Georgia Bulldogs: Bryan McClendon

Turnover common for Ball, McClendon

December, 26, 2013
12/26/13
7:00
AM ET
Pardon Bryan McClendon if he took a pessimistic approach before the fall even arrived, but his five seasons as Georgia's running backs coach have permanently ingrained that attitude into his coaching outlook.

McClendon, who each season has juggled his lineups because of an assortment of injuries and off-the-field issues, predicted to All-SEC tailback Todd Gurley before the season that his sophomore year would not be all breakaway touchdown runs and soaring dives into the end zone. Those moments came, too, but McClendon's prediction proved to be correct when Gurley injured himself in the opener against Clemson and later missed three-and-a-half games with an ankle injury sustained against LSU.

[+] EnlargeTodd Gurley, Ahmad Christian
Dale Zanine/USA TODAY SportsTodd Gurley, who has rushed for 903 yards this season, has been hobbled by an ankle injury this season.
“That's something that we've known and we talked about before the year: it's going to be something,” McClendon said. “We didn't know what it was going to be, but it's going to be something -- just by the position and the style of play that he plays. But I do know that he probably won't be 100 percent [again] until after the year.”

It's always been something for McClendon's players -- and for fellow UGA assistant Tony Ball's receivers, as well -- but the coaches and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo have proven over time that they are capable of adjusting to the personnel available on a given week.

They've certainly had more than enough practice in that capacity this season.

Gurley and Keith Marshall both missed multiple games at tailback, while freshmen J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas also struggled with minor ailments at points. And Ball's wideout group lost Malcolm Mitchell to a torn ACL on the second possession of the season, Justin Scott-Wesley to an ACL at midseason and Chris Conley, Michael Bennett and Jonathon Rumph for multiple games at points.

The results with a decimated lineup weren't always pretty -- the Bulldogs committed four turnovers in a midseason loss to Missouri and generated just 221 yards of offense in the following week's loss to Vanderbilt -- but Bobo and company found a way to keep Georgia on pace to break the school's scoring record. The Bulldogs are averaging 38.2 ppg this season, just ahead of their record-setting 37.8-ppg average from 2012.

“There was an adjustment period there that we had to go through,” Bobo said. “That Missouri game, we pretty much stayed aggressive, but we kind of turned the ball over a little bit [and had] some timing issues. We tried to slow it a little bit down in the Vanderbilt game and didn't have the results that way, either, and had to go back to the drawing board and the guys responded and answered and came back and played well the rest of the year.”

That they did. Georgia averaged 45.8 ppg over the final four games, even without key players like Marshall, Mitchell, Scott-Wesley and senior quarterback Aaron Murray, who tore his ACL in the home finale against Kentucky. Even with Rantavious Wooten and Rhett McGowan playing bigger roles at receiver and with the freshmen filling in for Gurley and Marshall in the backfield at midseason, the Bulldogs regularly got production out of less heralded players.

“A lot of people went down and kids had to step up and prove they can play. Even a lot of freshmen had to step up and play,” Douglas said. “I just give credit to the coaches for having them ready to go and Coach B-Mac having me and J.J. ready to roll in whenever we needed to.”

McClendon turned 30 earlier this month, but since Mark Richt promoted him from his post as a graduate assistant in 2009, he has dealt with as much roster turnover as a considerably older coach.

It was stressful, McClendon admitted, but it also expedited his development within the profession.

“You learn by hard times,” McClendon said. “You learn by adversity, you learn by when things are not going just peachy. And obviously that's been the case, and I think I've grown tremendously from it.”

His boss agrees.

Richt saw Green rush for 129 yards in an overtime win against Tennessee and witnessed Douglas post 113 yards of offense against Missouri even when they weren't ready to play leading roles just yet. He saw 10 different wideouts make catches over the course of the season, with seven of them finishing with at least 89 yards in a game this fall.

Injuries are of course part of the game, but Georgia's receivers and running backs have dealt with more than their share over the last couple of seasons – and Richt is proud of the way his assistants have coped with those situations.

“[Ball] coaches them all the same and he does a great job of trying to crosstrain players when they're ready for it to make sure if you do have an injury … you've got guys that have got to be moving around. He did a great job,” Richt said. “And McClendon did, too. Bryan, I think he's blossomed into one heck of a coach.

“I just don't like bragging too much about these guys because everybody wants to try to snag them,” Richt chuckled. “So we don't want that to happen.”

Best SEC recruiters 

October, 15, 2013
10/15/13
8:00
PM ET
video
Editor's note: For a look at the national recruiter power rankings based only on Class of 2014 success, click here.

It's no secret that Southeastern Conference has been the top conference in the country as far as recruiting over the last several years. The league currently has six teams ranked in the top 11 of the team recruiting rankings. Here's a look at the top 10 recruiters around the ultra-competitive conference.
ATHENS, Ga. – A day before his Georgia team toppled then-No. 6 LSU, running backs coach Bryan McClendon shared a personal experience from his playing days with a current Bulldogs veteran.

McClendon was a junior receiver on the 2004 Georgia team that slaughtered defending BCS champion LSU 45-16 at Sanford Stadium only to turn around the very next Saturday and lose to double-digit underdog Tennessee, 19-14.

“I actually was talking to B-Mac about that yesterday,” Georgia cornerback Damian Swann said after the Bulldogs' emotional 44-41 win on Saturday. “Him and Dan [Inman, a UGA graduate assistant who was a starting offensive tackle that season] played on that team.”

[+] EnlargeMark Richt
AP Photo/John BazemoreMark Richt enjoyed the win over LSU, but he said there's work to be done on defense and special teams.
Swann and most of his teammates are too young to clearly remember that letdown, immediately following what at the time seemed like one of the Georgia program's biggest victories in years. But McClendon and Inman no doubt share bitter memories about the loss -- the first of that season for a Georgia team that came in harboring BCS title hopes -- and how it left the Bulldogs with familiar thoughts about what might have been.

A sloppy overall performance, like when a holding penalty eliminated McClendon's second-quarter kickoff return to the Tennessee 2-yard line, caused Georgia to fall against a Tennessee team that lost 34-10 to Auburn only a week earlier.

Flash forward to 2013 and the scenario is similar.

Granted, this Tennessee team (3-2, 0-1 SEC) isn't in the same class as the 2004 Vols, who rebounded from the Auburn loss to win the rest of their conference games and claim the SEC East title. First-year coach Butch Jones' team barely managed to end its two-game losing streak on Saturday, edging South Alabama 31-24 following a pair of dismal showings against Oregon and Florida.

Nonetheless, the Vols opened as 10-point underdogs for this weekend's home game against Georgia, which is actually 2.5 points more favorable odds than their 2004 predecessors faced when they visited Athens that season.

With No. 6 Georgia (3-1, 2-0) having just completed the most brutal September schedule in college football -- they opened with a road loss at No. 3 Clemson and then followed with consecutive wins against No. 13 South Carolina, North Texas and No. 10 LSU -- it was a good time for McClendon to remind the modern-day Bulldogs of his career history. His 2004 team's mental letdown spoiled a season that could have ended with a slot in a BCS bowl instead of in Tampa, Fla., playing in the Outback Bowl.

“We're happy to make it out of this month. I don't think nobody had it as rough as us. Nobody. And at the end of the day, that's a plus for us,” Swann said. “I think with the resume we just put up in September, we've just got to go out and continue to do what we do and we're going to be fine. Right now we have the best resume in the country, playing three top-10 teams in four weeks -- and we're 3-1. We're going to keep getting better and we're going to keep balling. We've just got to keep grinding.”

And keep staying focused.

Georgia has hardly been a dominant team thus far -- certainly not in the games where the defense struggled mightily against top-10 opponents and even in the 45-21 win against North Texas, where the teams were tied at 21 in the third quarter. The Bulldogs can't afford to turn in such a flat performance against the likes of Tennessee, Missouri or Vanderbilt over the next few weeks or their Nov. 2 showdown with No. 18 Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., won't mean as much as it could.

That's a message Bulldogs coach Mark Richt will certainly join McClendon in sending this week, and he'll have historical precedent to support his claims.

“Next week, if we think it's going to be any easier, we're crazy,” Richt said. “We're going Knoxville, Tenn., man. They're going to be fired up, their fans are going to be ready to go and if we think it's going to be anything less than what we've been living through, we're nuts.

“We played North Texas and that was a barn burner, so every game's going to be a barn burner until we really get more stout on defense and continue to get our special teams in order.”

UGA-LSU games always memorable

September, 27, 2013
9/27/13
7:00
AM ET


ATHENS, Ga. – As an SEC West school, LSU is hardly a fixture on Georgia's annual football schedule. But when the Tigers and Bulldogs do get together, the results are almost always memorable.

Just think back over the past decade. Two meetings in the SEC championship game – one won by each school. The phantom celebration penalty against Georgia receiver A.J. Green in 2009, helping pave the way for LSU's comeback victory. Georgia putting huge point totals on LSU's defending BCS champion teams in 2004 and 2008.

There's a lot to remember – and just like in Saturday's meeting between No. 6 LSU (4-0, 1-0 SEC) and No. 9 Georgia (2-1, 1-0) – there are often major SEC and BCS implications in play.

“[I told the younger players] any game can go down to the last second, but what kind of fight that they're going to have to be ready for,” said Georgia fifth-year senior receiver Rantavious Wooten, one of the few Bulldogs who were on the team when LSU last visited Athens in 2009. “They've got aspirations just like we do. They want a championship and we want a championship and this game right here, this is the game for it. So I just let them know what to expect and how it's going to be and just to get ready for it.”

Georgia coach Mark Richt is 3-4 against LSU since arriving at UGA in 2001 and Tigers coach Les Miles is 2-2 against the Bulldogs. Let's take a look at the last five times their programs squared off:

[+] EnlargeMark Richt
Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports Mark Richt and the Bulldogs hope to give LSU its first loss of the season on Saturday.
2011 SEC Championship Game (Atlanta): No. 1 LSU 42, No. 16 Georgia 10
In one of the most bizarre games of Richt's tenure, Georgia's defense thoroughly dominated the first half. LSU didn't muster a single first down and was in danger of falling down by a big margin, but Georgia receivers dropped a pair of potential first-half touchdown passes and LSU punt returner Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu took a kick back for a touchdown to make it 10-7 Georgia at halftime. The second half was a completely different story, as the Bulldogs committed a couple of turnovers, LSU's pounding rushing attack began to have its intended effect and Todd Grantham's defense seemed helpless as the Tigers rushed for 202 yards and three touchdowns after intermission, turning the game into a rout.

Oct. 3, 2009 (Athens): No. 4 LSU 20, No. 18 Georgia 13
This one will forever be remembered among Georgia fans for a referee's questionable decision to penalize Georgia superstar Green for excessive celebration following his leaping, go-ahead touchdown catch with 1:09 to play, giving Georgia its first lead at 13-12. The penalty forced the Bulldogs to kick off from their own 15 and LSU return specialist Trindon Holliday made them pay by returning the kickoff to the Georgia 43, with a 5-yard penalty against the Bulldogs on the kickoff moving LSU even closer to the UGA end zone. Two plays later, Charles Scott rushed for his second touchdown of the fourth quarter, a 33-yard run with 46 seconds to play allowing LSU to improve to 5-0.

Oct. 25, 2008 (Baton Rouge): No. 7 Georgia 52, No. 13 LSU 38
As wild as the ending of the 2009 game was, this one was crazy from the very beginning. Georgia linebacker Darryl Gamble returned an interception for a 40-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage and added a 53-yard pick six in the game's closing minutes as the Bulldogs hung half-a-hundred on LSU's porous defense. The Tigers surrendered 50-plus twice that season – the first time in school history that had happened – leading Miles to dump co-defensive coordinators Doug Mallory and Bradley Dale Peveto after the season in favor of former Tennessee coordinator John Chavis, who has been in Baton Rouge ever since.

2005 SEC Championship Game (Atlanta): No. 13 Georgia 34, No. 3 LSU 14
Although fellow receiver Sean Bailey caught a pair of first-quarter touchdowns from D.J. Shockley that got Georgia off on the right foot, Bulldogs senior Bryan McClendon – now the team's running backs coach – might have delivered the play of the game when he blocked a punt midway through the second quarter deep in LSU territory. That helped Georgia score to take a commanding 21-7 halftime lead which LSU never threatened. The Bulldogs' defense also did its job that day, limiting an LSU rushing attack that dominated in their 2003 meeting in Atlanta to just 74 rushing yards.

Oct. 2, 2004 (Athens): No. 3 Georgia 45, No. 13 LSU 16
Nick Saban's final game against Georgia while at LSU ended with a humiliating loss, as the Tigers surrendered the most points allowed by an LSU defense since Florida hung 56 on them in 1996. Georgia quarterback David Greene threw only 19 passes, but set a school record by completing five of them for touchdowns. The Bulldogs had lost twice to Saban's Tigers in 2003 – 17-10 in Baton Rouge and 34-13 in the SEC Championship Game – but they quickly exacted a degree of revenge by jumping out to a 24-0 lead before LSU could answer. The Bulldogs also generated three turnovers and sacked LSU quarterbacks Marcus Randall and JaMarcus Russell five times.

Both teams have been ranked in the top-20 in all seven of their meetings in the Richt era, and this will be the second time they've both been in the top-10. While not every meeting between the two has produced a close contest, they've all been memorable – and almost always impacted their respective championship chases.

“They've been great games. ... Just about every one of them, both teams are ranked teams and at least in the Top 25,” Richt said. “It is a cross-conference rival, so it doesn't hold quite the weight of an Eastern Division [game] when it comes to who plays in Atlanta. We could lose the game and still control our destiny, and they could lose the game and still control their destiny, so it's not do-or-die as far as league play, but it's very important for any national title hopes.”

Big first run only the start for Douglas

September, 17, 2013
9/17/13
7:00
AM ET
ATHENS, Ga. -- As career debuts go, few can match Brendan Douglas in terms of the pressure of the moment.

The Georgia freshman had not touched the ball yet in his first college game -- he missed the opener against Clemson with an injury -- when running backs coach Bryan McClendon sent him in to spell Todd Gurley with the Bulldogs attempting to protect a 41-30 lead late in the fourth quarter against South Carolina. And all he did was break through a hole on his first career carry and flatten Gamecocks safety Brison Williams to pick up 17 yards right in front of his team's sideline, where his teammates celebrated like Douglas just scored a touchdown.

[+] EnlargeDouglas
Daniel Shirey/USA TODAY SportsBrendan Douglas made the most of his chance against South Carolina.
“It was crazy. That's what he's been doing since he got here,” fullback Quayvon Hicks said.

Gurley agreed: “That dude is a beast. If only you would have seen him in camp.”

Douglas generated considerable buzz during Georgia's August practices with his physical running style, but the injury before the Clemson game and the stakes in the following week's game against South Carolina -- stars Gurley and Keith Marshall combined for 40 touches, 252 yards and three touchdowns – meant an opportunity had not arisen for Douglas to enter the pivotal SEC East game.

But with Marshall out of the game with a knee injury and Gurley needing a breather, Georgia's coaches turned to the freshman midway through what would become the game's final possession. The Bulldogs took over at their own 1 with 8:28 left, but hammered away at the Gamecocks' defensive front to drive 81 yards and use up all of the remaining time on the clock.

The lead hammer? Douglas, who took his first carry with 5:10 remaining and handled the ball on five of the game's final eight plays.

“If Keith was not hurt, he probably wouldn't have gotten that opportunity, but he got the opportunity and he took great advantage of it,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “Every time we've seen him scrimmage, we saw what you guys saw -- a really powerful runner who's got good ball security and some good vision. So like I've been saying, he's a very legitimate Southeastern Conference tailback in my opinion, and I think he's going to have a good career for us before it's all over.”

Even Douglas was surprised, however, when McClendon called his name for the first time.

“He called me over and I was a little surprised, I guess, but I was ready to go,” Douglas told his hometown Augusta Chronicle in the tunnel outside the locker room following the game.

UGA has not cleared Douglas to participate in media sessions since preseason practice, but his coaches and teammates are more than willing to praise his talents.

For instance, Richt and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said last week that they already view Douglas as one of the team's top short-yardage backs.

“We feel confident in him running in those situations,” Bobo said. “He does a nice job. He's hard to tackle, low to the ground, good balance and has exhibited good ball security here in camp.”

He certainly proved that on his first career carry, when he lowered his shoulder to knock Williams to the ground before slamming into other South Carolina defenders near the Georgia bench.

Teammates like Corey Moore, Amarlo Herrera and Hutson Mason led the cheers from the sidelines as dozens of Bulldogs ran toward Douglas to celebrate the run that helped nail down an enormous win.

One of the first to reach him was tight end Arthur Lynch, who lifted Douglas into the air during the party and who expects that to be only the first of many such celebrations involving the freshman tailback.

“He was a guy that was about to go to Georgia Tech, so thank God we got him here,” Lynch said. “He's a hard-nosed kid, he's deceivingly fast, he holds the ball high and tight, which is really what you want out of a running back.

“He's got that attribute that Todd has: you can't bring him down with one guy alone and he has very good balance, so I think he's very good to have in our backfield.”
ATHENS, Ga. -- Scour the locker rooms at Georgia and Clemson and it might be difficult to find a player who knows much about their historic rivalry.

“You know me, I don’t know much about Georgia’s history from before I got here,” Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray chuckled in one such response about the longtime rivalry between schools separated by only about 70 miles.

Murray is far from alone in that regard. The 22-year-old Floridian was 13 the last time Georgia and Clemson met, in 2003, and was not even alive when the annual 1980s meetings between the Bulldogs and Tigers often carried national-title implications.

Fans of a certain age might harken back to those days on Saturday, however, when the rivalry resumes -- ending the longest gap between games since the series started in 1897 -- and No. 5 Georgia visits No. 8 Clemson in Death Valley.

[+] EnlargeClemson, Danny Ford
AP Photo/Kathy WillensCoach Danny Ford and Clemson beat Georgia 13-3 in 1981 and went on to win the national championship.
“Georgia was really good every year, so it meant that doggone it, somebody was going to get a lot of publicity and a lot of press, whoever won that football game,” said former Tigers coach Danny Ford, who will be enshrined in Clemson’s Ring of Honor on Saturday. “You could still be a good football team if you lost that game, but it just put a cramp in everything and it was so early in the year -- the first or second game or third game every year -- and you kind of knew what kind of football team [you had].

“It was kind of like a Wednesday where the kids in school call it Hump Day, you know? You’re in the middle of the week, get your classes over with and you’re about halfway to the weekend. That was the same kind of a hump game, where if you get off and win that football game, you’ve got a great chance to have a good year.”

Back then, your season could be more than good if you slipped away with a win. Thanks to a 67-yard punt return touchdown by Scott Woerner and a 98-yard Woerner interception return that set up another score, Georgia edged Clemson 20-16 in 1980 despite failing to register a single first down in the opening half.

“At the end, they’re back down there and Jeff Hipp makes an interception on about the 1-yard line right at the end of the game,” recalled former Georgia coach Vince Dooley, who posted a 15-6-1 record against Clemson in his 25 seasons as the Bulldogs’ coach. “But statistic-wise, they just knocked us all over the place.”

The 10th-ranked Bulldogs went on to win the national title that season after barely surviving the Tigers’ upset bid. And Clemson returned the favor the following year, generating nine turnovers to beat Herschel Walker and No. 4 Georgia 13-3 en route to a national title of its own.

Clemson’s 1981 win marked the only time that Georgia lost in the regular season during Walker’s three seasons on campus.

“They’re the only team that he played more than once in his college career and didn’t score a touchdown against,” said UGA grad Kyle King, whose new book detailing the Georgia-Clemson series history, “Fighting Like Cats and Dogs,” was published, oddly enough, by the Clemson University Digital Press. “So they really were the ones who -- to the extent anyone had Herschel’s number -- they’re the ones who had his number.”

[+] EnlargeVince Dooley
Dale Zanine/US Presswire for ESPN.comIn 25 years as coach at Georgia , Vince Dooley posted a 15-6-1 record against Clemson.
Just how close were the two teams in their respective pursuits of the national title? Georgia scored exactly 316 points during the 1980 regular season before beating Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl to claim its first national title since 1942. The following year, Clemson matched that scoring total to the number, notching the very same 316 points in the regular season before beating Nebraska in the Orange Bowl to claim the school’s first national championship.

The series continued to produce memorable outcomes on an annual basis throughout the 1980s. Take 1982, for example, when No. 7 Georgia hosted No. 11 Clemson in the first night game in decades at Sanford Stadium. Much like Saturday’s game at Clemson, the 1982 game aired before a prime-time national TV audience on ABC -- that year on Labor Day evening.

Bulldogs defenders picked off four passes by Clemson quarterback and Athens native Homer Jordan en route to a 13-7 win and another undefeated regular season. Once again, the Georgia-Clemson winner played in the game that would determine the national champion, although the Bulldogs lost this time, 27-23 to Penn State in the Sugar Bowl.

Nonetheless, those first three games set the standard for one of the nastiest rivalries of the 1980s -- one where defense, big special-teams plays and general hard-nosed aggression became trademarks.

“I remember it was always a tough game for Georgia. It was a tough game, period,” said Georgia running backs coach Bryan McClendon, who appeared in the series’ last two games, in 2002 and 2003, and whose father Willie preceded him as a Georgia player and coach. “It was always one of the biggest games out there in the country and it’s a lot like this year, to be honest with you. You never knew who was going to come out on top. Both teams always had high expectations going into each year, let alone that game. It was always a hard-fought war out there on the field.”

There was the 1984 game where Georgia beat No. 2 Clemson 26-23 on a 60-yard Kevin Butler field goal -- a play that produced what King called Bulldogs announcer Larry Munson’s most memorable call from a home game, when he estimated that Butler would “try to kick one 100,000 miles” and then proclaimed that “the stadium is worse than bonkers” once the kick cleared the uprights.

Clemson enjoyed its own kicking-game heroics in 1986 and 1987, when David Treadwell booted game-winning field goals at the end of the Tigers’ respective 31-28 and 21-20 victories.

“We were so evenly matched, and so many came down to a field goal or a touchdown, and we were so evenly matched that all of them kind of run together in my thoughts,” Ford recalled. “They’d win one and we’d win one.”

That proved true throughout Ford’s 11-year tenure at Clemson. A rivalry that Georgia once dominated -- the Bulldogs are 41-17-4 all-time against the Tigers and went 11-1-1 against Frank Howard, the winningest coach in Clemson history -- was extremely even in the 1980s.

Ford went 4-4-1 against Georgia while at Clemson. The scoring differential during that period? Georgia 153, Clemson 152.

“It was more about respectability for us because Georgia had the upper hand for so long back when Coach Howard [was here],” Ford said. “I tell the story all the time that Coach Howard would have to play Georgia and Georgia Tech, who was in the SEC back then, Alabama and Auburn and lose four games to have enough money to make his budget and then win the ACC conference. But back then he had to do that and he couldn’t hardly ever get them to come play at our place. It was just a thing of respectability I think, more so for us in the '80s."

Respectability is no longer a problem for either of the programs who will renew their longtime rivalry on Saturday in Death Valley. Georgia’s Mark Richt led his team within an eyelash of playing for the BCS title last year, and the Bulldogs enter Saturday’s game with their highest preseason ranking since opening the 2008 campaign in the No. 1 spot. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney has led the Tigers to a 21-6 record over the last two seasons and, blessed with a Heisman Trophy contender in quarterback Tajh Boyd, should boast one of the nation’s most explosive offenses.

The programs no longer resemble the Ford- and Dooley-era squads that relied on defense and the kicking game to win low-scoring games, but considering the standing the Georgia-Clemson game once held in the national championship race, it seems fitting that Saturday’s reunion occupies a marquee spot in college football’s opening weekend.

“I grew up with this game being played pretty much every year, and it was at a time that Georgia beat Florida every year, and Georgia beat Georgia Tech every year, so Clemson and Auburn were really the two games that you went into the year thinking, ‘Boy, I hope we can get out of that one with a W,’ ” King said. “I didn’t want to lose that, and that was really what ultimately inspired me to go back and write this book.

“We’re going into a season where it looks like you have two top-10 teams, two frontrunners in their conferences, two top-drawer quarterbacks going up against one another,” he added. “I think it’s important to remind fans that this isn’t a new thing. We butted heads with these guys in big games before, and hopefully we’ll get the chance to keep doing it in the future.”

2015 OL Warmack verges on decision 

July, 11, 2013
7/11/13
1:25
PM ET


ATHENS, Ga. -- The recruitment for offensive lineman Dallas Warmack (Atlanta/Mays) might be over before it really begins. Last month he picked up an offer from the Bulldogs after working out with offensive line coach Will Friend. Alabama offered the following week, and Tennessee offered on Tuesday. Warmack may not give anyone else a chance.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

ATHENS, Ga. -- Mark Richt had no connection to the SEC when he became Georgia’s head coach in 2001, but he knew better than to let the same be said of his coaching staff. Nearly half of Richt’s first staff had SEC experience -- and Richt readily admits that was by design.

In defensive line coach Rodney Garner, he had not only a former All-SEC player and coach at Auburn and Tennessee, he had a well-connected recruiting coordinator who helped keep Richt’s first signing class intact.

In Neil Callaway, he hired a hard-nosed offensive line coach who played under Bear Bryant at Alabama and coached under Pat Dye at multiple stops including Auburn.

[+] EnlargeAaron Murray and Mike Bobo
Paul Abell/US PresswireOffensive coordinator Mike Bobo (right) was one of many people Mark Richt has hired that had SEC ties.
In Mike Bobo, he added a young former Georgia quarterback whose father built a decades-long reputation as a football coach within the state.

And in Jon Fabris, he had a live wire who brought intensity to each practice after playing in the league at Ole Miss and coaching at multiple stops, including South Carolina.

Over the last 13 years, Richt has developed plenty of experience in the league, leading the Bulldogs to two SEC titles and five Eastern Division crowns. Throughout that time, however, the SEC presence has remained on his staff.

Bobo is the lone holdover from Richt’s first batch of hirings, but he now has company from another former Georgia player, running backs coach Bryan McClendon, and a number of other assistants who have played and coached in the league.

Offensive line coach Will Friend was an All-SEC performer at Alabama and once served as a UGA graduate assistant under Richt. New defensive line coach Chris Wilson came to Georgia in the offseason after a stint as defensive coordinator at Mississippi State. And while he never coached in the SEC prior to becoming the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator in 2010, Todd Grantham worked under the league’s current kingpin, Nick Saban, as an assistant at Michigan State.

In other words, it isn’t necessary to hire a head coach with SEC ties for the coaching staff to still have the league’s distinct flavor. Richt was an up-and-coming Florida State coordinator who ran a high-scoring finesse offense when he accepted the Georgia job and yet his collection of assistants included tough coaches who cut their teeth in the SEC, helping mold differing philosophies into a winning combination.

Few programs have won more consistently than Georgia since Richt took over as the Bulldogs’ head coach, so previous SEC experience might be slightly overrated as a predictor of future success in the league. Richt’s tenure might never have gotten off the ground, however, if he hadn’t initially hired some coaches who understood the SEC’s physical demands and who already developed key recruiting contacts within the state and region.

Multiple philosophical changes that Richt instituted played some part in Georgia’s sustained success, but his tendency to hire coaches who already have a lay of the land within the nation’s most competitive football conference has been one of the most important stabilizing factors of his tenure.

Spring cleaning: Quayvon Hicks 

April, 22, 2013
4/22/13
12:00
PM ET
Editor's note: Over the next couple of weeks, we'll clean out our notebook from Georgia's spring practice to tell the stories we didn't get to before the Bulldogs' G-Day game. Today we begin with fullback Quayvon Hicks.

ATHENS, Ga. -- Quayvon Hicks played little as a true freshman in 2012, but it wasn’t exactly for the typical reason that plagues a college football newcomer.

Hicks admits that his knowledge of Georgia’s playbook was adequate, but his confidence was lacking. The fullback believes that prevented him from playing with the physicality one might expect from a 270-pound player at his position.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Top RB gets Georgia offer he wanted 

March, 11, 2013
3/11/13
9:00
AM ET
ATHENS, Ga. -- The last time a running back traveled more than 600 miles to play for the University of Georgia, Knowshon Moreno wound up hurdling defenders and dropping jaws with his combination of balance and speed. After redshirting his freshman season, he played only two years before heading to the NFL draft, leaving Georgia fans wondering what could have been.

Now another top running back from the Mid-Atlantic region is looking at the Bulldogs, and now that Shai McKenzie (Washington, Penn./Washington) has the Georgia offer he wanted, maybe history will repeat itself.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

ATHENS, Ga. -- After his 2012 offense set several school records, Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo received a three-year contract that includes a $240,000 raise, pushing his guaranteed salary to $575,000 annually.

“I think he deserved a three-year deal because that’s really what’s happening out there in this league,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said before Thursday’s practice. “And his salary’s very competitive with his peers and I think he’s earned that.”

Mike Bobo
Jeff Vest/Icon SMIGeorgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo received a three-year contract that included a $240,000 raise.
Bobo and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham now both are operating on three-year deals. Bobo had been coaching on renewable one-year contracts since joining Richt’s first UGA staff in 2001.

According to salary figures that UGA released to ESPN.com on Thursday, Bobo and each of Richt’s nine assistant coaches received salary increases following a 2012 campaign when the Bulldogs fell just short of an appearance in the BCS championship game.

“I think we’ve got a great staff and I want to keep them,” Richt said. “But it’s a very competitive league in a lot of areas. There’s the competition on the field, there’s the competition in recruiting and then sometimes there’s a competition to hang on to your assistant coaches.”

Offensive line coach Will Friend received a $90,000 raise, pushing his annual salary to $300,000 per year. Friend also added the title of running game coordinator to his resume.

Meanwhile, wide receivers coach Tony Ball received a $50,000 increase to $260,000.

Each of Georgia’s remaining assistants received $25,000 raises: Grantham (to $850,000), inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti (to $285,000), defensive backs coach Scott Lakatos (to $235,000), tight ends coach John Lilly (to $235,000) and running backs coach Bryan McClendon (to $235,000).

New defensive line coach Chris Wilson is scheduled to make $250,000 in 2013.

“It was good for them, but it was good for me as well because I really think these guys are tremendous,” Richt said of the staff raises. “I think every one of them are and over time, I want to continue to try to bless them the best we can financially and stay as competitive as we can in that area.”

Allen-Williams talks Georgia offer, timing 

February, 12, 2013
2/12/13
9:00
AM ET
Last Wednesday, Georgia picked up two additional signees to its Class of 2013 in DeVondre Seymour and Davin Bellamy. The coaching staff had hoped for at least three more top talents to join them but they found themselves in second place all three times.

Instead of licking their wounds on what was a disappointing day, the coaches were on the phones, working toward the 2014 class.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Watch List athlete Autry likes plan 

February, 3, 2013
2/03/13
8:29
PM ET
ESPN Watch List athlete Myles Autry (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) has close to 20 offers, some as a running back, some as a receiver but most are just as an all-around offensive threat. He plays the slot, runs out of the backfield and even plays quarterback occasionally for the state champion Blue Devils. Where does Autry hope to line up in college? Simply put, everywhere.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

DawgNation on the radio: Garner to AU

December, 21, 2012
12/21/12
12:41
PM ET
Longtime Georgia recruiting coordinator, assistant head coach and defensive line coach Rodney Garner accepted a job with Auburn University on Thursday night. What does that mean for the Bulldogs with less than seven weeks until signing day? DawgNation joined ESPN’s Athens, Ga., affiliate 960 The Ref to talk about that and more. Some of the topics discussed ...
  • What effect will Garner’s departure have on recruiting?
  • Will Todd Grantham take over the defensive line?
  • Who will be the next recruiting coordinator?
  • Will this hurt Georgia’s chances with Montravius Adams and Reuben Foster?
  • Could Mark Richt elect to hire a special teams coach?

Listen to the show here.

Weekend rewind: Georgia 

December, 10, 2012
12/10/12
9:00
AM ET
ATHENS, Ga. -- The Georgia coaching staff was on the road Friday, as usual, checking in on commits and targets alike. In what had to the most fortuitous turn of events of the day, tight ends coach John Lilly and inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti just happened to be stopping by Auburn (Ala.) High School right after the nation’s No. 1 inside linebacker, Reuben Foster, decommitted from Auburn University. Both coaches met with Foster, who reopened his recruitment, citing reports that his mentor Trooper Taylor had been let go at Auburn.

Later that night, another coach would also prove lucky as defensive line coach Rodney Garner was on hand to congratulate Montravius Adams (Vienna, Ga./Dooly County) after the top-ranked defensive tackle won the chance to play for the Georgia Class A championship.

Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and running backs coach Bryan McClendon were on hand to see the Bulldogs’ top tailback target, Alvin Kamara (Norcross, Ga./Norcross), win his semifinal game as well. Alabama’s Kirby Smart was also there, and the battle for Kamara is still neck and neck.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Drive Through: Rankings Reaction
Brad Edwards and Antonietta Collins react to the College Football Playoff rankings that were released on Tuesday night.
VIDEO PLAYLIST video

SEC SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 11/1