ATHENS — There were more than a dozen Georgia staff members leading the football team through Thursday’s bowl practice, shouting, running and doing their best to prepare the players for one more game.
But the only two men with any guarantee of being here after that game were standing to the side, just watching.
Jim Chaney and Sam Pittman, respectively the incoming offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, are silent but imposing presences at these practices. They are not coaching, and players said they don’t say anything to them during practice.
But everyone knows they’re there.
“It’s good for the young guys,” said offensive lineman Kolton Houston, a senior who won’t play for the new staff. “It encourages them to give a little extra effort, because they’ve gotta try to prove something to that guy too.”
Chaney and Pittman’s roles are being filled during bowl practice by holdovers who are unlikely to be retained. It’s an awkward situation, but one everyone is trying to make work.
“He’s just observing,” sophomore tight end Jeb Blazevich said of Chaney. “He’s just letting everybody finish out our year.”
During Thursday’s media viewing period of practice, Chaney was speaking with Mike Cavan, the former Georgia assistant coach now in an advisory role to the athletics department. Chaney was between the receivers and the offensive linemen.
Pittman stood alone watching the offensive line. He stopped at one point to take a phone call. Linemen said he has been leaving them alone, letting Rob Sale coach the line.
“He stands back there and minds his own business,” Houston said. “Him and Chaney just kind of walk around. He doesn’t sit there like a hawk’s eye watching us the whole time.”
The pair are using bowl practice as a chance to evaluate the players that they will coach next year. Junior center Brandon Kublanow is one of them. He had a chance to sit down with Pittman, who was hired on Saturday after three seasons at Arkansas.
“I’m excited. I think he’s gonna do great things here at Georgia,” Kublanow said.
There has yet to be a big offensive meeting with Chaney, who is getting to know his new players more informally. Sometimes that comes after practice, or just in a quick conversation in the halls.
Others, such as sophomore tight end Jeb Blazevich, already knew him, at least passingly. Chaney recruited one of Blazevich’s high school teammates, as well as Georgia freshman tight end Jackson Harris. Blazevich also texted with a friend on Arkansas’ team who said Chaney was the reason he became a Razorback.
“He says that he loves him as a man. That’s the best thing to hear. Because a lot of people are good coaches, but few men are good men too.”