Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Grantham Era Begins

What you want as a defense is, after the game is over, the team you played is 
happy they dont have to play you anymore. - Georgia DC, Todd Grantham

Bama can Get Smart all they want. The Hokies can continue to Foster more ACC crowns. And the Nerds can try and Groh a pair...whatevs.

Coach Richt got Grantham. He is a Dawg...and is ready to GATA!

Here's Hale's overview of the teleconference. If you frequent Scout, here's Legge's full transcript, with audio ($$). Some key points:
  • Grantham will coach the LBs in the 3-4 scheme and spoke highly of Rodney Garner.
  • There is absolutely NO question this guy craves the QBs head on a platter and will use whichever players are most likely to deliver it.
  • Assistants seem to be up to anyone's guess, including Garner. I like Grantham's reasoning for working with the LBs and that would seem to bode well for Garner staying (not to mention being two weeks from Nat'l Signing Day). But now that the DC has been named and other programs' staffs are taking shape as well, things will move fast. Hold on tight.
  • In the weeks leading up to Grantham being named, many potential candidates were 3-4 coaches. A popular question on the minds and the message boards has been who will play the nose, a key component. The words Grantham used to describe Jay Ratliff (Cowboys' NG) was technically sound, great initial quickness, relentless off the ball and understands the defense. Translation - mind over matter.
  • Todd Grantham wants to be a Dawg.
Perhaps that last point is most important. Coach Richt spoke of his search process being "deliberate" and patient for defensive assistance. While the media and many, many fans were craving the press conference where Kirby Came Home, CMR simply wanted the right guy.

Foster wasn't it and neither was Chavis or Koenning. Smart came very,very close...but in the end made the right choice for him. Hear me loud and clear reader, that was also the best case scenario for us. Smart didn't choose to stay in Tuscaloosa because of some supposed rift between current coaches. He stayed with darling Nicky because that was what made sense to him professionally. Bama, and more importantly UGA, are all the better for that decision.

Why? Because in turn, Todd Grantham fell into our lap. He's the more qualified candidate. And he wants to be in Athens. Don't let rumors and innuendo cloud your judgment on the matter.

Now, some full disclosure. I've made no secret as to being luke warm to Grantham initially. As the day drew nearer where it appeared he would be running the defense I yell and scream and bark for each fall...I did a little investigative blogging.

My main concern was the ending in Cleveland. You may read certain mindless assholes journalists in the coming days who point to Grantham's firing. Off the record, this was painted to me in a clearer light. In truth, Grantham was an outstanding coach in a very bad situation. The GM (no longer employed in Cleveland) was a dimwit. The coach (also no longer employed in Cleveland) had a difference of opinion as well as a separate supporting faction.

Grantham was given an extension and felt comfortable. It unraveled from there. Grantham likes to bring relentless pressure using stunts and bllitzes. Other coaches preferred to read and react. As things spiraled into a disappointing season, Grantham was the odd man out. He made some mistakes, namely failing to keep relationships positive. But Grantham was against the eight ball in a poorly run program.

As for him not being a players coach...that may point to a personality that will work better with kids out of high school as opposed to with kids who have money to burn. I think it was Tony Dungy that said he'd rather coach 19 year old poor kids than 25 year old millionaires. No offense to Sean Jones who is a heck of a player, but he may have been a product of his environment while in Cleveland.

In the end, Grantham was the scapegoat in a city where losing is synonymous with Sundays and landed in a great situation in Dallas. And as the Georgia DC search unfolded, a grossly overqualified coach walked away from America's Team to bring teeth back to a defense in the Nation's greatest city.

Welcome to Athens Coach Todd Grantham. We're so glad you've come.

Cutcliffe on Dookies vs HillBillys

This is an informative video as David Cutcliffe explains his reasoning for staying at Duke University rather than assume the head coaching position at Tennessee. However, you will have to read a little in between the lines.

Until the end that is, when Cutcliffe explains the difference between the SEC and the ACC. It turns out to be just four fingers. (h/t Rex)

Friday, January 15, 2010

As the HillBilly Turns

It'll take about eight minutes of your life...but if you wanna see the press room negotiations before KiffyBaby gave his "statement" on Tuesday night...CLICK HERE. (classlesskiffin disabled embedding, so I couldn't import it.)

Plenty of Stoopid Will Go Unfixed

Leaving town with a full blown riot in your rear view mirror will do more than burn some mattresses bridges. KiffyBaby seems as drawn to negative publicity as strongly as I am an ice chest full of cold beer.

Although I'm not surprised by the backlash given the swarthiness with which the Kiffin Kamp operates, the truth is there's plenty of stoopid to spread around. Chief among them, Athletic Director Mike Hamilton. After all, it was his multi-colored lollipop and endless Wal-Mart mini merry go round rides that lured the young Kiffin.

I don't usually buy into the violin strumming when a coach leaves and his players are left behind with empty a free education. I mean, a show of hands for those of us with student loans...

But while we chuckle at those HillBilly fans who have pissed on their own dreams (h/t Pump)'s easier to feel sympathy for those Tennessee student-athletes that just arrived on campus. What a hot mess they just got themselves into. If the admins in Knutsville had any measure of class, they would cut these kids loose to make up their own mind.

But University of Tennessee and class are difficult to fit into the same sentence. I had to use a hammer myself just then. But a bucket full of hammers won't fix the stupid up on Rocky Flop. Let them rant and rave about their coach leaving in the dark of night, trading the Rocky Mountain Oysters for the warm sea breezes. Let them stamp their feet and test the integrity of their suspenders.

A truckload of hammers ain't gonna fix that much stupid.

the Friday Feedbag
  • Just think...last week this time Carroll still wore a trojan, Kiffin still gave Slive a headache and Conan wasn't facing unemployment.
  • Asked to describe KiffyBaby's career in Knutsville in one word, AD Hamilton said, "brief." I didn't know Hamilton's vocabulary was so extensive.
  • As news broke in Tennessee Tuesday night, I found the Fulmer rumors preposterous (laughable...uh, I got a chuckle for any HillBillys visiting today). However, it becomes clearer that Philmer may be positioning himself well for the ADship once the row boat Hamilton's using finally sinks.
  • Out in SoCal, Kiffin has already ruffled some feathers (all together...Duh!!). As he took the podium for his presser, USC was in desperate negotiations for Norm Chow to head the Trojan offense. Yet the Kifster balked when asked, indicating that he would run the offense as he always has. (editor's note: Chow and Kiffin do not exchange Christmas cards)
  • Yet in the transcript of the press conference, that particular question and answer mysteriously disappeared.
  • Back on East coast time, South Florida skipped to Holtz.
  • Kyle King wonders why Jeff Schultz is giving Gary Stokan such a pass.
  • Chad Simmons' lays out just why ($$) this weekend is so big for the short-handed Georgia staff.
  • The Senator finds Sen. Hatch's letter to Prez Obama a little ironic.
  • PWD sees progress on the hardwood.
  • Meanwhile, the Lady Dawgs saw their streak end in Nashville.
  • Daugman stayed up to watch Yata's late night heroics. And if you missed the video of his call up from D-league, you should watch it.
  • It's always great to see a Dawg have his day! And for Sundiata Gaines, there should be plenty more ahead.

Trivial Update

Q - After starting his collegiate playing career at Garden City Community College, Coach Mark Fox lettered two years at what institution?
A - East New Mexico University

To help celebrate Coach Fox's birthday, ThursdaysRTrivial made a fastbreak for the head guy's bio. Ally didn't need a steal this week, but threw it down Leslie Style to claim the retro replica wig of Albert Jackson's former dreads. Alan then broke the game wide open with an easy lay up; he claims a pair of Carlos Strong size 16s (go Jags!). Last but not least, Melissa heaved a desperation three at the buzzer that couldn't find the bucket. For her efforts though she gets a very festive Happy Birthday kazoo and matching hat. That is...if Coach Fox is done with them.

If you're in the Mall of Georgia Sunday afternoon and hear the screams of 8 year old girls, don't panic. Steer clear of the daughter's birthday party and everything will be fine. If you hear me scream...well, keep running. Save yourself.

Besides, we don't have enough cake for you too Reader. But have a good weekend anyway.


Grantham is a Dawg - UPDATED

Here's the official UGA release. Welcome to Athens Todd Grantham...well, you know...after you finish this Super Bowl thing.

According to Tom Dienhart, senior college football writer for Rivals, Todd Grantham has agreed to a three year deal to become Georgia's new defensive coordinator. The deal evidently would make the Dallas Cowboys d-line coach the third highest paid DC in the nation.

Georgia will hire Todd Grantham as defensive coordinator.
Grantham has been the defensive line coach of the Dallas Cowboys the past two seasons. Prior to that, he was defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns from 2005-07. Grantham also has served on NFL staffs with the Houston Texans (2002-04) and Indianapolis Colts (1999-2001). He last coached in college with Michigan State from 1996-98 under Nick Saban. Grantham was a defensive lineman at Virginia Tech.
Grantham, 43, takes over a Georgia defense that ranked seventh in the SEC during an 8-5 season. Defensive coordinator/secondary coach Willie Martinez, co-defensive coordinator/linebackers John Jancek and defensive ends coach Jon Fabris were fired.
I have had reservations about Grantham, but truly believe that we are getting a very good coach. In the coming days, AJC hacks and rival fanbases will opine about the search's length and scoff at the hire's resume. But in reality, CMR has conducted a very deliberate and thorough search.

And most importantly, Dawg fans will see a drastically different and improved defense come fall.

More details and thoughts later.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Coaching Rumor Update, episode XI

As we wait, here are some links to coaching searches from around the world of tackle college football.

  • Signs are clearly pointing towards Grantham being Coach Richt's next target and Tim Tucker explores that and the continued obstacles that CMR faces on this search. 
  • I've been luke warm on Grantham, but am warming up. I don't have the sense of urgency that many fans do. I want a coach as soon as possible, but getting the right guy is most crucial.
  • From what I gather, Grantham is an enthusiastic coach who was in a bad situation while the DC in Cleveland. It's important to note that after Grantham was dismissed, the GM wasn't far behind.
  • And from Coach Richt's perspective he's looking for a guy who brings something different to the table, otherwise he wouldn't have fired his good friend 42 days ago. And from what I've read, Grantham would be a relatively dramatic departure from what we've seen in Sanford recently. His philosophy is to pressure the signal caller rather than to read and react to what's in front of you.
  • So if Coach Richt is sold that this guy's professional personality would translate on the college level...I'm in line. We should know by Sunday if it is Todd Grantham.
  • Al Groh interviews with the Miami Dolphins. Not surprising since he and Dolphins' GM Bill Parcells have known each other since before Woodstock. I think they performed right after Joe Cocker.
  • The HillBillys are still scrambling their eggs. Keep your eye on Troy Calhoun out of Air Force. It's believed he was within a breath of landing on Rocky Top a year ago. And I'm guessing if the Vols do go with Calhoun he'd be able to keep DeRuyter from possibly being lured to Texas A&M.
  • DeRuyter would still be my first choice. The guy's a winner with a stable resume. The AJCs Schultz believes those on North Avenue should take a look at the Air Force DC...or Manny Diaz. (I could've sworn I read somewhere that Missy State had named Diaz their DC, but can't find it now and assume I dreamt it.)
To close, I'm convinced Coach Richt will get the best guy out there. It'd be a bonus if Tennessee and Georgia Tech would reach too far down the branch.

More tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Humpday Headers

Ground Zero: Knutsville is living up to its name. colorful graffiti, burning mattresses, skipped classes, paper shredders, angst to the nth degree. In the blink of an eye, orange flavored hopes and dreams cast aside like the peel of a fruit.
  • First and foremost, go wish Hale a Happy Birthday! If we all pitch in together, maybe we could buy out Andy Reid's contract for him...
  • Clifton Geathers feeling very proofessional.
  • The news from Rocky Flop I think puts to rest all the specualtion as to what exactly Slive does with the folding money made each season from two BCS berths. As we sip our coffee and Monster energy cans this morning...a large wire transfer is making its way to sunny Cali.
  • KiffyBaby will open his presser in SoCal by saying something to the tune of We just wanna do here in LA what we were able to accomplish when we were in the SEC. Bank on it.
  • Back in AthensTown...Low writes that the Georgia DC job will go to Grantham and that he'll join Coach Richt once the Cowboys return to their normal selves and fail epically.
  • I just can't help thinking...with all the turmoil in the SEC East right now (read: Slurban's achy breaky, Nuts in Knustville, new Joker up north, Spurrier not so cocky) nice would it be to have a big positive press conference? You know, one without all the state troopers and pitchforks outside.
  • Take this for what it's worth, but ESPNs Insider says Low has Will Muschamp at the top of the Vol's list. Low used to beat the path in Knustville, but I agree with Mortensen...why wouldn't the Vol's AD Mike Hamilton call Cutcliffe? Ugh...
  • Surely Cutcliffe wouldn't leave Duke for Rocky Flop...surely....right?
  • Last and likely least, Joe Namath's daughter doesn't blather on and on about wanting to kiss Suzy, but she doesn't know how to obey speed limits when transporting enough marijuana to feed a Tennessee basketball squad for a whole season.
And just one final he and Layla rode away, did anyone hear lil' Kifster singing Rocky Top? If not, it woulda been a fitting end.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Coaching Rumor Update, episode X

Closing the latest chapter...we at least know what kind of money Coach Richt is working with and that a multi-year contract is in his arsenal. Going forward, I think the critical points are these:
  • That we don't overpay for a candidate.
  • And that we open the playbook.

I posted late last week that we would make a play for Smart then grab Grantham. That may still happen. But a deep breath may find more names entering the mix. If there's one positive to come from the time it took the Smart Saga to play out, it's that it gained some attention nationwide. The last thing we want to do is be at the table with one last guy when he knows that he's the winner. It may be hard for some fans to fathom, but maybe a silver britched lining Monday was that a few more resumes were faxed in and Richt and Evans can still play this out from a position of power.

Just three days ago I speculated that the percentage chances were Smart 15%, Grantham 40% and Mystery Defensive Guru 45%. Maybe now it's 60/40 in favor of the man behind the curtain.

And more and more I'm getting sold on a guy I somewhat casually mentioned the other day, Tim DeRuyter. I'd seen Air Force completely dismantle one of the nation's most prolific offensive attacks in Houston. He intrigued me. Then Texas_Dawg left this comment:

We don't need another recruiter. We need a tactician. DeRuyter is that. He has taken two units, in very different settings (Ohio and Air Force), from the bottom of their conference to near the top.
Plus he has an MBA which is pretty cool for a DC.

I'd much rather have him than Smart (who is unproven so long as he is coaching under Saban).

We don't need a recruiter. We need a tactician. Truer words may never have been posted on this blawg. Willie wasn't let go because he couldn't recruit. We can get out a finer toothed comb and argue talents levels between 2001 and today, but the truth is that there is talent on the roster to win more than 4 SEC games.

DeRuyter is kown for taking defenses that are below par and bringing them to the top. (Where did Willie's unit finish last season?) DeRuyter's defenses attack offenses with pressure; they smack you in the mouth and then get ready to line up and do it again. This season the Falcons had 20 interceptions and recovered 14 fumbles while allowing 15 points.

DeRuyter may be the best tactician out there for CMR. The guy has not just survived, he's thrived...against a variety of defenses. He can make the nerds piss in their high waters and he's seen plenty of spread attacks.

The true value in Smart was more than his background and resume. It was even more than his alumni status. His greatest impact would have certainly been in recruiting. The kid is doing just as good a job in Tuscaloosa as Bobo is in Athens. To steal him away from Bama would not have impacted the upcoming class much, but it would have paid dividends down the road. That in my mind is why Damon gave CMR the big boy checkbook.

DeRuyter has proven he can scheme and produce the results we're hoping for. It might surprise me if he came out from behind the curtain, but it'd be a pleasant surprise. After all, the guy wouldn't command the contract we were passing across the table to Smart. But he might produce even better results.

A New Chapter

It turns out the Smart saga was a chapter, not an ending. I'm not mad, just disappointed. There's a measure of hurt to having an alum and former player turn you down. Many are blowing Smart apart for this and I'd give them the space to do so. But about five minutes after the announcement I was ready to move forward. No grief, no real hard feelings. Just don't come back wanting the head position Kirb...

So beyond the disappointment...whatevs. The reality (whether some fans would admit it or not) is that for every percentage chance that Smart would've turned into the best DC on the south sideline since Erk....there's an equal percentage chance that he would have been closer to Ramsey.

As I said Saturday, Smart would have made Coach Richt a hero and the press conference would have generated double digit ratings. But the truth is he's not the right coach for Georgia. As Streit so eloquently pointed out, the right coach wants to be in Athens. Smart was not that man.

For Coach Richt, the page turned on him again yesterday. And while the huddled masses groan about the embarrassment and duration of this search, I'm sure CMRs focus is the same today as it was the day he told three coaches to hand over their whistles.

Let's be clear....there's no sense of entitlement here Reader. No one said this would be easy. And as difficult as the process has been on the interwebs and the social networks, the load is multiplied for the head guy. Last I checked neither Mark Bradley nor Colin Cowherd were Hartman donors. So if you're ashamed when you read newspapers, fold them up. When a DotCom says we're floundering around...just click away. If a talk radio dude laughs at your beloved program, turn the damn dial. Talk is even cheaper than print.

Coach Richt is doing work. He'll finish this drill. And we'll all be better for it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Kirby Hung Up...

...and Mama's pissed.

Me...well, I am disappointed. I'll differentiate the two for you later. Maybe by tomorrow if I can get rid of this headache.

For now, I'm just reminded of a old song by a group called the Tempos, a remake...I think. If someone as old as Rex or my dad reads this, maybe they can tell us for sure.

For now just sing along, substituting the word December everytime you hear September. (More on this prognostication later too)

Monday's Meatloaf - Home is Where the Dawg Is?

Ok, so a couple sites have reported that Smart heard Mama call. Meanwhile, some over on Bama message boards say Smart told us to shove it (yeh, they use big words over there). In the event that something actually becomes news between the time I click Publish and the time I actually get back in front on my computer today, you should make Hale your dependable click (and if you really wanna be on the cutting edge, check out his tweets). Those AJC hacks are too busy searching for news that done broke.

After following this story all weekend, I'm ready for it to bear fruit or to move on to the next option. If nothing else, it might keep the Crimson Tide traffic down to a minimum again. Sure, they act all tough with their Why do we care if Smart leaves, it's Saban's defense. Sunseri's ready (spelling corrected of course, Sunseri really throws em off). But they come across state lines with their mouse clicking as soon as Damon gives Richt the keys to the red and black Brinks.

Today's Ingredients
  • Rennie officially hangs up his silver britches. Thanks for the memories #35. Damn Good Dawg.(h/t Rex)
  • The University of South Florida needs a replacement tackle football coach after firing their player abuser, Jim Leavitt. They are supposedly interested in Mark Richt.
  • In other news, Lawrence Welk was once interested in obtaining dancing lessons from MC Hammer.
  • If the world were perfect, I would get my thoughts in print before they are reproduced in reality. When it became clear that Pete was jumping from the starboard side of the Titantic the college ranks to the pros, the first thing I thought of was the forsaken hand of Mark Sanchez last January. Well, Sanchez says best of luck Coach Carroll. But I say...let it rain Beeatch!
  • Who could possibly replace such an totally rad coach in LA? Well, who else but Exile to tackle that question.
  • Cordgeous writes in with a PSA: Bourbon is a better pain killer for a bad back than naproxen sodium. All together now - Duh!
  • The Gardendale Wal-Mart used to just be known for Low Low Prices. Six thousand Bama fans trudged through it this weekend to pick up some crystal.
  • To the hardwood where Landers' Lady Dawgs pushed the fightin' lady reptiles around Stegeman and pushed their record to a perfect 16-0.
  • On Saturday, Coach Fox and his Dawgs gave Calipari's suit more than a wrinkle. And Travis Leslie has a Sportscenter video editor working overtime. 
  • The effort in Lexington was stellar. But by Coach Fox's post game tweet, you could tell the mood was anything but joyous. You'll never cut open a winner and find they are good losers.
  • If you weren't yet sold on our new roundball coach...well, by now you should be.

Back to the Smart Plan, I think it was Ivan Maisel who wrote that this one will come down to heartstrings  and career strategy. If indeed Bama has ante'd up, it's hard to believe we'd go too much further into the Butts-Mehre bank vault....if the reported 750-800k is accurate. My gut tells me the two offers would be comparable in cash and length. Of course, it also told me to eat that bag of cheese balls the other day.

So which is the Smarter move? Under Saban's wing with all those returning players, then safely tucked back in a closet away from any cameras or microphones? Or an opportunity to turn around a defense loaded with raw talent?

We can all speculate, but only one person really decides in the end....The wife! So if Mama's call ain't enough, maybe Andy Landers is the trump card. Mary Beth trusts him with the babies, so they would obviously have a babysitter. And it's not like they can trust some beer gut in a houndstooth with those little ones.

Here's your napkin Reader. You got a little on your chin, other side.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Coaching Rumor Update, episode IX

Word of caution, if you're an avid Dawg rumor mongerer like the rest of us you're not likely to learn anything new here. So let's divide this up between what we know, what we can surmise and what we don't know.

What We Know:
  • Kirby Smart has been offered the DC job.
  • It reportedly will roughly double what his salary is in Tuscaloosa. And in even better news, it's a four year deal.
  • If Smart accepted, he would become one of the top assistants in the country in terms of salary.
  • Pollack's tweets are designed to generate maximum interest from followers....
  • As much grief as we give other institutions' fanbases about their frenzied times we're right up there.
  • My gauge of our chances at Smart yesterday was a tad conservative.
What We Can Surmise
  • Smart is more than listening.
  • Damon Evans is serious about supporting this search financially.
  • Is Smart stays, we will move swiftly towards Grantham...or Mystery Defensive Guru, aka Man Behind the Curtain.
What We Don't Know
  • Whether Kirby will come home and when this thing will end.
  • Whether Bama will truly push the chair away from the table.
Afterall, darling Nicky can always just promote hissownself. As for me, I'm going to church to pray that this thing has a happy ending. Or just an ending at all.

Bonus Nugget - Rennie will announce his decision today.