ATHENS - It took Mark Richt less than 48 hours to replace Todd Grantham. It almost certainly will take longer to replace Mike Bobo.
Part of that is timing: Grantham, the defensive coordinator, bolted for the same job at Louisville a few days after Georgia's bowl game, the official end of the season. So Richt was able to move quickly to hire Jeremy Pruitt away from Florida State.
This time, Bobo is leaving three days before Christmas, and two days before the Bulldogs report to Charlotte for Belk Bowl practice. (Where they will play Grantham and Louisville.) The holiday season and the need to practice will make it harder for Richt to sift through candidates.
The quick way to settle Bobo's replacement would be to promote a current offensive assistant. The problem is choosing which one. None have play-calling experience, but each has a good track record, and if they were overlooked could be plucked away by Bobo, or another program:
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- Running backs coach Bryan McClendon, who turns 31 on Sunday, has emerged as one of the strongest recruiters in the Southeast. He was named the national running backs coach of the year by Footballscoop.com on Monday. And as a former Georgia receiver, he has experience in the passing and running game.
- Offensive line coach Will Friend, a close friend of Bobo and Pruitt, has been with the staff since 2011. He was named the running game coordinator before the 2013 season, and his offensive line unit was very good this season.
- Receivers coach Tony Ball, 55, has been on Georgia's staff since 2006, serving as running backs coach for three seasons before moving over to coach receivers. Like McClendon, he offers experience in both the passing and running games.
- Tight ends coach John Lilly, who has been with the staff since 2008, worked with Richt when both were at Florida State in the 1990s. Lilly has also been a strong recruiter, and was named the team's co-special teams coordinator prior to this season.
Should Richt look outside the program, there are several free agent offensive coordinators available. That includes Doug Nussmeier, former offensive coordinator at Alabama and Michigan, and Kurt Roper, who was at Florida this past season.
But considering the returning talent on offense, and the recruiting base, the offensive coordinator job would be very attractive to coaches who currently have jobs. So if he doesn't hire from within, Richt should have plenty of candidates to sift through.