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When will Georgia hire a defensive coordinator?
Mel Tucker was hired as the head coach at Colorado on Dec. 5. That means that as of Wednesday, Georgia will have been searching for a possible defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach for six weeks.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart, who has a large hand in the defense anyway, wants to be thorough with this search. He wants to hire the right guy to make his staff better. But unlike the offensive coordinator and tight end openings, filled respectively by James Coley and Todd Hartley, there wasn’t an obvious candidate to replace Tucker.
Sure, Smart could promote either outside linebackers coach Dan Lanning or inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann to solve the defensive coordinator issue. But that still leaves a hole at the defensive back spot, and Smart is much more likely to entice some of the top defensive back coaches in the country to come to Georgia if he can also give them defensive coordinator responsibilities.
But so far, that hasn’t happened. LSU defensive backs coach Corey Raymond interviewed for the job, but it appears he will stay at LSU. Raymond might actually be the best defensive backs coach in the country, given the talent LSU churns out at the position. But alas, it seems he wants to continue to coach at his alma mater.
It also is worth mentioning Derrick Ansley at this point, someone many would assume that Georgia would be interested in, given his recruiting pedigree and his ties to Alabama and the Nick Saban way of thinking. But despite being “under strong consideration” for the job according to DawgNation’s Mike Griffith, there’s been no mention of interviewing or being interested in the job.
At some point, Georgia is going to have to give answers to potential recruits — such as 4-star defensive backs Kaiir Elam and Nick Cross — as to who their future position coach and defensive coordinator might be. With Elam set to visit this weekend, it would really help the Bulldogs to have a hire in place so that Elam could get a better sense of who he would be playing for, should he attend Georgia. If not, there’s a very good chance Elam will end up playing for the Florida Gators.
So when Georgia fans should start to worry about the lack of a defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach? I would say Monday, because that would likely mean that the ship has sailed on Elam, who is Georgia’s top recruiting target at this point.
Smart has made a number of impressive hires from Sam Pittman to Dell McGee. But his next hire will be the biggest one he’s made yet at Georgia. Hopefully, it comes sooner rather than later.
Ashton Hagans cuts up Georgia basketball
Georgia basketball’s biggest weakness was laid bare on Tuesday night, as the No. 12 Kentucky Wildcats came away with a 69-49 win. The star of the game was Kentucky freshman Ashton Hagans, as the one-time Georgia commit lit up the Bulldogs for a career-high 23 points while also stuffing the stat sheet with 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals.
“He’s a great player, but I wasn’t here,” Georgia coach Tom Crean said of Hagans. “We only made one visit, he never came to Georgia. I’d feel different about it if he didn’t come here and we recruited him for years. He’s a really good player and a league full of good players, an outstanding freshman.”
Hagans was the No. 1 point guard in the 2019 recruiting class, but he reclassified and enrolled early at Kentucky. His performance against the Bulldogs was made more impressive by the fact that he was clearly the target of Georgia fans, who booed him heavily and chanted traitor at Hagans, who hails from Cartersville, Ga. and played his high school basketball at Newton High School in Covington, Ga. He certainly seemed to be fueled by the hate, and he reportedly was blowing kisses to the booing fans.
Personally, I wish Georgia fans hadn’t behaved the way they did on Tuesday. I get why they might that feel that way, but Hagans has made it clear that had Georgia still employed Mark Fox as the program’s coach, he would’ve come to Georgia. But the Bulldogs moved on from Fox in March, and so Hagans did as well. His decision was nothing personal, it was strictly business, as Michael Corleone would say.
I’d also venture to guess that a number of fans who booed Hagans last night also celebrated when the program moved on from Fox. You can’t have it both ways. As DawgNation’s Chip Towers points out, Georgia’s guard play just isn’t good enough right now to compete on the highest level in college basketball.