published Monday, January 13th, 2014

Georgia defensive coordinator Grantham leaves for Louisville

Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Grantham and coach Mark Richt talk before a 2011 game at Sanford Stadium.
Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Grantham and coach Mark Richt talk before a 2011 game at Sanford Stadium.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Georgia football coach Mark Richt has gone shopping for his fourth defensive coordinator.

Todd Grantham, who spent the past four seasons with the Bulldogs, left Sunday to become defensive coordinator at Louisville under new coach Bobby Petrino. ESPN reported that Grantham will be making $1 million annually with the Cardinals, who are moving into the Atlantic Coast Conference.

"We are appreciative of all the contributions Todd has made to our program and wish him nothing but the best," Richt said Sunday afternoon through a statement. "At the same time, the opportunity to work at Georgia is extremely attractive, and there already is, and will be, interest from some very, very outstanding coaches. We have a lot of defensive players coming back, as well as some outstanding defensive recruits, and there is going to be plenty of interest in coaching them."

Louisville had not announced Grantham's hiring as of Sunday evening.

Grantham had spent 11 seasons in the NFL when he was hired by Richt in January 2010. He made $750,000 each of his first two seasons before receiving a raise to $825,000 on the heels of Georgia's 2011 defense finishing fifth nationally with 277.2 yards allowed per game.

After a 2012 season in which the Bulldogs finished 12-2 and won a second consecutive Southeastern Conference East Division championship, Grantham had his salary hiked to $850,000.

Georgia struggled defensively late in the 2012 season, allowing 589 combined rushing yards to Alabama in the SEC championship and Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl. The Bulldogs then lost 12 players who made multiple starts from that defense, including linebackers Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree and nose tackle Kwame Geathers, who elected to forego their senior seasons.

Youth and inconsistency plagued Georgia's defense this past season, as the Bulldogs allowed 30 or more points a program-record eight times. They also set records by allowing 377 points, shattering the 337 allowed by the 2009 team, and 29.0 points per game, eclipsing the 26.6 produced by the 1990 team.

Georgia's 375.5 yards allowed per game were the most since the 1999 Bulldogs and were nearly 100 yards a game more than Grantham's 2011 unit. The Bulldogs have 10 of 11 defensive starters back next season, with the only loss being lineman Garrison Smith.

CBS reported Sunday that Georgia already had contacted Houston defensive coordinator David Gibbs, who was Auburn's defensive coordinator and secondary coach in 2005. He is the son of Alex Gibbs, who was Georgia's offensive line coach in 1982 and '83 and was Denver's line coach when the Broncos won consecutive Super Bowls with quarterback John Elway.

The Bulldogs could again reach out to Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, a former Georgia safety who turned down his alma mater before Richt turned to Grantham. Among the potential wild-card candidates could be Clancy Pendergast, who led Southern California to the top-rated defense in the Pac-12 this past season but was not retained by new Trojans coach Steve Sarkisian.

"I'm excited about the prospects of a great defensive coordinator being on board as quickly as possible," Richt said.

Grantham's four seasons wound up matching the tenure of Brian VanGorder, Richt's first defensive coordinator who held that role from 2001 to '04. VanGorder left after the '04 season to become linebackers coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars and was replaced by Willie Martinez, the secondary coach who held the coordinator position for five seasons before getting fired in December 2009.

Georgia currently has two vacancies on its staff, with secondary coach Scott Lakatos having announced his resignation last week for personal reasons.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

about David Paschall...

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 ...

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