ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart decided to promote from within and with budget in mind rather than make a splashy or expensive outside hire.
Smart tabbed Dan Lanning as the Bulldogs new defensive coordinator on Friday, a move that was foreshadowed as far back as the Sugar Bowl.
Lanning, 32, served as Georgia’s outside linebackers coach last season on his first season on staff.
Smart hired Lanning away from Memphis to replace Kevin Sherrer, who left the Bulldogs to accept the defensive coordinator title at Tennessee.
Sherrer was demoted at Tennessee on Friday, losing his defensive coordinator title to new Vols DC Derrick Ansley, who has a three-year deal worth $1 million annually. Sherrer is now the special teams and inside linebackers coach at UT.
Former Georgia DC Mel Tucker was making $1.5 million a year when he vacated the UGA staff on Dec. 5 to take over as Colorado head coach.
Lanning will make half what the much more experienced Tucker was making, just $750,000 a year according to new contract deals released by the school on Friday. Lanning made $325,000 last season.
Smart hired Charlton Warren away from Florida to become the Bulldogs secondary coach on Jan. 19, bringing the Georgia staff back up to its maximum of 10 assistant coaches.
Smart, however, did not name a defensive coordinator at that time, leading to a great deal of speculation.
Smart has not done any interviews with the media since Dec. 30, taking the unusual and unprecedented step of skipping a signing day press conference earlier this month.
The first clue that Lanning could be the choice came in the days leading up to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, when Smart tabbed Lanning to speak in the press conference slot designated for the defensive coordinator.
“It’s the Georgia defensive coordinator job, there’s a ton of interest in that job, we’re going to be able to attract a lot of great candidates for that position,” Lanning said last December. “We have a lot of great people on staff and in house,
Lanning coached the Memphis inside linebackers and was the Tigers’ recruiting coordinator in 2016 and 2017.
Prior to the Memphis job, Lanning served as a graduate assistant in 2015 on an Alabama coaching staff that featured Smart as the defensive coordinator and Tucker as the secondary coach.
Current UGA inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann was part of the Tide program in 2015, too, working as the director of player development & associate director of player personnel.
Schumann was elevated to co-defensive coordinator on Friday and received a raise up to $550,000 from $325,000.
Lanning played his college football at William Jewel College, a linebacker at the school in Liberty, Mo. His first coaching stop was as the secondary and wide receivers — and special teams coordinator — at Park Hill High School in Riverside, Mo.
Lanning’s first college job was a graduate assistant position at Pitt in 2011.
UPDATED GEORGIA FOOTBALL SALARIES
- James Coley: Offensive Coordinator / QB Coach $950,000
- Sam Pittman: Associate Head Coach / OL Coach $900,000
- Dell McGee: Run Game Coordinator / RB Coach $650,000
- Cortez Hankton: Pass Game Coordinator / WR Coach $550,000
- Todd Hartley: TE Coach $300,000
- Dan Lanning: Defensive Coordinator / OLB Coach $750,000
- Glenn Schumann: Co-Defensive Coordinator / ILB Coach $550,000
- Charlton Warren: DB Coach $600,000
- Tray Scott: DL Coach $470,000
- Scott Fountain: Special Teams Coordinator $325,000