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How Kirby Smart handles the coaching carousel with 2019 SEC Championship Game looming
Less than 24 hours before Georgia was set to take the field for the 2018 SEC Championship Game, it was reported Mel Tucker was going to be the next head coach of Colorado. The story broke on Friday night. On Saturday afternoon, Tucker took the field with Georgia and coordinated its defense.
This is hardly a unique phenomenon. Georgia coach Kirby Smart himself dealt with during his time at Alabama, as he was heavily connected to the Georgia job during the 2015 SEC Championship Game when he was the defensive coordinator for the Crimson Tide.
So while the rest of college football enters the coaching carousel — including three SEC schools now looking for new head coaches — the Georgia coaches have to keep their eyes on the task at hand.
And Per Smart, that isn’t all that challenging.
“Talk to me about that after the season, after everything’s done. I don’t want to deal with that,” Smart said. “If I have one minute thinking about that, it’s not about what are they doing next, what is our next call, what is the next thing we can do. That’s not fair to the players.”
Smart and Georgia aren’t the only ones dealing with this at the moment. LSU coach Ed Orgeron has been asked about keeping passing game coordinator Joe Brady, as the assistant has become one of the most well-regarded offensive minds in the country and a Broyles Award finalist, which goes to the nation’s top assistant coach
Georgia also has one of the finalists for the award — which Smart won back in 2009 — as defensive coordinator Dan Lanning was one of five recognized for the award. In addition to his work in coordinating Georgia’s defense this year, Lanning is an excellent recruiter.
— Coach Sam Pittman (@CoachSamPittman) December 3, 2019
At 33 years old, he figures to be an attractive coaching option sooner rather than later. He’s been possibly mentioned as a candidate for the Ole Miss job and should the Memphis job come open with Mike Norvell leaving for a bigger job, the Tigers could target Lanning as he coached for Memphis from 2016-17.
Lanning isn’t the only attractive candidate on Georgia’s defensive staff as well. There’s co-defensive coordinator Glenn Schumann, who has been with Smart since he arrived in Athens prior to the 2016 season.
Monty Rice called Schumann the smartest coach he’s been around, and while he’s got a great gig at Georgia, teams possibly looking for a defensive coordinator would be wise to kick the tires on Schumann.
“He’s done a tremendous job. He provides a lot of energy. He’s a great teacher,” Smart said of Schumann. “He teaches the technique well. He spends more time putting his tapes and his packages together. His players play really hard for him. He’s a good recruiter. He’s what you want in a coach.”
Publicly, no coach is going to admit to focusing on other jobs. And for the most part, the players don’t necessarily pay too much attention to it, according to tight end Eli Wolf. He’s used to hearing rumors about coaches dating back to his time at Tennessee, where Butch Jones was fired midseason and the offensive coordinators changed constantly.
Wolf noted things seemed very stable at Georgia and it helps that the Bulldogs have the SEC championship game to focus on this week.
Coaching comings and goings aren’t the only subject that gets put on the back burner this week, as Smart and his staff aren’t hitting the road to recruit quite as hard as those who aren’t playing this weekend. Smart noted that they’ll try to get out when they can later in the week, but everything right now is geared towards LSU.
So while the rest of the college football world seems to be spinning with ample recruiting news and a coaching carousel that is already deeply tracking flights, at Georgia just about all of that has stopped to focus on the LSU Tigers.
“From my perspective, it’s important that you owe these players who put you in an opportunity to get that opportunity to give them your all,” Smart said.
Kirby Smart previews Georgia football-LSU 2019 SEC Championship Game
More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
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- BREAKING: Speed demon WR Corey Wren backs off his Georgia commitment
- Georgia football: Why Jake Fromm believes the offense still has another gear
- Georgia football maintains No. 4 College Football Playoff ranking heading into 2019 SEC Championship Game
- Georgia coach Kirby Smart updates D’Andre Swift status: ‘Banged up, it’s tough’
- How much does the first-half suspension of George Pickens hurt against LSU?
- Georgia football podcast: UGA should downplay underdog role in SEC championship
- Roquan Smith posts career-best day to highlight former Bulldogs in Week 13 of the NFL season
- Georgia-LSU: Which team has the edge from the recruiting trail?
- LSU confidence and pride entering SEC Championship Game is unmistakable
- Georgia defense not searching for limelight in SEC title game, only victory
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