Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
Following 2012, Georgia finds itself in a position from which it has been notably absent in the past several years... that is, the potential that one or both coordinators might be hired away to higher positions at some time in the near future. So where will that leave the Dawgs?
The consistent progress and improving perception of our program has been a welcome development for fans of the Georgia Bulldogs over the last two years. The "they didn't play anyone" meme notwithstanding, immediately following the SEC Championship game (and its soul-crushing disappointment) it became clear to everyone not named Chuck Oliver that Georgia had elevated itself firmly back into the realm of "one of the big boys" of the SEC. A great deal of the credit for that must go to Todd Grantham and Mike Bobo.
Of the two, Georgia fans are probably most surprised at the ascent of Coach Bobo. After a few years of head-scratching play calling, CMB seems to have finally developed into the offensive coordinator Coach Richt obviously believed he could become. While he still has his moments, Coach Bobo has helped form a high-powered, high-scoring offense that will give teams fits in 2013. He has also shown a surprising willingness to mix in more wrinkles to the offense than in the past and has demonstrated that he can bail out the defense with quick scoring drives when necessary. While we as fans are prone to skepticism when it comes to CMB, we have to believe that if 2013 is anything like 2012 on the offensive side of the ball, someone is going to come calling for Mike Bobo.
So where would that leave the Georgia Bulldogs? First, I should say that while I think Bobo will get offers, I think he's a Georgia lifer. I just get that vibe from him and I think that as long as Mark Richt is at Georgia, Mike Bobo will be as well. If he were to take a head coaching job somewhere, though, Georgia would be in a good position to continue its success. Because Georgia is so committed to a balanced, pro-style approach, the candidate pool from which Georgia could draw its next OC is appreciably larger than if we were running one of the newer or more "gimmicky" systems currently making the rounds in college football. While there are a bevy of strong OC's in the college ranks that run pro-style offenses, my preference would be for Georgia to follow the model used with Todd Grantham: a strong position coach from the NFL looking to step up to coordinator duties (possibly with previous OC experience as Grantham had).
The Dawgs are much more likely to be in danger of losing Todd Grantham in the next few years. This partially comes from strong defensive showings, partially from the NFL experience, and partially from Grantham's expressed desire to be a head coach at some point. Grantham has consistently shown improved talent evaluation and player development over his predecessors and may have as many as 3 players taken in the first round of the NFL draft this year. He has also demonstrated the ability to make game-altering halftime adjustments in big games. Those are achievements that are pretty easy to pitch during a job interview. I'd like to believe that we can hold off the wolves for a few more years and keep Grantham around until at least 2015, but if he can have this young incoming group of defenders performing at an elite level by the end of 2013, he will be fielding offers.
Should Grantham choose to take over as a head coach somewhere (hopefully far, far away and not on Georgia's schedule -- or better yet, as a DC in the NFL again!), the Dawgs are actually in a very strong position to hire a top notch defensive coordinator. The state is talent rich, we have resurfaced as a recruiting power on the national stage, and we've demonstrated a commitment to improvement and excellence on the defensive side of the ball that was sorely missing under Willie Two Thumbs. I don't see Grantham leaving for Kentucky or Duke or Kansas (or someplace like that), so the predecessor of our new hire will be a man who went from relative obscurity with the Cowboys DL to a plum HC position. That's a helluva pitch for Mark Richt to make to an up-and-coming defensive mind. Again, I like the NFL position coach to college DC move here, if only because it seems to have worked out just fine with Grantham.
As a program, Georgia will find itself with a large number of interested parties should a coordinator position come open. There are two pitfalls, however, that the Dawgs must avoid. The first is not to skimp on the paycheck for the new guy. I don't know that we'll ever pay like Alabama, but we've shown an increased willingness to open up the wallet over the past several years (at least in football) and that will need to continue if we are to hire a first rate coordinator. We also need to scrap any notion of promoting from within. That got us Bobo... who certainly took longer to develop into a quality OC than most of us would have liked and Willie Martinez... so I'm a little hesitant to head down that path again. Ultimately, Georgia has everything that an elite coordinator could want in a program. We need to recognize that and demand the best... but be smart about it.
What are your thoughts on coordinator succession? Who might come calling for Bobo and Grantham and when do you believe that might happen? If/when it does, who would you like to see at the helm of Georgia's offense and defense? Tell us in the comments.