Where Does Georgia Turn If DC Todd Grantham Bolts for Chip Kelly's Staff?

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeFeatured Columnist IVMarch 30, 2017

October 6, 2012; Columbia, SC, USA; Georgia Bulldogs defensive coordinator Todd Grantham on the sidelines in the first half against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The college football coaching carousel took an unexpected turn on Wednesday, when Oregon head coach Chip Kelly changed his mind and left Eugene to take the head coaching job for the Philadelphia Eagles, two weeks after spurning the NFL to stay with the Ducks.

So what does Kelly's decision have to do with the SEC?

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Kelly will likely change the Eagles' 4-3 scheme to a more aggressive 3-4 scheme. Comcast Sports Net Philadelphia reports that one of Kelly's targets to fill the role of defensive coordinator on Kelly's staff is Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.

Under Grantham's leadership, Georgia finished 2011 with the nation's No. 5 defense, after giving up just 277.2 yards per game. The Bulldog defense took a step back in 2012, giving up 357.8 yards per game and finishing 12th in the SEC in rush defense (182.14 YPG).

Seth Emerson of Macon.com reports that the thinking around the program is that Grantham would take the Eagles job if he's offered, but that Georgia hasn't received a request for permission to speak with Grantham.

So where would Georgia turn if Grantham is plucked from the coaching staff so late in the process?

One name that immediately comes to mind is Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart. He's a hot name, a former Georgia player and would likely benefit from getting out of head coach Nick Saban's shadow and being the unquestioned leader of a defense for an offensive-minded head coach like Georgia's Mark Richt.

But Smart makes $950,000 per year and has established himself as the hottest assistant coach in the country. Why would he give up that salary and risk hurting his growing reputation when he's so close to getting a big-time head coaching job? He wouldn't.

Smart to Georgia isn't going to happen.

Another knee-jerk reaction to Georgia's possible opening would be former Auburn and Georgia defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder. VanGorder was incredibly successful as Georgia's defensive coordinator from 2001 to '04, and his familiarity with the program would be beneficial—especially this late in the recruiting season.

But throwing VanGorder's name into the mix would be just that, a knee-jerk reaction.

His recent resume would be a major cause for concern. In his only season as Auburn's defensive coordinator, his Tigers finished the season as the second-worst defense in the conference after giving up 420.5 yards per game. 

Sure, Auburn was the football equivalent of a tire fire last season, and it was pretty clear that the players and coaches gave up on the season sometime around mid-October. But still, he would still be a big risk.

A more likely candidate to replace Grantham should he leave would be current Bulldog inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti.

Olivadotti has been with Georgia prior to the 2011 season, and was a big reason safety-turned-linebacker Alec Ogletree has made himself a star—and a possible top-15 draft pick, according to ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr.

He has been instrumental in Georgia's game planning under Grantham, and can step in without much disruption of the current recruiting plan or the overall defensive scheme.

If Grantham does jump ship and head to north to Philadelphia, it will be interesting to see how Georgia approaches the situation. Promoting from within is probably the safest option.