his father share the rare distinction of having caught a touchdown on their very first college pass reception. Kirk scored on a long bomb against Wisconsin as a freshman in 1993.

“I took to the house,” Olivadotti said. “Somebody blew a coverage and they left the freshman alone running down the field. I thought, ‘hey, this is easy!’ Then I never did it again. There were 43 other catches that followed that never went for a touchdown.”

4. Shows smarts at Purdue

Olivadotti earned Academic All-Big Ten honors while at Purdue. He managed not only to earn an undergraduate degree in his four years there, but he actually completed requirements for a masters degree in educational administration as well.

But the most important thing Olivadotti took away from Purdue is his wife Keely. He was a junior and she was a senior when they met and they have pretty much been together ever since.

“Everybody knew Keely,” Olivadotti said. “I knew all her friends and she knew all my friends but we never really knew each other until later.”

5. Didn’t go straight into coaching.

Despite his built-in coaching pedigree, Olivadotti didn’t immediately jump into the profession. His first job out of college was as marketing director for an independent baseball league based in Lafayette, Ind.

“ The flagship team was the Lafayette Leopards, but there were teams in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Indiana,” Olivadotti said. “It was interesting. Basically you just had to find local restaurants who wanted to sponsor the games and stuff like that. It was decent money, but I realized pretty quickly I didn’t want to do that. Deep down I knew I wanted to be a coach. I just took that job to see if I could talk myself out of it.”

6. Started small as coach.

Olivadotti’s first job as a coach was at Maine Maritime, a tiny Div. III school in Castine, Maine. He found the job in a coaches-help-wanted listing, called the coach and offered to fly himself up at his own expense for an interview. Coach Mike Hodgson hired him on the spot to coach wide receivers and tight ends.

“I think he liked the commitment I showed by flying there on my own dime,” Olivadotti says with a laugh.

7. Switches to defense at Indiana State

Olivadotti moved up quickly through in the business. After one year at Maine Maritime, he moved to Indiana State for two years before the Washington Redskins hired him as a defensive quality control specialist.

It was at Indiana State that Olivadotti made the switch to defense. He had been hired to coach wide receivers, then the Sycamores changed to a triple-option offense and Olivadotti switched sides and coached secondary.

“From that time on I’ve been on defense ever since,” Olivadotti said. ”You end up watching so much film in this business, it doesn’t matter what you coach as long as you’re a clear communicator. A guy I used to work with said, ‘I could coach alligator wrestling if you gave me enough tape on it.’ It’s about communicating an idea more than anything.”

8. On the fast track in the NFL

Olivadotti’s technological acumen helped him thrive in the NFL. He got a job with the Washington Redskins in 2000 basically because he knew how to use computers.

“This was back when I had one of the two computers in the building,” Olivadotti said. “That’s basically why I got the job, because I knew how to do a playbook on the computer.”

9. The ultimate survivor in Washington

Olivadotti became linebackers coach and managed to remain employed by the Redskins for 11 years while working for seven head coaches: Norv Turner, Terry Robiskie, Marty Schottenheimer, Steve Spurrier, Joe Gibbs, Jim Zorn and Mike Shanahan.

“I never missed a paycheck,” he says proudly. “I got my last paycheck twice, but I never missed one.”

10. The road leads to Athens.

Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham had worked with Kirk’s father in Houston and contacted him in March of 2011 about the linebackers job when Warren Belin left for Carolina. Olivadotti was interviewed by fellow South Floridian Mark Richt in March and, again, was hired on the spot.

“I didn’t really come down to take the job; I just wanted to see if this was something I wanted to do,” Olivadotti said. “But during the interview process, Coach Richt decided he wanted me and I knew I wanted to come here. I had like 10 days to get ready for spring practice.”

OTHER PROFILES IN THIS SERIE

71 comments Add your comment

WDE

July 30th, 2012
2:07 pm

I think we have a keeper with Coach O.

UGA Insider

July 30th, 2012
2:23 pm

I am not hearing anything good today. Kolston Houston will not play this year and we are now down to 67 scholarship players who were recruited initially to play at UGA. We are about down to Penn St numbers.

Delbert D.

July 30th, 2012
2:32 pm

Every school needs guys like Olivadotti. Good man.

Paddy

July 30th, 2012
2:42 pm

UGA Insider…..what did you hear about KH & where?

G-Dawg

July 30th, 2012
2:47 pm

Agree with WDE!

Dawg07

July 30th, 2012
2:54 pm

Great story.

ARdawg

July 30th, 2012
2:55 pm

Seems like a great guy to have a beer with! But, pedigrees don’t equate into automatic coaches. I liked what I saw last year. Hopefully, this is the year we can tell we have Olivadotti on board

AltamahaDawg

July 30th, 2012
2:56 pm

I see you have modified your scholarship Numbers to only “originally recruited to play at Georgia”. Not the 75 that will show up tomorrow. That’s a silly, misinformed, illogical reference to what PSU will have in availible scholarships to give out in 2013.

AltamahaDawg

July 30th, 2012
2:58 pm

And I am sure you bout got a speeding ticket to get home to post that about Houston, before somebody else could.

UGA Insider

July 30th, 2012
3:00 pm

I had a coach I played golf with in a charity tourney last week mention it off the record. Please note it may NOT have been a UGA coach but knew something I am sure. We were discussing the 68 number and how UGA has inflated that number to 75 by handing out walk-on scholly’s the past few years. This was done to offset any negative press. Look for UGA to do the same in the next couple of weeks but at present we are very thin. No wonder CMR says it will be “all hands on deck” for special teams… We have no one else to do it. Horrible roster management by us.

UGA Insider

July 30th, 2012
3:03 pm

Altamaha Dawg,

I normally don’t argue with blind homers such as yourself but if you want to compete in this league year in and year out you need 85 SCHOLARSHIP players. Not 68 with 7 walk-ons. You will see what I am talking about in 2013 when we finally pay for horrible roster management.

AltamahaDawg

July 30th, 2012
3:04 pm

For the sake of this story we will ignore all the Dawg fans that are mad that we replaced our LB coach and didn’t hire a full time ST coach instead.

AltamahaDawg

July 30th, 2012
3:10 pm

No, you don”t argue. Nor do you discuss, nor do you debate.

You post the heck out of purely emnotion knee jerk reactions, though.

And YOU will see in 2013 how signing a TON of new recruits illustrates the actual logical difference between UGA’s attrition (however bad it is) and teams like PSU are LIMITED by penalties is.

AltamahaDawg

July 30th, 2012
3:16 pm

I actualy think we will have as fine team in 2013 as we do this year. I know you think we are losing a bunch of irreplacable seniors and a “bunch of Juniors”, but I don’t see it that way.

AlathamaDawg

July 30th, 2012
3:21 pm

Do not question my knowledge. Ever.

DawginLex

July 30th, 2012
3:21 pm

2013 defense:

DE: Garrison Smith – Sterling Bailey – James Deloach
NT: Kwame Geathers – Jonathan Taylor – Chris Mayes – Deandre
DE: Ray Drew – John Atkins – Mike Thornton
OLB: TJ Stripling – Ramik Wilson – Floyd – Mustaffa – McGee
OLB: Jordan Jenkins – Chase Vasser – Josh Clemons – Josh Dawson
ILB: Alec Ogletree – Brandon Burrows – Johnny O’Neil
ILB: Amarlo Herrera – Ryne Rankin – Reginald Carter – Tim Kimbrough
S: Corey Moore – Marc Deas
S: Tray Matthews – Quincy Mauger
CB: Damian Swann – Devin Bowman – Steven Nelson – Wilkerson
CB: Malcolm Mitchell – Sheldon Dawson – Shaq Wiggins

2013 offense

QB-Murray, Mason, Lemay, Bauta, Ramsey
RB-Marshall,Gurley,Malcome
FB-Hicks, Harton
OL-We return everyone-NO SENIORS
TE-Rome, Davis
WR-Everyone back except King
PK-Morgan
P-Barber

23 recruits already committed. 10-12 more coming

I’m trying to figure out “poor roster management”????

We look like a pretty dam good football team to me in 2013 with an OL that has tons of experience

AltamahaDawg

July 30th, 2012
3:21 pm

And the walk-ons were only awarded scholarships to “avoid the bad press”? What a bunch of BS. Would love to see you sit in a room with the actual Georgia coaches and suggest that.

Almost as much BS as you having some information “last week” but didnt break a leg to get in here 10 minutes later and pretend to know something.

AlathamaDawg

July 30th, 2012
3:25 pm

DawginLex and I are the smartest dawg fans in the world.

Bryan G.

July 30th, 2012
3:27 pm

Altamaha – However you slice it, we have 75 scholarships which include: 2 kickers, 2 long snappers, a walk-on tailback who is about 150 pounds, Reuben Faloghi (sp?), Blake Sailors, 2 kids who didn’t qualify this year and now KH. So, that, to me, sounds like 68 (which still includes 2 kickers).

DawginLex

July 30th, 2012
3:27 pm

I listed some of the recruits in the depth chart but also made an assumption that Jarvis Jones will go pro.

Far from a bare cupboard as many have stated

AltamahaDawg

July 30th, 2012
3:33 pm

So if we had 85, we wouldn’t be counting the kickers, long snappers, or back up LBs, Rbs?

DawginLex

July 30th, 2012
3:34 pm

Even with a full roster of 85, only around 50-55 will actually play offense, defense and special teams.

So we have 10 fewer standing around than our opponent? Big deal

If our 50-55 are better than theirs, we will still win.

WDE

July 30th, 2012
3:35 pm

@AlathamaDawg if your going to troll go ahead but at least pick a original name for your trollish self..what a maroon..

Bryan G.

July 30th, 2012
3:36 pm

If we had 85 and it included 2 kids who didn’t make it, 2 long snappers, and 3-4 walk-ons who got scholarships while at UGA, it would bother me a lot less than the fact that we now have 73 kids on scholarship who are on campus.

kingdaddy

July 30th, 2012
3:38 pm

Faloghi and Saliors= DGD/STaces. Both will knock your teeth out of your mouth.
The Sky is not Falling, but it is raining pretty good, lol…

Bryan G.

July 30th, 2012
3:38 pm

Yes, I rather enjoyed watching Sailors run around lost in the Dome against LSU.

WED

July 30th, 2012
3:42 pm

WDE

July 30th, 2012
3:43 pm

@Bryan G. while I hate to admit it the number of players running around lost for UGA that second half had nothing to do with who had scholarships and who didn’t .

AltamahaDawg

July 30th, 2012
3:45 pm

No there is absolutely an issue with those 10 guys missing.LEX. ST is going to be affected (which I have said all year). We can still put more regular guys out there and be better actually, but there is a danger to that. And the scout team is stocked with more walk-ons, and less “future” second stringers. So it’s certainly an issue. Probabaly why every fans and all the coaches are talking about it being an issue. (which makes it all the more odd for somebody to try to convince us of that which is not disputed).

In reality though:

#1. We are down from a combination of things, some of which is pure fantasy to think it could have just been majically done differently. ie, what exactly did people want them to do with Crowell? the issue was never………. is a 150 lbs guy a “better” player than him.

#2, Most of the 15 guy not availible were not going to be contributors and in a lot of cases actually were detractors. So it’s almost certain that a (recruit) now, would be on the field before they would anyway. In fact, might have not even get a spot if it weren’t availible.

kingdaddy

July 30th, 2012
3:46 pm

Look people, like it or not sometimes you get addition through subtraction. The trick will be finding kids with character and coaching them up to an elite level. We are going to miss out on many of the best kids in the state talent wise, but we should never, ever go through this again…

DawginLex

July 30th, 2012
3:46 pm

2012 defense:

DE: Abry Jones – Ray Drew – Cornelius Wasington – James Deloach
NT: Jonathan Jenkins – Kwame Geathers – Jonathan Taylor
DE: Garrison Smith – Sterling Bailey – Mike Thornton
OLB: Jarvis Jones – Jordan Jenkins – Chase Vasser – Josh Dawson
OLB: TJ Stripling – Ramik Wilson – Josh Clemons
ILB: Alec Ogletree – Amarlo Herrera – Brandon Burrows
ILB: Mike Gilliard – Christian Robinson
S: Bacarri Rambo – Marc Deas – Quantavious Harrow
S: Shawn Williams – Corey Moore
CB: Sanders Commings – Malcolm Mitchell – Devin Bowman
CB: Branden Smith – Damian Swann – Sheldon Dawson

As long as these guys are part of the 68/73 or whatever number it is, i like our chances

kingdaddy

July 30th, 2012
3:56 pm

Lex
You think when Sanders comes back, MM goes to nickel-back? MM may be better than SC. Either way, we’re good at cb…

Fred Sanford Stadium

July 30th, 2012
3:59 pm

Good enough to beat Buffalo and Florida Atlantic.

AltamahaDawg

July 30th, 2012
4:03 pm

The mismanagment as it is called is one sided. It’s not some big complicated mystery how the number got to this point. The numbers are a reflection of players losses for a variety of reasons. I would think that is something that a fan has to look at and say:

1. I agree with or accept, the guys we have lost.

2. I think we needed to keep those guy , and the “results” of not doing so is a valid complaint.

truedawg

July 30th, 2012
4:12 pm

This year will be fine..I think The Dawgs are moving in the right direction. I’m not worried about guys gettin kicked off the team. I’m not worried about numbers but how well the players we have perform. I do see next year as being the year with title possiblities. Not saying this team can’t get it done, but just tallent wise is lacking behind LSU and Bama. But with the O line and ST’s play…I’m wait and see. But with the returning tallent and normal new recruits and normal attrition…I’m seeing playmakers on both sides of the ball next year. GO DAWGS!!!

Joey

July 30th, 2012
4:12 pm

God bless Kasyn, and the whole Olivadotti family. I can’t imagine having that weight on your shoulders, and even functioning.

Holy Guacamole

July 30th, 2012
4:15 pm

Anybody know what happened to Zander at fullback?

Joey

July 30th, 2012
4:20 pm

We better have some luck in the injury department this season. We are kinda due.

Go Dawgs.

truedawg

July 30th, 2012
4:20 pm

Ya know enough about the defense..We still have Bobo who can’t change the game plan with the flow of the game. An unproven O line and new kicker and punter! I hope our Defense is lights out..We might need it this year to carry a few games. Go Dawgs!!!

Fred Sanford Stadium

July 30th, 2012
4:25 pm

The defense will do fine against Buffalo, FAU and GaSouthern. They didn’t perform against the better teams you played last year.

Spanky

July 30th, 2012
4:35 pm

Good post, Joey! You are right, Kasyn’s a fighter!

Sometimes it seems as though you fellas are arguing over how many nuts are in the brownie! LOL

SSI

July 30th, 2012
4:43 pm

Coach O sounds like a high quality man with a high quality family. Best of things for them all!

Dawg-Gawn

July 30th, 2012
4:45 pm

Quick, somebody send coach Olivadotti some tape of UGA’s special teams… they cost us big-time in two games that come to my mind (USCe & LSU). Seems to be, totally irresponsible not to have a coach assigned to oversee the S/Teams.

A shout from my heart, goes out to coach O’s daughter Kasyn… what a gamer she has proven to be, displaying strength and courage, at such a young age. She has definitely earned the letter “G”.

@AltamahaDawg:

Punting – LSU SECCG – Honey Badger – Geometry – I used my imagination and came up with the word Try-Angle which simply means to just try something to slow down the Honey Badger! Go watch the Boise State game and see how their punter and good coaching slowed down Boykin & Smith. I will say it again, UGA coaching lost the SECCG.

I live at a higher elevation in this state, than the Altamaha River… not sure if that’s where you live or not… really don’t care!

Up-there, Down-there – sorry, if you want to take it as an insult…. so be it!

ARdawg

July 30th, 2012
4:50 pm

Holy Guaccamole

I have been asking that same thing. He got in some hot water over a drug test I think but nothing about it or him since

AltamahaDawg

July 30th, 2012
5:07 pm

Imagination is certainly something that you have plenty of.

Joey

July 30th, 2012
5:12 pm

Fred, you are a dumb as your namesake acted like. Get somebody to help you decipher “statistics.” Then you will understand just because a team allowed x amount of points, doesn’t mean the team’s DEFENSE allowed x amount of points.

Joey

July 30th, 2012
5:15 pm

Dawg-Gawn brought a plastic knife to a gun fight . . .

Rich ham

July 30th, 2012
5:16 pm

Dawginlex

You can take all those 2013 signees off your list, until they actually sign a loi. You can also take Kgeathers, Alec o and murray off because they most likely will bolt 4 the draft. The cupboard is certainly not bare, but it’s also not fully stocked either. Safety is a huge concern for 2013, especially with tm really considering the barn.

Dawg-Gawn

July 30th, 2012
5:30 pm

“Imagination is more important than knowledge, knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” ~ Albert Einstein

Proud of it… Thank You!

Hint: Imagination is found on the right side of the brain, if you care to exercise it!

Dawg-Gawn

July 30th, 2012
5:39 pm

Joey:

Depends on how accurate you are with that gun and the size of my plastic knife! (*_~)