Friday, January 10, 2014

More on Lakatos, then moving forward

Reading the tea leaves from this post by Emerson, those that think the Georgia defensive backs coach was fired, appear to be mistaken.
This has been in the works for awhile, from what I'm told, and it may have happened - perhaps even probably still would have - had Georgia's secondary not struggled so much this year.
Personal reasons were given as the reason for Lakatos stepping down, and it's a very legitimate reason, according to a couple sources within the program. Yes, the secondary had a rough season, and yes, I do think a fresh approach with some of the youngsters will be good. But one source described to me how hard Lakatos has worked, whether it was on the field or in recruiting. He's a respected coach, and the decision to leave appears to be mostly his own. If this was a firing, it would have happened after the Georgia Tech game.
And that was my question last night once the news broke - if this were a case of Lakatos getting a pink slip it would've happened weeks ago. After Georgia beat Tech in 2009, it didn't take very long before Richt showed Martinez and crew the way out. No, this smells differently. Much so. I agree with Blutarsky, we'll never really know. And quite frankly, it doesn't sound like it's any of our business, except that it allows both parties a fresh start.

So, moving along...
 That also doesn't mean that a search for a new secondary coach is suddenly beginning. Lakatos leaving has been a possibility for awhile now, and frankly I was a bit surprised it wasn't announced after the Georgia Tech game. I suspect that Todd Grantham has been laying some groundwork for awhile, and something could happen relatively quickly.
As for potential replacements, I've thrown out Manny Diaz's name (the former Texas defensive coordinator, not the longtime Georgia tennis coach) because he's available, and there is a connection with Richt. That doesn't mean it will be him. Grantham could very well reach back into his NFL contacts; that's how Kirk Olivadotti ended up being hired three years ago. Or it could be the ex-coordinator who's available, the way Chris Wilson was hired last year.
According to Shattle Fenteng (one of Georgia's three defensive back commitments for 2014) and a conversation the JUCO standout had yesterday with Coach Grantham, the first looks to replace Lakatos may in the NFL. That would be my first guess, and I believe if that's the direction Grantham turns it will happen quickly.

But last season Chris Wilson was brought in from a rival nearby competitor. Personally, I'd prefer Grantham and Richt start in the college ranks, especially considering that Wilson has hit the ground running so well. Say what you will about the lack of consistency from Lakatos' unit this season, but it appears to me he was doing a good job recruiting the right players. So reaching out to someone like Florida's Tavaris Robinson, who is known as a solid recruiter, might be a solid step to take. Florida finished first in the conference for pass defense, so Richt could do a lot worse for sure. And it's not too big a leap to assume a spot on Richt's staff in Athens would be just a little more secure than one in Gainesville.

While I'm throwing names out there at random (somewhat), what about Vanderbilt's George Barlow? There's word around Nashville that, if indeed there is a new coaching search for the Commodores, defensive coordinator Bob Shoop will get a good luck at replacing James Franklin. If that happens, Barlow would likely assume the full-time duties of defensive coordinator. But if not...and if there's, ahem, no ill will between Grantham and one of Franklin's assistants...then Barlow could be looking for a stable landing spot. The 'Dores finished sixth in the conference in pass defense last season and had nearly twice as many interceptions as Florida did. Just looking at players like Andre Hal (Thorpe, Bednarik and Nagurski Award watchlists) the last couple of seasons and Trey Wilson in '11 and '12, he's done an exemplary job developing talent in Nashville.

That's just some food for thought. We'll look at some more candidates I'm sure as the situation develops.