(Photo by John Kelley/UGA Sports Communications)
Grantham didn’t quite say the same to reporters Wednesday afternoon.
A lengthy subplot now weeks in the making has overshadowed Georgia’s festivities for National Signing Day. Grantham chose his words carefully in publicly addressing reports that have tied him to NFL defensive coordinator jobs with the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints.
While saying repeatedly that he expected to remain with the Bulldogs, he also never firmly stated that he will be back next season. Such a coy response continued to leave the door open for this storyline to continue for Georgia’s program in the days ahead.
“What is happens is if there’s inquiries about jobs, you can say is it something you’re interested in, yes or no, off a phone call,” Grantham said. “Sometimes it may take a little bit more than that. But really, it’s nothing more than that. I have a good job now. I enjoy my job. I understand my contractual obligations if I felt I needed to do something (as far as notifying AD Greg McGarity).
"But right now, I fully expect to be here. We’ll just have to play it from there.”
After weeks of reports that Grantham was a candidate for the still-vacant defensive coordinator job in Philadelphia, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported Tuesday night that Grantham would interview Thursday for the DC job with the Saints.
Asked specifically about that report, Grantham didn’t deny it, though when asked if he aspires to be an NFL coordinator again, he said, “Not necessarily.”
“I know a lot of people,” Grantham said. “I get a lot of inquiries all the time, and there’s no way that I’m going to comment on any particular one, because if I did I couldn’t do my job, which I’ve got to get to mats (team mat drills) here in about 30 minutes. I’m just going to leave it at that.”
Obviously, the speculation about Grantham’s future hit during a tricky part of the recruiting calendar, with the Bulldogs trying to close a 2013 class in which they ultimately missed out late on quite a few prominent targets.
One of the two players Georgia did add Wednesday, however, was Bellamy, an outside linebacker recruited personally by Grantham.
After Tuesday night’s report, Bellamy and his family reached out to Grantham and other UGA coaches and evidently were satisfied with the answers.
“He told me last night he wasn't going anywhere,” Bellamy said of Grantham. “He told me again this morning he wasn't going anywhere. All I can do is take him at his word.”
Signs continue to indicate, however, that Grantham is going to see where this takes him, perhaps back to the NFL.
When job speculation came up after the 2012 season, Grantham issued a statement through UGA Sports Communications to squash the rumors and indicate that he would remain in his current role.
So the lack of any public acknowledgement from Grantham this time was startling given the response last season.
“After thinking about it, I thought that was a mistake,” Grantham said the previous statement he released. “It seems that things keep popping up from time to time. So I think the best thing to do is let things be as they are and move on. … I’m not going to respond to all the rumors and innuendos, because it’s very difficult to do that all the time. I’ll just say you leave it as it is.”
This time around, Grantham says the job topic “didn’t come up with a lot of different guys” during recruiting in recent weeks.
“What I told guys is I love Georgia,” Grantham said. “I think this is a great place. My family loves it. I love it, and I fully expect to be here. I told those guys, but as coaches if things come up, you’re always going to say, ‘Hey, what’s best for your family,’ and see what happens. Nothing has come up for me from the standpoint of I feel like I’ve got to contractually say something (to McGarity). This is a good place. I’ve got a good job, and I look forward to coaching those guys.”
So does that mean he told recruits he’ll be back next season?
“I told guys that I fully expect to be here and I’d like to be here,” Grantham said when pressed. “You can take that for whatever you want to.”
UGA head coach Mark Richt was similarly cagey Wednesday when it came to the Grantham issue.
Asked if he felt the loss of defensive line coach Rodney Garner and the rumbles about Grantham hurt Georgia’s recruiting efforts in 2013, Richt replied, “I don’t know.”
“I know that we've got great coaches on our staff,” Richt said. “Every single offseason somebody is calling me about somebody. 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.”
Pressed specifically about the report on Grantham and the Saints, Richt said, “Here's the deal on that: That kind of stuff is very common. It happens with a lot of our coaches every offseason. My goal today is to focus on this class, focus on these guys, and there may or may not be time to talk about the other.