Willie Martinez is back in the Southeastern Conference.
The former Georgia defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator was named Friday as a defensive assistant at Auburn, where he is reuniting with new Tigers defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder. Martinez, who turns 49 next week, spent the past two seasons as Oklahoma's secondary coach.
"Willie Martinez is an experienced coach that has been very successful in this conference and understands the rigors of coaching and recruiting in the SEC," Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said. "We're excited to have him on board and look forward to bringing his knowledge and experience to our staff."
Martinez is filling a vacancy left by Phillip Lolley, who was reassigned earlier this month to an administrative role within the program. He is expected to be the secondary coach, but the assignment has not been announced.
From 2001 to '04, VanGorder was Georgia's defensive coordinator and Martinez was his secondary coach. Georgia had some of college football's stingiest defenses in that stretch, finishing fourth nationally in scoring defense in 2002 and second in '03, and Martinez was elevated to coordinator after the '04 season, when VanGorder left to become linebackers coach of the Jacksonvile Jaguars.
Martinez was Georgia's coordinator from 2005 to December 2009, when he was fired by head coach Mark Richt along with defensive ends coach Jon Fabris and linebackers coach John Jancek.
"This is a great opportunity to be a part of a storied program and tremendous coaching staff here at Auburn," Martinez said. "I've had the pleasure to know Coach Chizik and other members of this staff for a long time, and I share their energy and passion for the game of football and developing young men. I'm appreciative of this opportunity and look forward to helping Auburn win championships in the future."
In his nine seasons at Georgia and two at Oklahoma, Martinez had 15 defensive backs selected in the NFL draft. When the Bulldogs won the 2005 league championship, they had three of the four All-SEC defensive backs -- safety Greg Blue and cornerbacks Tim Jennings and DeMario Minter.
Georgia ranked eighth in scoring defense in 2005 and eighth in total defense in '06, but the Bulldogs allowed 30 or more points five times in each of Martinez's final two seasons in Athens. In the four seasons under VanGorder, Georgia allowed 30 points once -- against '03 BCS champion LSU in the league championship game.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...