Grantham’s message: He hadn’t spoken to Bulldogs coach Mark Richt or athletic director Greg McGarity about specific job openings, as required by terms in his contract, because there was nothing to discuss. Not yet, anyway.
“If I feel like I need to discuss something, I have a great relationship with Coach Richt and Greg and I would definitely do that from that standpoint,” Grantham said. “For me, the most important thing is doing a great job at Georgia because I like my job here. At the same time, as you move forward, if opportunities came up, I don’t think it’s fair to comment on every particular one because then all I’d be doing is talking about the rumors and innuendos and those kind of things, and then I couldn’t do my job.”
Numerous reports in the past month have attached Grantham’s name to the vacant defensive coordinator position with Chip Kelly’s new Philadelphia Eagles staff. And just Tuesday, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that Grantham -- an 11-year NFL coaching veteran and former Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator before joining Georgia’s staff in 2010 -- was set to interview with Saints coach Sean Payton for the coordinator position there -- a job that the Saints expect to fill with former Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, according to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Richt attempted to maintain the focus on Georgia’s new 32-man signing class today, keeping his answer general when asked about pro clubs' potential interest in his defensive coordinator. It’s “very common,” he said, for his staff members to receive outside interest.
“I know that we’ve got great coaches on our staff, and every single offseason somebody’s calling me about somebody,” Richt said. “That’s just the way it works and I think it’s a good sign. It means you’ve got some pretty darn good coaches.”
Grantham’s contract stipulates that he can leave Georgia for an NFL coordinator position or a top college head coaching job without monetary penalty. The reports linking the him to NFL openings said his being a proponent of the 3-4 base defense was particularly appealing to pro clubs looking to more effectively defend spread-style offenses.
His general responses to NFL-related queries today made it seem Grantham is at least willing to listen to NFL teams, should they come calling.
“I think at the end of the day, when you have time to reflect and sit down, the first thing you always do is you say what’s the best thing for your family. And that’s the most important thing because you have a family to take care of,” Grantham said. “And as you answer those questions, I think it kind of filters out to the way you want it and you just kind of move on.”
A fan asked Grantham early in the day at a gathering at UGA’s Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall whether he planned to remain with the Bulldogs. He replied that he and his family are happy at Georgia, but did not go much further than that.
Georgia lost out on a number of high-profile recruiting prospects down the stretch, some of whom might have been swayed by Grantham’s tenuous job situation in Athens. ESPN 300 outside linebacker Davin Bellamy expressed such concerns just before signing day, but still picked the Bulldogs today.
Nonetheless, Grantham said he would not have been surprised if other programs used negative recruiting tactics leading up to signing day.
“I think anytime you get down the road at this day and age, there’s going to be some type of recruiting,” he said. “But I’m very comfortable with the guys that we got and what they understand.”
As for whether Grantham intends to remain at Georgia, Richt said that that would be a conversation for another day and time.
“My goal today is to focus on this class and focus on these [signees],” Richt said. “And there may or may not be time to talk about the other. We’ll see.”