ATHENS – Mike Cavan was given the job of introducing Kirby Smart to the Macon Touchdown Club two weeks ago, and Cavan decided to use part of his remarks to talk not just about Smart, but the nine men he hired as his assistants.
“You’ve got the best staff I’ve seen at Georgia in a long time,” Cavan said.
Perhaps it’s just what you say about a new coach, particularly one Cavan works for now in the title of special assistant to the head coach. Or perhaps Cavan, who was an assistant coach at Georgia from 1977-85 and returned in the early 2000s in a fundraising role, was speaking from a position of sincere expertise.
Still, it raises the question of whether he’s right. It’s hard to quantify how good a staff truly is, especially before it’s coached a game. Vince Dooley, for what it’s worth, said his first staff in 1964 was probably his best, and history would show that Mark Richt’s first staff in 2001 was also his best. Dooley and Richt’s staffs laid the foundations for two SEC titles in their first five years.
Richt’s final staff ended up not being good enough, at least to keep his job. But if you look at where everyone on that staff ended up, it compares pretty well with Smart’s first staff, at least in terms of their previous jobs.
That all in mind, here’s a look at where Smart’s assistants came from and where each of Richt’s final staff members ended up – along with where Richt’s other assistants at Georgia are now:
WHERE SMART’S STAFF WAS LAST YEAR
- Jim Chaney, offensive coordinator/QBs: Pittsburgh, offensive coordinator/QBs
- Dell McGee, running backs: Georgia Southern, running backs
- James Coley, receivers: Miami, offensive coordinator/QB coach
- Sam Pittman, offensive line: Arkansas, offensive line
- Shane Beamer, special teams/TEs: Virginia Tech, running backs coach
- Mel Tucker, defensive coordinator, DBs: Alabama, defensive backs coach
- Tracy Rocker, defensive line: Same job at Georgia
- Kevin Sherrer, outside linebackers: Same job at Georgia
- Glenn Schumann, inside linebackers: Alabama, defensive analyst
RICHT’S FINAL STAFF — WHERE THEY ARE NOW
- Brian Schottenheimer, offensive coordinator/QBs — Indianapolis Colts, QB coach
- Thomas Brown, running backs — Miami, Co-offensive coordinator/RB coach.
- Bryan McClendon, receivers — South Carolina, co-offensive coordinator/WR coach.
- John Lilly, TEs, co-special teams — Los Angeles Rams, TE coach
- Rob Sale, offensive line — Louisiana-Monroe, offensive line
- Jeremy Pruitt, defensive coordinator/DBs — Alabama, defensive coordinator/DBs
- Tracy Rocker, defensive line — Retained at Georgia
- Kevin Sherrer, outside linebackers — Retained at Georgia
- Mike Ekeler, inside linebackers — North Texas, defensive coordinator
RICHT’S OTHER ASSISTANT COACHES AT GEORGIA – WHERE THEY ARE NOW
- Brian VanGorder, defensive coordinator (2001-04) – Notre Dame, defensive coordinator
- Rodney Garner, defensive line (2000-12) – Auburn, defensive line
- Mike Bobo, QB coach (2001-14), offensive coordinator (2006-14) – Colorado State head coach
- Neil Calloway, offensive line (2001-06) – Southern California, offensive line coach
- John Eason, receivers coach (2001-08) – recently retired after spending past seven years at Georgia in an off-field role.
- Willie Martinez, secondary (2001-09), defensive coordinator (2005-09) – Tennessee, defensive backs.
- Jon Fabris, defensive ends (2001-09) – Riverside Military Academy (Gainesville), defensive line coach
- David Johnson, tight ends (2001-07) – Ohio University, offensive line
- Tony Pierce, running backs (2001-02) – Savannah State, linebackers/special teams
- Ken Rucker, running backs (2003-04) – Retired in January after spending last 11 seasons at Texas, the last eight in an off-field role.
- John Jancek, linebackers (2005-09) – South Florida, safeties coach, after serving as defensive ccoordinator at Tennessee from 2013-15.
- Kirby Smart, running backs (2005) – Georgia, head coach.
- Tony Ball, running backs (2006-08) and receivers (2009-14) – Stepped down in February after one season as LSU’s receivers coach.
- Stacy Searels, offensive line (2007-10) – Miami, offensive line coach
- Todd Grantham, defensive coordinator (2010-13) – Louisville, defensive coordinator
- Will Friend, offensive line (2011-14) – Colorado State, offensive coordinator
- Warren Belin, inside linebackers (2010) — Wake Forest, director of high school relations
- Scott Lakatos, defensive backs (2010-13) – Monmouth, defensive backs coach
- Kirk Olivadotti, inside linebackers (2011-13) — Washington Redskins, ILBs
- Chris Wilson, defensive line (2013) – Philadelphia Eagles, defensive line coach.