ATHENS — Kirby Smart can apparently scratch one notable defensive coordinator candidate. The question is whether he will now turn to another one.
Will Muschamp has an agreement in principle to become South Carolina’s head coach, according to The State. Muschamp, the former Georgia player, had been Smart’s teammate for one year, and they worked together twice on coaching staffs (at Valdosta State and LSU), so he was a natural to accompany Smart to Georgia. But a head coaching job trumps that.
That means that Jeremy Pruitt, in his second year as Georgia’s defensive coordinator, remains in play to be retained by Smart. The two know each other well, having worked together at Alabama from 2007-12. But they are not as close personally as Smart and Muschamp.
Pruitt also had uneasy relations with UGA’s administration over the past year, dating back to his comments about the school’s lack of an indoor facility. As Georgia endured a rough October, which ultimately sunk head coach Mark Richt, there was internal tumult on the coaching staff, with the strong-willed Pruitt at the center of some of it.
That said, Pruitt’s defense finished the regular season ninth nationally in yards allowed, his pass defense (he’s also the secondary coach) was first nationally, and his recruiting has been very strong. So there are strong reasons for everyone to let bygones go and retain Pruitt.
If not, no one has emerged yet as Smart’s next likely choice, mostly because he’s been distracted preparing for the SEC championship.
Kevin Sherrer, the Bulldogs’ outside linebackers coach the past two years, was the coordinator at South Alabama in 2013, and also worked at Alabama with Smart. So that’s another potential in-house candidate.
An announcement on Smart’s hiring should come soon, barring any late snags. He was spotted at the Hyatt in Atlanta on Saturday night “long after Alabama busses left,” according to AL.com reporter Michael Casagrande.
Kirby Smart just walked into the lobby at Hyatt in Atlanta, long after Alabama buses left. pic.twitter.com/1ynf77AQJs
— Michael Casagrande (@ByCasagrande) December 6, 2015