Georgia Bulldogs: Who is still coaching in the bowl game?


The Georgia Bulldogs have one more game before the Kirby Smart era officially takes over the program. Who from Mark Richt’s former staff will stay to coach in the TaxSlayer Bowl for UGA?

The Georgia Bulldogs are in the process putting together new head coach Kirby Smart’s staff for 2016. However this will not fully come together until after the bowl season. Smart will continue to serve as the defensive coordinator for the Alabama Crimson Tide under head coach Nick Saban in the 2015 College Football Playoff. Which coaches from Mark Richt’s former staff have already departed and which will still coach the Dawgs in the TaxSlayer Bowl on January 2nd versus Penn State?

According to Seth Emerson of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, we know of four former UGA football coaches that won’t take part in coaching bowl practice or take the second trip down to Jacksonville this year.

-= Related: Kevin Sherrer: Possible UGA defensive coordinator? =-

Mark Richt is obviously getting ready for his new head coaching gig at his alma mater in the University of Miami. Former defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has accepted the vacated Alabama defensive coordinator gig by Smart’s hiring to become the next head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs. Alabama is Pruitt’s alma mater and former employer as a secondary coach.

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Inside linebackers coach Mike Ekeler moves from job to job a lot and he won’t coach the Georgia Bulldogs anymore. Ekeler supposedly has another job in the mix, possibly a defensive coordinator position. If that’s the case, good by him. Lastly, nobody has seen Brian Schottenheimer in weeks at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall.

So this leaves the Georgia Bulldogs without four former coaches and here’s what interim head coach Bryan McClendon plans to do. Tight ends coach John Lilly will again serve as offensive coordinator in the bowl game. He did it at last year’s Belk Bowl when former offensive coordinator Mike Bobo went to Colorado State to become the Rams’ next head coach.

Outside linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer will serve as the defensive coordinator for the bowl game. Running backs coach Thomas Brown, offensive line coach Rob Sale, and defensive line coach Tracy Rocker will all reportedly coach through the bowl game.

Of the remaining six position coaches from Mark Richt’s staff at Georgia, it seems that two almost certainly will remain on Kirby Smart’s staff in 2016: running backs coach Thomas Brown and outside linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer. Neither has officially been extended, but both have been on the recruiting trails for the Georgia Bulldogs since Richt’s dismissal.

New offensive coordinator Jim Chaney will want Brown’s teaching skills and recruiting tactics to stay on his offensive staff. Brown played running back in 2005 when Smart was his running backs coach. He has coached four fantastic running backs in the last two years: Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement at Wisconsin in 2014 and Nick Chubb and Sony Michel at Georgia in 2015.

While there has been very little news about who Smart will want to make his defensive coordinator, an internal promotion of Kevin Sherrer now seems like a reasonable possibility. Sherrer has work in the booth the last two years, is an ace recruiter, and has coached the Dawgs’ most dynamic position of the last two years the outside linebacker/STAR.

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  • How Sherrer handles defensive play calling in the bowl game could serve as a trial run for a defensive coordinator gig with the 2016 Georgia Bulldogs. He’s already been one while at South Alabama only a few years ago.

    With the four other remaining assistants, we know that Sale’s replacement is incoming offensive line coach Sam Pittman, formerly of Arkansas. While Rocker was initially thought to remain part of Smart’s staff next year, that may not happen anymore. Both McClendon and Lilly could stay or go, but do expect at least one of them to follow Mark Richt to Coral Gables and serve as an offensive coordinator for the Miami Hurricanes. I’d hate to lose either of them, but it will happen.

    Expect the other vacancies on the coaching staff to have graduate assistants fill them temporarily. Even with all the coaching turnover in Athens, the Georgia Bulldogs are still a touchdown favorite over the Penn State Nittany Lions. James Franklin is a great head coach, but Penn State is down an offensive coordinator, too, for their bowl game.

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    I’d be surprised to see any more coaching developments with the Georgia Bulldogs between now and the end of bowl season. As of now, only Jim Chaney, Sam Pittman, and Glen Schumann are on Kirby Smart’s staff in 2016. Even if Smart retains Brown and Sherrer, that still leaves several vacancies on his first coaching staff. Go Dawgs! Beat Penn State!