3 things: What’s next for Georgia football and ever-patient Kirby Smart?
ATHENS — If “Genius is patience,” as Isaac Newton once suggested, Georgia football coach Kirby Smart’s I.Q. must be off the charts.
Smart has exhibited a deliberate approach at each turn in his young career, from not naming a starting quarterback during the 2018 offseason, to holding off on naming a defensive coordinator.
Could there be more staff changes ahead? Perhaps, though it wouldn’t seem likely.
The 43-year-old Smart named 41-year-old Charlton Warren his defensive backs coach on Saturday, shortly after crossing paths with him on the recruiting trail and conversing.
Warren’s hire comes more than six weeks after Colorado announced former UGA secondary coach and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker as its new head coach (Dec. 5).
Some speculated Smart would elevate 32-year-old outside linebackers coach Dan Lanning or 28-year-old inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann to defensive coordinator — or both, in a co-coordinator role.
Here are three things that are next for Georgia football:
It’s going to be Smart’s system on defense, regardless who gets the coordinator title, so the key here is how the staff chemistry shakes out with Warren added to the defensive meeting room.
Lanning said in New Orleans that there could be an internal promotion to the coordinator position, but also, that Georgia would see how things shook out against Texas in the Sugar Bowl.
Obviously, the Bulldogs didn’t fare well without Deandre Baker in the secondary, D’Andre Walker at linebacker and Jordan Davis on the defensive line.
It’s hard to know how much of the defensive dropoff had to do with Tucker’s absence versus the team’s motivation after its gut-wrenching loss in the SEC title game and exclusion from the CFB playoff.
It wouldn’t be surprising if Smart made the decision on his DC immediately.
But it is also possible the Georgia head coach will wait until after signing day (Feb. 6), or even spring drills to name the defensive coordinator, after he gets a better feel for the chemistry and ability in the room.
James Coley confirmation
Coley’s promotion to play caller and full-fledged offensive coordinator from co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach wasn’t surprising.
It was, however, second-guessed by outsiders overlooking Coley’s experience as Jimbo Fisher’s offensive coordinator at Florida State and his work as Miami’s coordinator.
Coley’s stock recently shot up, however, when NFL.com analyst Ian Rapoport reported last Friday that the Dallas Cowboys could consider Coley for their offensive coordinator position.
As the #Cowboys dig into possible replacements for embattled OC Scott Linehan, they have one on their current staff — TE coach Doug Nussmeier — and may look to the college game to better utilize Dak Prescott’s talents. UGA OC James Coley will receive some consideration there.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 18, 2019
A FOIA request for Coley’s new contract last week revealed that he doesn’t yet have one, leaving room for speculation that need soon be answered.
Is Coley staying, or might he be headed for the NFL?
Big staff raises
The bottom line for the Georgia football coaching staff is there is plenty of money available for raises and the new hires.
So far, the Bulldogs’ offensive staff has traded Jim Chaney’s $950,000 salary for new tight ends coach Todd Hartley’s first-year deal of $300,000.
The defense, meanwhile, has the $1.5 million Tucker was making to spread around.
Warren was due to make $401,500 at Florida next season, per the USA Today salary database, but he’s sure to get a healthy boost at Georgia.
Bulldogs defensive line coach Tray Scott has earned a raise up from $420,000, with Georgia’s defensive line showing more improvement than perhaps any other position group last season.
Certainly, linebackers coaches Schumann and Lanning — both previously making $325,000 — will have deals worth more than a half-million annually next season.
It’s more math for Smart to do, more pieces of the puzzle, and if the Georgia head coach has proven anything his first three seasons, it’s that he’’ll take his time to make sure he gets things right.
Georgia football coaches 2018 annual salaries
DC, secondary: Mel Tucker $1.5 million
Defensive line: Tray Scott $420,000
Inside linebackers: Glenn Schumann $325,000
Outside linebackers: Dan Lanning $325,000
Special teams Scott Fountain $300,000
* Charlton Warren, new coach was due $401,500 at Florida in 2019
OC, tight ends: Jim Chaney $950,000
Offensive line: Sam Pittman $825,00
Quarterbacks, Co-OC James Coley, $850,00
Running backs: Dell McGee $550,000
Receivers Cortez Hankton $375,000
* Todd Hartley, new tight ends coach, will make $300,000 in 2019 at UGA