Why Todd Grantham's Departure Is a Good Thing for Georgia

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterJanuary 12, 2014

USA Today

After Alabama tabbed Lane Kiffin as offensive coordinator on Friday, it seemed like college football's silly hiring season had taken its most dramatic turn. 

But with Bobby Petrino back in coaching, you never know what you're going to get.

Petrino threw the offseason another curveball on Sunday, when he hired Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham to run his defense at Louisville, according to ESPN.com's Joe Schad.

Seth Emerson of Macon.com confirmed the report, and provided some comments from Georgia head coach Mark Richt

We are appreciative of all the contributions Todd has made to our program and wish him nothing but the best. But at the same time the opportunity to work at Georgia is extremely attractive and there already is, and will be, interest from some very, very outstanding coaches. We have a lot of defensive players coming back, as well as some outstanding defensive recruits, and there's going to be plenty of interest in coaching them. I'm excited about the prospects of a great defensive coordinator being on board as quickly as possible.

How did Petrino lure Grantham to the Cardinals? Cash. Lots of it, according to Schad.

Todd Grantham will get 5 year guaranteed deal, $1 million per year at Louisville

— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) January 12, 2014

That sound you hear from Athens is a mixture of cheering and astonishment, because if there's a coordinator in the program that actually deserves another job, it's offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, not Grantham.

Louisville defensive coordinator Todd Grantham
Louisville defensive coordinator Todd GranthamKevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

In Grantham's four years as Georgia's defensive coordinator, his defenses finished 23rd, 5th, 32nd and 45th nationally, per CFBstats.com. On paper, that's not bad. But it's certainly not worth $5 million over five years, even in the new age of college football.

Besides, Georgia's defenses have been successful in spite of their coaching, not because of it.

In 2012, with a roster that included John Jenkins, Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree, Shawn Williams, Bacarri Rambo and Sanders Commings, the Bulldogs finished 12th in the SEC in rush defense (182.14 YPG), per CFBstats.com. They looked confused, didn't know where to line up and suffered from blown assignments early and often. 

With that roster, Grantham couldn't put together a consistent defense. That defense was exposed in the second half of the 2012 SEC Championship Game, when Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon ran it down Georgia's throat and prevented the Bulldogs from playing for the BCS National Championship.

This was a common sight for Georgia fans during the 2012 SEC Championship Game.
This was a common sight for Georgia fans during the 2012 SEC Championship Game.USA TODAY Sports

The theme of confusion continued in 2013, and became more pronounced in the secondary as the Bulldogs gave up 227.4 passing yards per game, according to CFBstats.com.

The newcomers looked lost and poorly coached all season long, which culminated with the "Prayer at Jordan-Hare" where, instead of knocking down Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall's heave downfield, safeties Josh Harvey-Clemons and Tray Matthews both went for the interception on the game-defining play.

Losing Grantham is addition by subtraction.

Sure, with only three-and-a-half weeks until national signing day and the dead period ending on Jan. 13, looking for a defensive coordinator isn't exactly how Richt wanted to devote some of his time.

But Georgia is in a win-win situation.

It can either go throw money at a superstar like Alabama defensive coordinator (and former Bulldog) Kirby Smart—who's making $1.35 million in 2014, according to Andrew Gribble of AL.com, or promote a trusted assistant like defensive line coach Chris Wilson or inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti from within.

Any of those guys can, at the very worst, get Georgia to line up properly—which would be immense progress from where its defense was under Grantham.

He was a liability, not a weapon. Now, he's Louisville's problem.