ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart has promoted James Coley to offensive coordinator.
Coley was already serving as the Bulldogs’ co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach this past season. Coley was considered the front-runner for the job since Jim Chaney’s abrupt departure became official on Tuesday.
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Coley, 45, has been on the Georgia football staff since Smart took over as head coach in 2016, spending his first two seasons as the receivers coach.
“James has been an critical part of our staff since we came to Georgia,” Smart said in a UGA release. “He’s done an incredible job in all aspects of his responsibilities including coaching wide receivers for two years, serving as co-offensive coordinator this past season coaching the quarterbacks, and recruiting.
“James has extensive coordinator experience during his entire coaching career and will transition easily into his new role.”
Georgia still has two openings on its staff, for a defensive coordinator and a tight ends coach.
Smart talked with Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran about the position coach opening before Gran was extended with the Wildcats on Thursday.
RELATED: Georgia didn’t offer OC position to Kentucky assistant
Meanwhile, the names continue to swirl in the search to replace Mel Tucker.
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Tucker, who coached the secondary in addition to coordinator duties the past three seasons, left the Bulldogs following the SEC Championship Game to become Colorado’s head coach.
Georgia linebackers coaches Dan Lanning (32 years old) and Glenn Schuman (28) have been discussed a great deal regarding the vacant defensive coordinator post.
Lanning was selected to represent the Bulldogs in the “defensive coordinator” media slot during the Sugar Bowl interview sessions.
Lanning shared some insight into the coordinator opening, making it clear there were internal candidates for the position.
Some have speculated Smart might go the route of naming co-defensive coordinators at Georgia.
Oakland Raiders secondary coach Derrick Ansley is another name that has been under consideration.
Coley had a major impact on Jake Fromm’s improvement from his first season to his second season, ranking fifth in the nation in passing efficiency in 2018.
Chaney had much to do with that as well, but the former offensive coordinator wasn’t able to utilize former backup Justin Fields well enough to prevented the gifted freshman from transferring to Ohio State.
RELATED: Jim Chaney says he ‘did right’ handling Justin Fields
“It’s been tough, there’s no question about that,” Chaney said. “It’s challenging any time you have good, quality depth regardless of what position it is, you’re trying to find a way to get good players on the field.”
Coley is expected to open up the offense more next season, with Fromm back for his junior season.
Georgia’s new offensive coordinator knows better than anyone what the Bulldogs have to work with at receiver, and his experience coaching the position is a huge plus.
Georgia turned out a pair of NFL draft picks in Isaiah McKenzie and Javon Wims when Coley was coaching receivers in 2016 and 2017.
Prior to being hired by Smart Coley was the offensive coordinator and QB coach at Miami (2013), and he also served as offensive coordinator under Jimbo Fisher at Florida State from 2010-2012.