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Georgia’s Coaching Carousel: Dell McGee Departs

RBU needs a new running back coach. Georgia’s coaching carousel continues to spin, with Dell McGee being named the new head coach at Georgia State. His departure marks the fifth Georgia staff member to leave. With Spring ball quickly approaching, the new faces on the staff will mark a change from the 2023 season. Unlike most teams in college football, Georgia has had relatively strong staff continuity in the last few years.

Kirby Smart stressed the importance of retention for sustaining success at SEC Media Days last July. “Every full-time coach on this year’s staff – listen to me carefully – every full-time coach on this year’s staff was on last year’s staff.” Sure, they lost Todd Monken to the Ravens after their second national championship, but his replacement, Mike Bobo, was already on staff. Smart has already filled three holes in his staff. His doing so provides key insights into how he looks to replace the other two.

Georgia’s Coaching Carousel

Georgia’s coaching carousel kicked into high gear after the February National Signing Day. Here is a look at the three recent departures left most recently.

Dell McGee

McGee’s departure is not a shock or unexpected for Smart or Georgia. It is probably a season or two overdue. McGee was the run-game coordinator and running backs coach for the Bulldogs. His resume speaks for itself. His running backs are some of the who’s who in Georgia history and some of the top running backs in the NFL: Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, James Cook, Zamir White, and D’Andre Swift. McGee’s biggest hole, though, will be in recruiting. The Columbus, GA native was a high school coach in the state before starting his college coaching career at Georgia Southern and Auburn and before coming to Athens. Look for Georgia to make a splash to replace McGee.

Bryan McClendon

Last week, wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon announced he was leaving to take the wide receiver coaching job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. McClelond was in his second stint with Georgia and was the team’s passing game coordinator in 2023. He served as the interim head coach for the team’s bowl game after Mark Richt was fired at the end of the 2015 season. Like McGee, McClendon had a talented wide receiver room as coach of the Bulldogs.  McClendon is a dynamic recruiter credited for bringing in Sony Michel, Nick Chubb, and Lorenzo Carter.

Georgia fans on Twitter and message boards have been clamoring for Smart to bring back Georgia legend Hines Ward, who is currently at Flordia Atlantic. Two other names to watch here: Joe Cox and James Coley. Cox, the former Georgia quarterback, recently left Alabama for Ole Miss. Coley, a former coach and offensive coordinator under Smart, recently took a new job with South Carolina.

Scott Cochran

Smart announced on Valentine’s Day that Special Teams coordinator Scott Cochran resigned to pursue other opportunities. (No word on if it was done with a box of chocolates or candy hearts.) Cochran was a big win for Smart when he came to Athens via Tuscaloosa in 2020. At the time, he was considered Nick Saban’s right-hand man and a key component of the Tide’s winning culture. Georgia was his first on-field coaching position, having served mostly as a strength and conditioning coach. Cochran stepped away from the team during the 2021 season but returned to coach the special teams unit for UGA’s 2022 national championship run. Kirk Benedict was named the Bulldogs’ Special Teams Coordinator after serving two years as the team’s Special Teams Analyst after Cochran’s departure. Before coming to Georgia, Benedict served as Duke’s Special Teams Coordinator and Recruiting Coordinator.

What We Can Learn From the New Hires

You are expected to know how to coach, but you better be able to recruit. See the Benedict hire above. This will be Smart’s mindset as he looks to replace McGee and McClendon. Here is a quick look at how Smart handled Georgia’s coaching carousel earlier this offseason.

Donte Williams

Donte Williams came in at the end of the 2023 season to replace Fran Brown. Brown joined Georgia in 2022 and made his presence felt in recruiting. Before taking the job in Syracuse, he earned the title of 247Sports’ National Recruiter of the Year and recruited seven players for Georgia’s top-ranked class. Williams is no stranger to recruiting and has done his best work on the West Coast at USC and Oregon.

Travaris Robinson

Smart pounced on Saban’s retirement from Alabama by bringing Travaris Robinson on staff. Will Muschamp stepped aside to become a defensive analyst to make room for Robinson. “T-Rob” has a long history of coaching in the SEC and is one of the nation’s top recruiters. It was wise for Smart to strike and convince Robinson to leave Tuscaloosa for Athens quickly. While it may not have brought Caleb Downs with him, Robinson no doubt will continue to help Georgia remain ELITE in recruiting.

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


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