There is not a pair of coaches on the same staff in all of college football more opposite than Mark Richt and Todd Grantham. However, they are perfect for each other and the University of Georgia is the beneficiary.
Mark Richt has always been known as a calm and reserved coach. While he does have his moments, his approach is more strategic than emotional. While some look at this as a weaker approach, that could not be further from the truth.
It is Coach Richt’s calm demeanor that made his teams so good on the road early in his career. He never gets too wound up and for this reason his players do not freak out if they are down in a game and the clock is against them.
This is a tremendous tool for an experienced coach. However, at the same time, each football team needs a coach who will strike fear into their hearts. A coach whom they fear so much that they give their full effort at all times.
The relaxed coach keeps his players calm and the emotional coach keeps his players in line.
After the departure of Brian Van Gorder as defensive coordinator in 2005, the team began to become lax in the area of discipline. The team was still winning but it was based off of talent and Richt’s game preparation ability.
After an 8-5 season, Coach Richt was aware that the current staff was not going to get this team to the next level. He made the hardest decision of his coaching career and fired good friend and defensive coordinator Willie Martinez.
The Bulldogs began the search process. People outside of the program begin hearing names that Georgia had inquired about. Rumors would swirl that offers were made but it simply was not true. Richt was feeling the pressure to go after Alabama defensive coordinator and Georgia alumni Kirby Smart.
Bleacher Report will rightfully not allow me tell you the whole story of why this deal fell through because I cannot link it. So we will just leave it at that, it did not work out.
The Bulldogs then singled out then Dallas Cowboys defensive line coach Todd Grantham. He was hired just a few days later.
Grantham is the complete opposite of Richt. Although both coaches are great at what they do, Grantham’s approach is much more ferocious. He is a great teacher of the game but once he feels you should have learned the information and fallen short of your duties, your ears will be ringing and jersey covered in his spit from yelling.
The combination of Richt and Grantham is perfect because they complement each other. Grantham will tear you down and Richt will build you back up.
The transition was not easy. With the Grantham addition the team was not used to his style of leadership. The results were up and down for the defense and a disaster for the team as a whole in their first season together as the Bulldogs finished 6-7.
The hot seat talk heated up and criticism grew. However, Richt knew the team was on the right track. He stayed the course after an 0-2 start and now the team is 10-2 and one win away from the SEC championship.
Richt is not the only one who is benefiting from this relationship. Grantham is one of the best X's and O's coaches in the nation. However, he is somewhat of a hot head. Richt is helping him learn to have that same fire but without burning the whole city down.
They’re truly an odd couple but they are working together like gold. Richt gives Grantham his space and the liberty to do his job. In return, Grantham is giving him one of the top defenses in the nation in year two.
The future is bright for this odd couple. I would advise the UGA administration to pay Grantham like a head coach so this team can bring home the Bulldogs first national championship in 32 years next season.