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I’ve been thinking a lot over the past couple of months about the future of our defensive coordinator position. I’m of the belief that Mel Tucker will be lured away for a head coaching job sooner rather than later, maybe after this coming season. What are the chances that Glenn Schumann is being molded by both Tucker and Kirby Smart to take on the DC job once Tucker decides to move on? I honestly think with the hype around him as a “players coach” and his recruiting prowess that he could flourish in the defensive coordinator position. Obviously he lacks experience in that specific role, but would that stop Kirby from trusting him with the job? Do you think that is a possibility? Or do you think leadership would opt for a more proven, big-name assistant? I’m curious to hear your take on this.
— Ryan Shephard
File this under good problems to have to think about. When you win, other teams want your coaches, as Georgia saw this offseason when Tennessee gave Kevin Sherrer a promotion to defensive coordinator, Oklahoma gave Shane Beamer an assistant head coach title, and Mississippi State poached away special teams quality-control analyst Scott Fountain – before Georgia poached Fountain right back when it had an opening.
Other Georgia assistants also had some nibbles, including Tucker, but Smart and UGA did what was needed to keep him, including that massive raise from $900,000 to $1.5 million. And when you’re earning that kind of money, and you like your job and where you live, you’re not in a hurry to leave.
So perhaps the question you ask, Ryan, won’t need to be answered next year. Or perhaps it could. But the question of who would be the heir apparent probably depends on when the opening occurs.
Sherrer, given his experience, might have been the most likely choice if it happened this year, but he’s off to Knoxville. None of the three current assistants – Schumann, Tray Scott and Dan Lanning – have experience at defensive coordinator. Then again, neither did Smart when he was named to the position by Nick Saban at Alabama after the 2007 season. When the head coach has that kind of defensive background, a coach can get his feet wet on a big stage. (Well, Smart did have that one year as the defensive coordinator at Valdosta State in 2001. And the Blazers were pretty good that one year, even if it was Division II.)
Everything, or almost everything, depends on timing. Not just the experience on your staff, but who’s available. When Smart left Alabama, Saban had good choices on his staff, including Tosh Lupoi, but zeroed in right away on Jeremy Pruitt, who had experience at Alabama, had worked for Saban and happened to be available. When Pruitt left after last season, Saban promoted Lupoi.
What about Schumann? He’s been at Smart’s side for a while now, going back to the Alabama days, when Schumann was in an off-field role. There’s no doubt that Schumann, the inside linebackers coach, is working toward becoming a defensive coordinator – and possibly more – someday, but there’s not a huge rush. He still hasn’t turned 30. In the meantime, he’s an excellent recruiter and, to use the term Smart likes to use, an asset to the staff.
As is Mel Tucker.
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