University of Georgia

Grantham pulls out of Saints' coordinator search

ATHENS — Todd Grantham isn’t heading back to the NFL. He is returning to Georgia for a fourth season as defensive coordinator.

Grantham announced through Georgia on Friday night that he was withdrawing from consideration for the same job with the New Orleans Saints, after interviewing Thursday.

Whether Grantham did so because he wasn’t going to get the job or because he truly preferred coaching at Georgia doesn’t matter. The uncertainty about the top assistant to head coach Mark Richt is over.

“I want to thank Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints organization for the opportunity to interview and get to know them,” Grantham said in a statement. “They are a first class organization in every respect. As I said Wednesday, Georgia is a great place, my family loves it here, and I do, as well. This is where our heart is, and (on Friday) I have withdrawn my name from consideration for the position with the Saints.

“I’m excited to start preparations for another season and along with the rest of our defensive staff look forward to coaching some really good returning players, as well as developing some very talented newcomers.”

The statement ends nearly a month of speculation about Grantham’s future. Reports emerged awhile ago that the Philadelphia Eagles were interested in Grantham, who spent 11 years as an NFL assistant before coming to Georgia for the 2010 season. The Eagles hired Billy Davis on Thursday, but the Saints needed a defensive coordinator, too.

Grantham’s current and soon-to-be defensive players were following the news the way most everyone else was: through the media. On Friday, before the news broke, freshman linebacker Reggie Carter echoed the line that he came to play for Georgia, not necessarily Grantham.

“I’d prefer to play for him, but that’s his business,” Carter said.

Grantham now returns to coach a unit that loses eight starters and loses nine players good enough to be invited to the NFL combine.

But Grantham expressed optimism on Wednesday about the returning players, as well as the many new recruits.

“I think the guys we’ve got right now have some ability to them,” Grantham said. “I look forward to working with them and winning some ballgames.”