A prominent Hall of Famer has joined the Kirby Smart to Georgia bandwagon.
Smart, currently Alabama's defensive coordinator, is a Georgia native and alum and coached the Bulldogs' running backs in 2005. Because of his Georgia ties, he's become the top name on many Bulldog fans' wish lists for the same position. Those Georgia fans now include former Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants quarterback Fran Tarkenton.
— Fran Tarkenton (@Fran_Tarkenton) January 13, 2014
Now a successful entrepreneur, Tarkenton played quarterback for the Bulldogs from 1958-60. He was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection in the NFL and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame the following year.
Georgia's defensive coordinator position came open when Todd Grantham left to go to Louisville. With his departure, Smart immediately became the top prospect for the job, even if his return to the school may seem like a stretch.
Smart has long been considered to be ready for a head coaching job and let's face it, there aren't many places to move up to for another assistant coaching job when you're at Alabama. While former Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier might have gotten a nice raise when he left the school last week to head to Michigan, Smart is currently the highest paid defensive coach in college football. His contract is set to pay him $1.35 million in 2014 and 2015.
The $1.2 million he made in 2013 would have made him the 67th highest paid FBS head coach (out of 119).
Grantham was making $850,000 as Georgia's defensive coordinator. (He'll make $1 million at Louisville.) Would Georgia consider offering $1.5 million to an assistant coach? It's also essential to note that Georgia offered the position to Smart once before in 2010. He turned them down despite a hefty salary increase.
At Georgia, Smart or whoever takes the job would have a hefty rebuilding job on defense. The Bulldogs gave up almost 30 points per game last season.
Plus, there's a perception among many at Georgia -- fair or not -- that head coach Mark Richt is perenially on the hot seat. His job security is certainly less stable than Nick Saban at Alabama. Would a lateral move with a salary bump even be enticing?
Tarkenton and many others at Georgia think so, especially with Nussmeier's departure. We'll find out through Georgia's coaching search how realistic those hopes are.
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