Bulldogs Beat

Who’s in and who’s out: A look at Georgia’s 2015 and 2016 coaching staffs

Jason Butt


Video: Georgia coach Kirby Smart's introductory news conference

Kirby Smart was officially introduced as Georgia's new head football coach at a news conference Monday, Dec. 7, 2015.
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Kirby Smart was officially introduced as Georgia's new head football coach at a news conference Monday, Dec. 7, 2015.

Kirby Smart has his first-ever staff as a college football head coach. With defensive coordinator Mel Tucker being the final addition to Georgia’s staff, the Bulldogs will be set to get to work once Monday’s national championship game between Alabama — where Smart and Tucker are still coaching at — and Clemson wraps up. Much is different about Smart’s staff — not one offensive coach was retained. Two defensive coaches are coming back, but there’s a new coordinator in charge, and he’ll surely be heavily influenced by Smart. Here’s a look at the outgoing and incoming coaches and what their accomplishments have been so far.

 2015 head coach Mark Richt: Richt is a legend in some circles at Georgia. He had the highest-ever winning percentage (74.0) in program history in 15 seasons. He won 141 career games and put Georgia back on the national map after a downturn in the 1990s. In the end, Richt was fired because he went 10 years without an SEC championship, making the powers that be believe Georgia would never win a national title under his leadership. He quickly landed a job as Miami’s head coach.

 2016 head coach Kirby Smart: Smart might not have head coaching experience, but he does have a great understanding of how to run a program after coaching under Alabama’s Nick Saban for so many years. Smart played defensive back at Georgia from 1995-98 and has a clear understanding of the culture around Athens. He also is inheriting a ton of talent in his first season.

2015 offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brian Schottenheimer: Schottenheimer lived up to his billing, in the sense that his lack of NFL success followed him to the college ranks. Georgia’s offense went from 30th in 2014 under Mike Bobo to 83rd in 2015 under Schottenheimer. After Richt was fired, Schottenheimer elected not to coach in the TaxSlayer bowl.

 2016 offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jim Chaney: Chaney has a lot of experience at the college level, having coached at Wyoming, Purdue, Tennessee, Arkansas and Pittsburgh. He also had an NFL stint with the St. Louis Rams. He’s known for being a versatile coordinator who can run multiple and pro-style sets.

2015 offensive line coach Rob Sale: Sale, like Schottenheimer, only spent one season at Georgia after replacing Will Friend. Despite inheriting four starters from a dominant offensive line in 2014, Sale’s group was inconsistent and needed a rearrangement following a 27-3 loss to Florida. Sale is heading to Louisiana-Monroe.

2016 offensive line coach Sam Pittman: Pittman has earned the reputation of being one of the best offensive line coaches in the nation. He has coached offensive lines at numerous colleges, including Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas.  At Arkansas, his offensive line helped pave the way for two 2,000-yard rushers in 2014. He’s also known as a tenacious recruiter.

2015 receivers coach Bryan McClendon: McClendon spent one season coaching receivers after coaching running backs for six years. A lot of youth littered the position, although McClendon did get a lot out of senior Malcolm Mitchell. McClendon is now South Carolina’s co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach.

2016 receivers coach James Coley: Coley previously was Miami’s offensive coordinator and wasn’t retained by Richt. Coley also has coached at Florida State and has deep recruiting ties to the former state he lived in. Coley and Richt should go head-to-head on the recruiting trail in south Florida quite a bit.

2015 running backs coach Thomas Brown: A standout running back at Georgia, Brown returned to his alma mater to coach his position for just one season. With Nick Chubb going down with a knee injury against Tennessee, Brown still guided Sony Michel to 1,161 yards and eight touchdowns. Smart wanted to retain Brown, but Brown decided to follow Richt and be Miami’s co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach.

2016 running backs coach Dell McGee: McGee has a great reputation for coaching running backs, given what he has been able to do at Georgia Southern with Matt Brieda, Alfred Ramsby and Wesley Fields. With ties to south Georgia, McGee could be able to recruit well in that area, which is typically fertile ground for SEC programs.

2015 tight ends coach John Lilly: Lilly had a great run in eight years with the Bulldogs, coaching tight ends such as Orson Charles, Arthur Lynch and Aron White. Lilly was also a co-special teams coordinator in his final two seasons. He decided not to go to Miami with Richt and is still looking for a job. It’s possible Lilly is hoping to make a leap to the NFL ranks.

2016 tight ends coach Shane Beamer: Beamer was hired primarily to be Georgia’s special teams coordinator and also will handle tight ends as his primary position group. This will be new to Beamer, who never has coached tight ends before. In stops at Mississippi State, South Carolina and Virginia Tech, Beamer has coached defensive backs, linebackers and running backs.

2015 defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Jeremy Pruitt: Pruitt helped turn Georgia’s defense around in a big way after former defensive coordinator Todd Grantham left for Louisville. This season, the Bulldogs rank eighth in total defense (305.9 yards per game) and first in pass defense (156.5). Smart did not retain him, with Pruitt taking over Smart’s old position as Alabama’s defensive coordinator.

 2016 defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Mel Tucker: Tucker has coached in both the college and professional ranks, having been a defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears. His defenses only hit the NFL’s top 10 once, and he was fired by the Bears in 2014. A defensive backs coach at Alabama this year, Tucker also has been an assistant at Michigan State, Miami (Ohio), LSU and Ohio State. Initially reported by FoxSports.com, Georgia has yet to confirm Tucker’s hire.

Tracy Rocker

(UGA/John Kelley)

2015 and 2016 defensive line coach Tracy Rocker: Rocker was a key coach for Smart to bring back, both for his ability to develop defensive linemen and for his recruiting prowess. As an example of his coaching acumen, Rocker helped mold former edge rushers James DeLoach and Sterling Bailey into consistent 3-4 defensive linemen. Rocker is also a talented recruiter, who has a great rapport with the defensive linemen he has brought in.


(UGA/John Kelley)

2015 and 2016 (probable) outside linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer: It’s not a guarantee Sherrer coaches outside linebackers in 2016 but more than likely he’ll stay in the same spot. He has done a great job coaching Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd and will have Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy to work with next season.

2015 inside linebackers coach Mike Ekeler: Ekeler did an outstanding job coaching up the inside linebackers, which saw Jake Ganus go from a third-string transfer in the spring to an every-game starter winning the team’s MVP award. Ekeler aided Lilly as Georgia’s co-special teams coordinator as well. Ekeler left to become the defensive coordinator at North Texas.

Possible 2016 inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann: Smart’s “right-hand man” at Alabama, Schumann’s role hasn’t been announced. But assuming Sherrer sticks with coaching outside linebackers, it’s easy to surmise Schumann will coach inside linebackers. Schumann held a player development/player personnel title at Alabama.