UGA announced yesterday that Kirby Smart has chosen three more staff members. NCAA rules permit each school to have nine assistant coaches, With the most recent announcement, Coach Smart has two more positions to fill and one of those will be the defensive coordinator. Of course, one of the already announced hires could be named to coordinate the defense, but the most likely scenario is that Smart’s choice for DC is still actively coaching elsewhere.
If my speculation is correct and of the two remaining positions, one will be the defensive coordinator, Kirby Smart must decide if the other job will go to a dedicated special teams coach. During Mark Richt’s tenure as head coach, UGA split special teams oversight among various assistant coaches. Recently, Richt kept to the concept of divided responsibility with tight ends coach John Lilly serving as the point man for special teams planning.
If Georgia does go with a special teams coordinator, one position coach will have to add another position group to his coaching workload. A likely spot for position group combination is to merge wide receivers with tight ends but linebackers, currently consisting of two groups (inside and outside) could also be combined.
The decision facing Kirby Smart is one of allocation of scarce resources – in this case, coaches. Is it better to risk losing some coaching detail in one position to gain a special teams coach? Each game begins with a special teams opportunity as do almost all offensive possessions. Big plays are momentum changers and big plays by special teams seems to be especially useful momentum boosters.
Would a dedicated special teams coach produce enough change in performance to risk combining two other areas of the team?
Coach Smart said during his initial press conference in Athens that he has not decided the special teams coach question, but that decision has probably been made by now. We will know the Smart choice very soon.