Mark Richt has once again gone back to the Nick Saban coaching tree to bring McNeese State co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Rob Sale to Athens to replace Will Friend.
Sale played for Saban at LSU, serving as a three year starter on the offensive line for the Bayou Bengals. He only began his coaching career in 2006, coaching one season in the high school ranks before reuniting with Saban at Alabama, where he served in various support capacities from 2007 to 2011. In 2012 he went home to Louisiana to serve as offensive line coach at McNeese State, added the co-offensive coordinator position for 2013, and now finds himself in an infield position coaching gig in the SEC. That's a solid career trajectory for a 35 year old coach.
Last season McNeese finished 17th in FCS in rushing offense, averaging 5.03 yards per carry and 221.9 rushing yards per game. Three of the offensive line's five starters were All-Southland Conference selections.
Many wondered if former Georgia offensive lineman and current graduate assistant Dan Inman (who did interview) might get a shot at the job. Inman has earned good reviews as a coach, and also as a recruiter, having been a big influence in the recruitment of 2016 offensive tackle commitment Ben Cleveland of Stephens County. In the end Sale has the experience that Inman would have been trying to gain in this job. I'd expect that Inman may move into another position with the football program this year and eventually end up getting a shot as OL coach at another school soon. His time is likely coming.
For now Sale has a lot of work to do on the recruiting trail. Georgia had been considered the favorite to land fast-rising 5 star prospect Chidi Valentine-Okeke until Will Friend left. The 'Dawgs also lost the commitment of 4 star offensive tackle Patrick Allen, who is now considering Tennessee and South Carolina, but might still be brought back into the fold by National Signing Day. But with the hiring of an energetic, successful young coach with a fist full of national championship rings, Coach Richt has taken a first step toward getting things back in order. Until later . . .