ATHENS — Georgia knows it will be looking for a new defensive backs coach, with Fran Brown accepting the Syracuse head coaching job.
But head coach Kirby Smart made it clear that any focus on what comes next for Brown starts after Saturday’s game against the Alabama Crimson Tide
“We’ve been really focused on Alabama,” Smart said. “I mean, that’s all we’re really thinking about that. I mean, those decisions that you’re talking about, they’re not important, right? They have no relevance whatsoever to this game. Our focus and energy is on this game. I mean, I really don’t have to decide that right now and don’t even look to.”
Brown has spent the past two seasons as Georgia’s defensive backs coach, working primarily with the cornerbacks. This is the fourth time an assistant from Smart’s staff has been hired to become a head coach. In 2018, Colorado hired Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker to become its head coach prior to the SEC championship game. But Sam Pittman and Dan Lanning were both hired after the SEC championship game.
Smart did reiterate he was thrilled for Brown to have earned this opportunity.
“What’s newsworthy is he got a hell of an opportunity and he’s done a tremendous job for us and we’re super happy for his family and for Syracuse to be getting someone of his character,” Smart said. “But we’re not worried about anything past Alabama.”
Georgia’s defensive backs echoed what Smart said when speaking earlier in the week.
“They’re getting a tremendous coach but more so a tremendous person,” Georgia safety Javon Bullard said. “I mean, Coach Brown, he’s a great coach, but I feel like what makes Coach Fran so special is, like, his relationship with us outside of football. You know, we connect on a personal level. He’s been there with me through spiritual advice, emotional advice.”
Bullard also pointed out that dealing with coaching turnover is nothing new for Georgia. Lanning was hired by Oregon during the run-up to the 2021 College Football Playoff. Lanning remained on staff to finish out the season, which ended with a championship for the Bulldogs. Georgia did not make the playoff when Tucker and Pittman were hired and both left after the SEC championship game.
Smart, Brown and Georgia know they’ll have their hands full in trying to slow the Alabama passing offense. Wide receivers Jermaine Burton and Isaiah Bond both had touchdown catches in the win over Auburn last week. Georgia is likely to be without cornerback Julian Humphrey this week, as he continues to deal with an upper-body injury.
Georgia’s game against Alabama is set for a 4 p.m. ET kickoff on Saturday. Brown will be introduced as Syracuse’s head coach on Monday morning at 10 a.m.