Georgia's Search Winds Down

ATHENS – Georgia's defensive coordinator search is winding down.

Here is a recap of what has been a confusing and long search that appears to be coming to an end soon.

December 2, 2009Georgia head coach Mark Richt fires defensive coordinator Willie Martinez, defensive ends coach Jon Fabris and linebackers coach John Jancek. The trio had been out on the road recruiting for the Bulldogs the day before, but Richt let the trio know that they would not be retained only four days after the end of the season.

December 3, 2009 – Initial reports regarding the front runners for the Georgia job include Kansas State's Vic Koenning, Virginia Tech's Bud Foster and leading candidate Kirby Smart, from Alabama. Manny Diaz, Ellis Johnson, Brian VanGorder and Tommy Tuberville are all names that are thrown around, but never gain traction during the search.

December 3, 2009 – Athletics Director Damon Evans tells David Hale: "I told Mark to go out and try to find the best coaches possible and that we'll be very competitive and help him out and do what we need to do to attract the top candidates here. I've always said I want us to be competitive salary-wise in the marketplace, and that's not going to hold us back."

December 3, 2009 - Brian VanGorder tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he is not interested in the Georgia job.

December 4, 2009 – Martinez, Fabris and Jancek each declined coaching Georgia in the upcoming bowl game. Instead, the defense is headed by defensive line coach Rodney Garner and graduate assistants Todd Hartley and Mitch Doolittle.

December 5, 2009 – Smart and Alabama beat Florida to win the SEC championship.

December 6, 2009 – Georgia is selected to play in the Independence Bowl.

December 8, 2009 – Smart wins the Broyles Award, which is given to the top assistant coach in the country. In his post-award press conference, Smart does not discuss the Georgia job one way or another: "I haven't really thought about it, to be honest. All I've done since the game against Florida is get ready and go recruit. I'm happy at Alabama and my wife's happy at Alabama. We're not looking to go anywhere."

December 10, 2009 – Damon Evans tells Dean Legge: "I know that he's out there doing his job, and I have the utmost confidence that he will. We are going to do what it takes to get the right people. I think when you are paying salaries it is a case-by-case basis and you pay on the credentials that individual has."

December 14, 2009 – Reports surface that Richt has had discussions with Virginia Tech's Foster about the job at Georgia. The Washington Post quotes Foster as saying that he's staying in Blacksburg: "Coach Beamer has been extremely good to me," Foster said. "I want to ride this thing out with him. We've been doing this along time together and there's not reason to stop there, and let's finish this thing. It's a good deal all the way around. I'm extremely pleased."

December 16, 2009 – Meeting with the media for the first time since he fired three coaches, Richt sheds little light on the search process. "I'm just going to tell you that it's a private search," Richt said Wednesday during the football team's bowl game press conference. "I know you want to hear more as far as the process goes, but the bottom line is I am going to be the one making the final decision on it."

December 18, 2009Illinois hires Vic Koenning as their defensive coordinator. The night before it appears Koenning may be headed to Athens, but that never materializes. At his press conference, Koenning says that he did talk with Georgia about the opening in Athens. "There was some dialogue [with Georgia]. It made for an interesting last 16, 18 hours."

December 28, 2009 – Georgia routs Texas A&M 44-21 in the Independence Bowl.

December 30, 2009 – A day after the Bulldogs arrive in Athens, John Chavis, the defensive coordinator at LSU, is sought by Georgia. Chavis does not refute interest in the Georgia job saying: "We're excited about what we're doing at LSU. I'll talk as long as you want to about LSU and its players. I'll be happy to do that."

It was reported by The Daily Advertiser in Louisiana that "Georgia may be offering Chavis in the neighborhood of $600,000. He made approximately $500,000 at LSU last season. As of Wednesday afternoon, LSU was trying to match Georgia's offer to keep Chavis, an LSU athletic department official said."

December 31, 2009 – Richt again states that he will not discuss the vacant position with the media: "As far as the search is concerned, I am not taking any pleasure at all in what people might be going through out there. The only comment I can make on that is that when I do have that decision made and it is ready for public consumption we will let everyone know."

Various media reports that same day that Chavis will stay with LSU. At the same time, Dallas Cowboys' defensive line coach Todd Grantham, who has reportedly been spotlighted by Virginia Tech's Foster as a solid candidate, becomes yet another name tied with the search.

January 3, 2010 – Richt, commenting publically on a particular person for the first time during the entire search, says that current defensive line coach Rodney Garner is not a candidate for the job. "Rodney is not a candidate for the job and he knows that. We're just still in the search."

January 6, 2010 – Kirby Smart is quoted by Chris Low (ESPN) as saying that "You don't ever know what's going to happen, but I'm certainly excited about the opportunity to be back at Alabama. We've got a lot of good players coming back."

But Smart admits that he has, at least at some point recently, spoken with Richt. According to Low's report Smart says that Richt "not offered me anything." Smart did say that he's spoken with Richt, but "I haven't really talked to Mark much."

January 7, 2010 – Alabama wins the national title.

January 8, 2010 – Smart and company return from the Rose Bowl, and a new whirlwind of speculation begins.

January 9, 2010 – It is reported that Georgia has given Smart a written offer worth in excess of $750,000 annually for a term of least three, but probably four years. Dawg Post is told Alabama will not match that offer, but the next day ESPN reporter Mark Schlabach writes that "a source with knowledge of the situation" says that Alabama will "do everything necessary to keep him."

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