Georgia’s staff continuity could take a hit

semerson@macon.comNovember 21, 2012 

ATHENS -- Mark Richt calls it a “hideaway.” Most other people call it a staff retreat. Whatever the name, before each season the Georgia head coach gathers his assistants for what, given the nature of turnover in the profession, is usually a way for everyone to learn the Georgia way.

But it was different before this season. Richt had all of his assistants back.

“When you have new coaches or new staff, there’s a learning curve there,” Richt said this week. “Sometimes you have to take a lot more time to explain the Georgia way, (but) this year we got it done in the shortest amount of time since I’ve probably been around here because everybody pretty much knows what to do.”

That continuity, according to Richt, has been an underrated asset for a team that is 10-1, ranked third in the country and two wins away from a spot in the national championship game.

The downside of success, of course, is that coaches get scooped up by other programs. So as the Bulldogs head in for their final home game, it might be fair to wonder whether it might be the Sanford Stadium hoorah for its coordinators.

In the case of Mike Bobo, the offensive coordinator, it’s quite the turnabout. Now in his sixth full season as the play-caller, Bobo has often been the source of criticism for what has been perceived as conservative play-calling.

But this year Bobo has opened it up, and Georgia’s offense has been explosive and balanced. The team ranks third in the SEC in yards and scoring, quarterback Aaron Murray leads the nation in pass efficiency, and freshman Todd Gurley is the SEC’s leading rusher among tailbacks.

Murray, who is tight with Bobo after four years together in the quarterback meeting room, doesn’t think Bobo is going anywhere. on Wednesday, Bobo was named one of the semifinalists for the Broyles Award, which goes to the nation's top assistant coach.

“People have always asked me if I thought coach, if he had the chance to leave would he. I don’t think he would,” Murray said. “Just because he’s a Georgia boy. He’s grown up here. He went to the University of Georgia. I think this is his dream job. I think he loves being offensive coordinator. I think he loves being at the University of Georgia. And like I said he has a bunch of little kids, he’s close to his family, and I think he wants to raise his kids here in Georgia. And I think he’s happy. So I don’t see him leaving anytime soon at all.”

Bobo laughed when told what Murray said.

“My wife’s dream,” Bobo said with a laugh.

Then he said what most coaches are expected to at this time of the season.

“Georgia’s a great place,” he said. “Right now I’m focused on this season. The only thing you can work hard on is the job you’ve got, and the rest of that stuff just takes care of itself. I don’t really worry about it to be honest. Truthfully.”

Todd Grantham, on the other hand, is not a Georgia graduate. He grew up in Virginia and played at Virginia Tech, then spent 11 years as an assistant in the NFL. Now he’s in his third year as Georgia’s defensive coordinator.

After last season, when Grantham guided Georgia’s defense to top-five status in the nation, at least statistically, he was rewarded with a contract extension. He now earns $825,000 per year.

Grantham has been open about wanting to be a head coach eventually, and his past would indicate that the NFL could come calling for a defensive coordinator’s job.

Grantham was asked this week if coming back to the college level has been what he expected.

“It has. It’s one that you always felt had a lot of potential. And anytime you can be somewhere where you feel like you can be a part of making something successful and winning and doing those things, it’s fun,” he said. “We’ve really been able to stay the course, and right the ship a little bit, and get it back to where it needed to be. That part’s been fun. The other part is watching the changing behavior and thought processes of the players and those guys that are gonna be walking out there on Saturday.”

But similar to Bobo, one of Grantham’s players think his coach could be around awhile. Senior Christian Robinson knows the coaching business, because his father is a high school coach and Robinson plans to pursue it, too. And in Grantham, Robinson sees somebody who is happy in his current role.

“You just see the way he works in his office with the other coaches. I think he just loves being a defensive coordinator so much right now,” Robinson said. “It’s just the way he works. I think maybe long-term (Grantham will be a head coach), but at this point he’s just so competitive being a defensive coordinator. When you go out and beat somebody -- everybody sees him fist-pumping on the sideline, throwing boards sometimes. ... I think he just is able to coach wide open and not hold back, and I think he really loves that part of it.”

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