What, and who, Georgia football is looking for in next offensive line coach

Georgia football-offensive line coach-replacement
011022 Indianapolis: Georgia head coach Kirby Smart arrives to play Alabama in the College Football Playoff Championship game on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, in Indianapolis. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Georgia is searching for a new offensive line coach after Matt Luke’s sudden resignation. He is the fourth assistant Georgia has had to replace this offseason, yet he might be the most important of the bunch in terms of finding a replacement.

Considering the recruiting dead period ends on March 1 and spring practice begins on March 15, expect Georgia to move quickly its next offensive line coach. And don’t be surprised if Georgia makes a big swing in whoever is hired.

Sam Pittman was the offensive line coach at Arkansas before Kirby Smart snatched him prior to the 2016 season. Luke had just been the head coach at Ole Miss before jumping right into the offensive line position after Pittman had been hired to be the head coach at Arkansas.

Luke was going to be well compensated in 2022, as his contract was set to pay him $900,000. The only Georgia assistant set to make more next season was offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Georgia is willing to pay top dollar for the leader of its offensive line.

This job figures to be an attractive one and Georgia should have a deep pool of candidates to pick from. Given the previous hirings of Luke and Pittman, expect this hire to end with a candidate more like Bryan McClendon than the hires of Chidrea Uzo-Diribie or Fran Brown.

As for what Georgia and Smart are looking for in the offensive line coach, recruiting is always going to come first and foremost. Georgia intends on remaining near the top of the college football food chain and being able to recruit at a high level is a pre-requisite for that.

More specifically though with the offensive line position is that the coach needs to be able to recruit the state of Georgia. The offensive line has produced a number of draft picks under Smart and Andrew Thomas, Trey Hill, Ben Cleveland, Justin Shaffer and Jamaree Salyer all came from the state of Georgia as high school prospects. The 2022 offensive line is also loaded with Georgia prospects such as Broderick Jones, Warren McClendon, Tate Ratledge and Amarius Mims.

Related: 2023 Offensive tackle commit Johnathan ‘Bo’ Hughley shares his thoughts on Georgia after Matt Luke departure

Another quality Georgia is looking for is that the coach likely has some sort of tie to the current coaching staff. McClendon worked with Will Muschamp and Mike Bobo at South Carolina. With a hire this crucial, there’s going to want to be some sort of prior experience with key members of this Georgia staff.

That doesn’t necessarily mean they have to have worked at or gone to Georgia but they do need to have an understanding of what the program is about under Smart. Being a cultural fit for the staff is just as important as it is at the player level.

“I am big on fit,” Smart said about the hiring of McClendon. “Does someone fit the culture we are trying to create? We don’t look at a lot of things that people on the outside world look at. I look at, can they make our staff better, can they make our players better, do they fit our culture.”

As for some candidates who meet those qualifications, below is a list of names who in one way or another check some of the boxes that Georgia is looking for in its next coach.

  • Cody Kennedy -- Arkansas offensive line coach
  • Nick Jones -- Los Angeles Rams assistant
  • Will Friend -- Auburn offensive line coach
  • Eric Wolford -- Alabama offensive line coach
  • Brent Key -- Georgia Tech offensive line coach

Related: What Matt Luke departure means for talented 2022 Georgia offensive line

Whether Georgia ends up hiring one of those names will play out in the coming days. The expectation is for Georgia to move quickly on this hire, as outlined above. It’s undeniably an attractive job and the Bulldogs should be able to entice a high-level candidate to fill Luke’s shoes.

Georgia’s offensive line should be a strength on the 2022 team. If the Bulldogs are going to repeat as National Champions or maintain their standard of excellence, Georgia is going to need to hire the right offensive line coach who can get the most out of the talented position group and continue to keep the proverbial cupboard stocked for years to come.

What, and who, Georgia football is looking for in its next offensive line coach

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