We knew the off-season coaching dominoes would likely include some falling in Athens. But in the past weeks the dominoes appear to have come clattering down decidedly in Kirby Smart’s favor.
Following Nick Saban’s retirement at Alabama Georgia has now snagged the Tide’s defensive backs coach, longtime SEC assistant Travaris Robinson.
Robinson has spent a decade coaching around the SEC, including stops at Florida, Auburn (his alma mater), South Carolina (where he served as Will Muschamp’s defensive coordinator) and now Georgia. He will serve as defensive backs coach and co-defensive coordinator.
In concert with Robinson’s arrival, Will Muschamp will be stepping back to an analyst role. There had been rumblings that Coach Boom wanted to take a step back, but keeping him with the program as another set of eyes on the film and another voice in defensive strategy seems like the perfect solution. It also allows Coach Smart to add a big piece to his staff in Robinson.
What does Robinson bring to Athens? For one thing he’s coached a series of NFL-caliber and All-American defenders. That includes players like Matt Elam and Vernon Hargreaves at Florida and Jaycee Horn and Israel Mukuamu at South Carolina.
But “Coach T-Rob” is perhaps best known as a recruiter, one of the most consistently successful recruiters in the southeast over the past decade. By my quick count he’s been the lead recruiter for six different 247Sports five star recruits in the past ten years. That’s to say nothing of dozens of other elite prospects, especially in his native Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas.
Perhaps the biggest impact of Robinson’s hiring may not be in Athens, but in Tuscaloosa. New Crimson Tide coach Kalen DeBoer has already begun building a new staff that leans heavily on his Pacific Northwest and Great Plains roots. While no one can say for certain how well DeBoer will do replacing the greatest college football coach in history, there has been unanimous agreement that he needs Deep South recruiting ties to be successful. Alabama recruits nationally, just like every elite program in modern college football. But the base of the Tide’s power has been along the lines of scrimmage with players recruited from a six state area below the Mason Dixon Line that also happens to be Coach Robinson’s historic recruiting territory.
Taking the coach off the Alabama staff with the deepest recruiting ties to the region is a subtle way of pulling some bricks out of the wall of invincibility surrounding the Bama program. I can’t say that’s what Coach Smart had in mind with this hire. But it’s a nice side effect at a minimum.
The move also feels like decent insurance against the likely loss of Glenn Schumann. Georgia’s other co-defensive coordinator interviewed for the Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator position last year, and is going to keep popping up on interview lists as one of the brightest young coaches out there. He’s leaving for the right job once it comes open, maybe as soon as Kalen DeBoer realizes what a good hire he’d make at Schumann’s alma mater. Coaching silly season ain’t over yet. Until later…