Now that David Hale has provided some much-needed perspective, it is time to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and move forward with finding a defensive coordinator. The fact that Mark Richt and Damon Evans came as close as they did to luring Bud Foster, John Chavis, and Kirby Smart away from very solid situations says that this job is more appealing than three public rejections suggest it is.
However, even if we treat the Kirby Smart escapade as a foul tip, we've still got two strikes against us, so the ball needs to be put into play on the next swing of the bat. Here's who I think we need to get:
That, ladies and gentlemen, is Travis Jones.
He was a four-year letterman as a defensive lineman for the Bulldogs and a team captain of the 1994 Georgia squad. He is a "double 'Dawg," having earned a bachelor's degree from the University in 1995 and a master's degree in 1998.
He was a graduate assistant at Georgia in 1997, working with the defensive line. He has coached defensive linemen for Kansas (2001-2002), Louisiana State (2003-2004), the Miami Dolphins (2005 and 2007), and the New Orleans Saints (2008-2009). He has five years of NFL coaching experience (2005-2009) and has been a college recruiting coordinator for five years (at Appalachian State from 1998 to 2000 and at LSU in 2003 and 2004). Like Kirby Smart, he is a Georgia graduate who has studied under Nick Saban.
At the college level, he coached SEC defensive player of the year Chad Lavalais, Marquise Hill, and Marcus Spears at LSU. As a graduate assistant, he helped tutor Richard Seymour and Marcus Stroud. An Irwinton native, he has for the last several years conducted a football camp in central Georgia to teach football, sportsmanship, and goal-setting to Peach State youngsters.
NFL background? Check. Ties to the state of Georgia and the University of Georgia? Check. SEC coaching experience? Check. Recruiting ability? Check. He's also a husband and father who devotes his time to community involvement in his home state, which is consistent with Mark Richt's overall approach to coaching and to life.
As an added bonus, his area of focus is on the defensive line. Can you name another Bulldog defensive coordinator whose position responsibility was the defensive line? I can: Erskine Russell.
In every sense of the term "our guy," Travis Jones is our guy. Let's go get him.
For the record, the Saints take the field against Arizona on Saturday afternoon at 4:30. Go Cardinals!