ATLANTA — Georgia finally landed a defensive coordinator Friday, hiring Dallas Cowboys line coach Todd Grantham.
Grantham is in his second year with the Cowboys, who'll face Minnesota in the second round of the NFL playoffs Sunday. He previously spent three years as defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns and a total of six years as an assistant at Houston and Indianapolis. He's also coached in the college ranks, at Michigan State and his alma mater, Virginia Tech.
The hiring of Grantham ends a six-week search in which Georgia pursued several high-profile coordinators to replace Willie Martinez, who was fired Dec. 2 along with two other defensive assistants. Among those turning down the Bulldogs: Virginia Tech's Bud Foster, LSU's John Chavis and Alabama's Kirby Smart.
Grantham agreed to a three-year contract worth $750,000 annually. He will stay with the Cowboys as long as they remain in the playoffs, which could delay his move to Athens for three more weeks. The Super Bowl is Feb. 7.
"I'm excited the search is over, we have our man, and look forward to what Todd will bring to our defense, our team, and our university," Richt said. "I think it is particularly valuable that he has a wealth of experience on the defensive side of the ball at both the NFL and collegiate levels. Now we look forward to moving ahead with the home stretch of recruiting, finishing out the defensive staff, and getting ready for spring practice."
Grantham was hired on the same day that rival Georgia Tech settled on former Virginia coach Al Groh as its new defensive coordinator.
"I'm very excited about being part of a staff that will work tremendously hard to return Georgia football to one of the premier teams in the SEC," Grantham said. "To the fans and boosters of the University of Georgia, I understand the passion and standard of excellence expected. I look forward to developing an aggressive, physical, attacking style defense that offenses will not look forward to playing against."
That wasn't the case under Martinez.
This past season, Georgia ranked 10th in the SEC in points allowed (26.4) and seventh in yards allowed (328.4). Over the last two years, the Bulldogs surrendered at least 30 points in 10 of their 26 games.