ATHENS — When Georgia went searching for a new offensive coordinator, head coach Mark Richt made clear he wanted to keep the team’s pro-style offense. He didn’t say that meant actually turning to the pros, but that’s what has happened.
And it’s a well-known NFL name, with ties to the SEC.
Brian Schottenheimer, who has coached the St. Louis offense for three seasons and the New York Jets’ offense the previous six seasons, is Georgia’s new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Georgia announced the news Wednesday.
While Schottenheiemer, the son of longtime NFL head coach Marty Schottenheimer, has never coached in the SEC, he is well acquainted with the conference. He played at Florida from 1994-96, where Steve Spurrier was his head coach. Now he will coach against both Spurrier, now at South Carolina, and Florida.
“This is a great opportunity to become a Georgia Bulldog for both my career and my family,” Schottenheimer said in a statement. “I’m thrilled to be part of an elite program with such national tradition and a great staff already in place. I look forward to working with young men and being a positive and significant influence on their lives as we develop them athletically, academically and socially.”
Schottenheimer, 41, replaces Mike Bobo, who left Dec. 22 to become the head coach at Colorado State. He took with him offensive line coach Will Friend, and no replacement has been named for Friend yet.
But one clue is that Schottenheimer’s statement refers to joining “a great staff already in place.” That doesn’t automatically mean that the three other offensive assistants — Bryan McClendon (running backs), John Lilly (tight ends) and Tony Ball (receivers) — are definitely sticking around. But it’s clear that Georgia has valued them. McClendon is also the team’s recruiting coordinator, and Lilly is the co-special teams coordinator.
Lilly, who called plays for Georgia in its 37-14 win in the Belk Bowl, welcomed Schottenheiemer via tweet Wednesday afternoon: “Every day is a great day to be a Dawg but some are even better than others. Excited to welcome Brian Schottenheimer to the Dawg Nation!”
McClendon also welcomed Schottenheimer to the fold via Twitter: “It’s great when the Dawgs are trending! Welcome Coach Brian Schottenheimer to the family. Another big commitment to the G!”
It wasn’t clear whether Lilly interviewed for the position. The only other person confirmed to have interviewed was Kurt Roper, who was Florida’s offensive coordinator this past season. There was a lot of talk about Stanford offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren, but it has not been confirmed by The Telegraph that he officially spoke to Georgia.
Richt said last week that Georgia’s offense is not going to change much schematically. That means using a pro-style offense as the base, which Schottenheimer has run in the NFL.
“I’m excited to have Brian join our coaching staff,” Richt said in a statement. “His NFL experience will be a perfect fit for how we like to play offensive football here at Georgia. He’ll be excellent in developing our players in both the running and passing games which will benefit them while they are at Georgia and for their future.”
Going by statistics, Schottenheimer has at best a mixed record, especially the past couple of years. St. Louis ranked 28th in the NFL this season in total offense, although starting quarterback Sam Bradford missed the entire year after tearing an ACL injury during the preseason.
The Rams were 30th in total offense in 2013, when they also lost Bradford, who tore his ACL in Week 7. They were 23rd in 2012, the only full season that Schottenheiemer had Bradford. Schottenheimer’s time with the Jets saw more success. They were 11th in total yards in 2010 and first in rushing yards. The Jets reached the AFC championship game in 2010 and 2011.
Schottenheimer was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Jets from 2006-11, and prior to that he served as quarterbacks coach with the San Diego Chargers (2002-05) and Washington Redskins (2001).
Schottenheiemer also coached at the college level at California (tight ends coach in 2000) and Syracuse (receivers coach in 1999). He began his coaching career in 1997 with the Rams.
A native of Denver, Colorado, Schottenheimer was a high school quarterback in Kansas, leading his team to the state championship as a senior.
Georgia’s news release touted that Schottenheiemer has coached Drew Brees and Phillip Rivers (with the Chargers), Brett Favre and Mark Sanchez (Jets) and Bradford.