It looks like Georgia offensive line coach Sam Pitman is getting the call for his first head-coaching job in almost 30 years, a call which he richly deserves.
Now it falls to Kirby smart to replace the man who had as much to do with building the current bulldog football team as anyone except the head Dawg himself. Make no mistake, the Georgia offensive line job is going to be a very popular position. There’s a ton of talent on the roster, a marquee program, and an administration that was willing to pay the last guy more than any other offensive line coach in the nation. It’s not entirely accurate to say that Kirby can just point and tell his preferred candidate to get in the truck. But it’s safe to say Kirby will hear from more potential candidates than just about any other similarly situated interviewer in college football.
What will Smart be looking for? As with previous hires I expect him to go after a dynamic recruiter. Also expect him to go after someone with experience building a run – heavy attack. To the extent that the successful candidate comes from more of a spread background, it may say something about the future of the Bulldog offense. But I sort of doubt it.
What names could come up?
Herb Hand, Texas. No coach on this list has been around college football as long or as successfully as Hand. He’s been a Broyles Award nominee for the top assistant football coach in the country, and a fantastic cook (he’s appeared on Food Network shows and hosts grilling competitions for his players). If you’re looking to replace a larger than life personality with a proven track record with another personality with a solid resume, Hand’s your guy.
Herb Hand has helped produce such memorable favorites as the 2005 West Virginia offensive line that filleted Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, some of Auburn’s better recent rushing attacks, the Vanderbilt unit that helped make Zac Stacy an All-SEC candidate and the school’s career leading rusher, and the 2015 Penn State unit that paved the way for Saquon Barkley. If you want to show you’re serious this is the hire to make.
He won’t come cheap however, as Texas is one of the few programs that could match Georgia dollar for dollar if so inclined. There’s also a real chance Smart goes with a younger hire. Finally Hand currently also has a co-offensive coordinator title under Tom Herman, so bringing him to Athens might require a similar tag.
J.B. Grimes, Auburn. Longtime Gus Malzahn assistant Grimes is a solid recruiter whose offenses have generally run the ball well. He’s done very good things in the past two years with a young Auburn offensive line. If there is a knock on Grimes it is that what Kirby Smart wants to do offensively and what Gus Malzahn wants to do offensively can be two very different things.
Matt Luke. Before taking over as the head coach at his alma mater in the wake of Hugh Freeze’s tenure, Luke served as the offensive line coach at Ole Miss. He’s an SEC veteran, a solid recruiter, and would bring recent experience with Georgia’s upcoming opponents.
Cody Kennedy, Tulane. Kennedy just finished his first season is the offensive line coach at Tulane after serving as a graduate assistant under Pittman at Georgia in 2018. He coached at West Georgia the prior two seasons. Kennedy would be a bit of a gamble because he doesn’t have a long track record at this point. But his offensive line under Willie Fritz this past season was among the best running the ball in the country. Another bonus? If Smart wants to turn over a new leaf offensively he could always try to bring Kennedy and Tulane offensive coordinator Will Hall as a package deal.