ATHENS - Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham will return in 2014 as long as he doesn't take a job elsewhere, head coach Mark Richt confirmed on Sunday night.
Grantham is wrapping up his fourth year at Georgia, and his young defense struggled for much of the season. But Richt does not want to overhaul the defensive staff.
"Yeah. Everybody should be back," Richt said, when specifically asked whether Grantham will be retained. "I mean everybody's gotta do what they've gotta do, as far as if they have opportunities and all that kind of thing. But we've got some things we've certainly got to get better at.
"But the continuity is a good thing for Georgia."
Georgia finished the regular season ranked seventh in the SEC in total defense, and has already set a record for the most points given up in school history. But it is set to lose just one senior starter, and hopes to be buoyed by the experience gained this season.
"First of all, we had a young bunch. A lot of inexperience on that side of the ball," Richt said. "The experiences that everybody went through is positive. Everybody's gotta improve. Everybody's gotta improve all the way around. There's a lot of areas that we all need to improve on. But I think that we've got the right group of guys, and we've got the right staff. We've gotta make sure that we take care of business as far as improving, maturing, and keeping that continuity."
Grantham, speaking after Saturday's win over Georgia Tech, talked optimistically about next season. He interviewed after last season with the New Orleans Saints, but failing a return to the NFL, where he coached for 11 years, he is set to return to Georgia for a fifth season.
Grantham will be entering the final year of his contract, which pays him $850,000 per season, the most of any of Richt's assistants. The three-year contract was signed after the 2011 season, when the Bulldogs had the nation's fifth-ranked defense.
But the defense regressed last year, despite returning almost every starter. This year the defense returned only four starters, but had a good group of four- and five-star recruits. The pass defense ended up being the main issue, thanks in large part to a secondary that saw seven different starting lineup combinations.
Since the beginning of the 2011 season, Richt has had only one of his nine assistant coaches leave: Defensive line coach Rodney Garner went to Auburn, his alma mater, after last season.