Grantham marches to Saints interview

semerson@macon.comFebruary 7, 2013 

ATHENS -- Todd Grantham spent Thursday interviewing with the New Orleans Saints and a potential job with that NFL team is apparently the only danger now that Georgia will lose its defensive coordinator.

For the past few weeks, the job that Grantham had most been linked to was with the Philadelphia Eagles. But on Thursday that team hired someone else, Billy Davis, according to numerous reports.

But on the Saints front, Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity confirmed through a spokesman Thursday morning that Grantham was in talks with that team.

“In accordance with his contractual obligation, Todd Grantham notified me Wednesday night of the New Orleans Saints’ interest in interviewing him for the defensive coordinator position,” McGarity said.

Grantham’s contract requires him to notify McGarity of any substantive discussions about another job. Grantham said Wednesday afternoon that “nothing has come up” that would require him to contractually say something. But then he apparently did notify McGarity on Wednesday night.

The Saints later confirmed to the Associated Press that Grantham interviewed on Thursday.

It appears that Grantham waited until after National Signing Day, which was Wednesday, to speak with the Saints or the Eagles. The NFL Network reported Wednesday that the Eagles tried “at least twice” to set up an interview with Grantham during the past couple weeks, but the timing wasn’t right.

The Eagles chose to hire someone else. The Saints might hire Grantham, or Rob Ryan, the former Dallas defensive coordinator reportedly set to interview Friday.

Several of Georgia’s early enrollees on the defensive side of the ball said Thursday that they were finding out the Grantham news the way most everyone else was: Through the media.

“I came here to play for Georgia. But whatever Coach Grantham’s got going on, that’s between him and that team,” defensive back Reggie Wilkerson said. “I’d love for him to come back, but whether he stays, that’s just up to him.”

“Whatever he does choose, I wish him the best of luck. I hope he does stay though,” safety Quincy Mauger said.

Nose tackle Chris Mayes echoed the line about coming to play for Georgia.

“It’d be sad to lose him, but you gotta move on,” Mayes said. “It’s like a business, so you know coaches change. I came here for the school from the beginning. That’s why I kept my commitment, just stayed faithful to my school.”

On Wednesday, Grantham said he couldn’t say when there will be any finality to the situation.

“To me, there’s nothing to discuss. And I feel like I need to discuss something, I have a great relationship with Coach (Mark) Richt, and Greg, and I would definitely do that,” Grantham said.

Grantham just finished his third season as Georgia’s defensive coordinator after 11 years in the NFL as an assistant. He took over a Georgia defense that had slipped under former defensive coordinator Willie Martinez. Grantham installed his 3-4 system, and, after an up-and-down opening season, the Bulldogs became the nation’s fifth-best defense, according to total yardage in 2011.

This past season the defense slipped back, struggling for the first half of the season and in the second half of the SEC championship. And that was with a talent-stacked defense, as reflected by the fact that nine defensive players have been invited to the NFL combine.

But Grantham, who has two years left on his contract with Georgia, is still a desired commodity in his old NFL stomping grounds.

“I have a good job. And I think as jobs go in general, like in your all’s profession, when there’s inquiries about jobs, you can say is it something you’re interested in, sometimes off a phone call,” Grantham said. “Sometimes it may take a little bit more than that.”

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