ATHENS — Anyone looking for the true story behind offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s early departure from the Georgia football program isn’t likely to discover it from one of his former players.
It’s been almost three weeks since most saw Schottenheimer, after the win over Georgia Tech. Most found out from teammates or the media this past Monday that his exit was immediate.
The circumstances of Schottenheimer leaving now, rather than after the bowl, are still murky. He has not responded to phone and text messages, and UGA’s administration isn’t saying anything. So it’s not public whether Schottenheimer made the decision on his own or was prodded. All that players know, at least those asked in interviews, is that their former offensive coordinator is gone.
“There’s no hard feelings at all,” senior offensive lineman Kolton Houston said. “At the end of the day college football is a business. And there’s no ifs, ands or buts about that. It’s a business. Especially as coaches they’ve gotta do what’s best for them. Obviously they’re here for us but they’re there for themselves too, and their family. So they have to go look for another job too. They have to do what’s best for their families. And that’s what he at this moment felt was best for his family.”
Few players have had a chance to say goodbye to Schottenheimer, who only told his quarterbacks on Monday.
“That’s normal. Usually when a coach leaves he (only) talks to his position,” said Houston, who as a sixth-year senior has seen plenty of coaching departures.
It was clear that Schottenheimer was not being retained by new head coach Kirby Smart, who announced Saturday that Jim Chaney was coming over from Pittsburgh as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Those were Schottenheimer’s jobs.
Smart also announced a new offensive line coach, Sam Pittman, but outgoing O-line coach Rob Sale has remained through the bowl. No players interviewed were holding it against Schottenheimer.
“He’s a grown man, he had to make the decision he felt was best for him and his family, and we’ve gotta respect that,” senior tailback Keith Marshall said. “Everybody’s got a decision they’ve got to make.”
A personnel report provided by UGA through the Open Records Act listed Schottenheimer’s departure as “resignation,” but that term or “resigned” is what has been on all personnel forms provided to the media, including Mark Richt. It listed the termination date as this past Monday.
It’s still not clear, and UGA hasn’t said, whether Schottenheimer will get the remainder of his contract, which entitles him to about $1.9 million over the next two years, minus whatever he earns at another job.
“I really like the guy,” sophomore tight end Jeb Blazevich said. “Just wish him the best in whatever he does, because at the end of the day it is just a game. So I just want to wish him the best.”