I don’t know much about Todd Grantham, but one thing’s for sure: Louisville’s new defensive coordinator has a big mouth.
At his introductory news conference January 16, the former Georgia DC decided to forgo the customary modesty and humility, and instead decided to take credit for the Bulldogs’ two SEC East titles earned during his four years there.
That’s pretty bold talk, especially from a coach with such a mediocre record. His defense was fifth nationally two years ago, but last year it dropped to 47th. We don’t know whether this past season or the one before is the true indicator of his coaching ability. But one more year like 2013 and he probably would have been fired. Judging by the laughter coming from down south, there weren’t many Bulldog fans sad to see him go.
Instead of wearing out his welcome in Athens any further, he stumbled upwards, finding himself a better deal. Hooking up with new/old Cardinal coach Bobby Petrino, Grantham upgraded from $850,000 per year to a 5-year, $5 million dollar contract.
He would have been better off keeping his mouth shut and getting to work. By spouting off, he’s abandoning the honeymoon period and inviting immediate critique. Last year’s Cardinals finished with the second-best defense in the country. Anything lower than that this year, and Grantham will have some ‘splaining to do.
And he’ll be going into spring practices already down a couple of strikes:
One, the defense will be missing several stars. Marcus Smith, a finalist for the Ted Hendrix Award honoring college football’s best defensive end, is gone. So are linebacker Preston Brown and safety Hakeem Smith. All three have used up their college eligibility and will likely be playing in the NFL this year. If that wasn’t enough, junior safety Calvin Pryor is giving up his final year of school to declare for the NFL draft, where he is projected to be selected in the first round.
Two, Grantham runs a 3-4 defense, in opposition to the 4-3 the Cardinals ran the past several years. Until he gets his own people in, he’ll be trying to run his defense with a roster build for another scheme. In other words, round peg-square hole.
The cupboard’s not totally bare. There is still some talent. Several talented underclassmen are returning, and there’s plenty of depth. But by opening his mouth, Grantham made himself an easy target if Louisville stumbles early.
Confidence is good. But like Louisville’s own Muhammad Ali said, “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.”