Who will Smart hire to replace Tucker as defensive coordinator?

After first being reported on Friday night, Colorado finally made its head coaching hire official, as the Buffaloes announced former Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker as their next head coach.

Tucker has been the defensive coordinator for the past three seasons at Georgia, arriving the same year as Kirby Smart did. DawgNation’s Chip Towers wrote about the impact Tucker had on the Bulldogs while he was in Athens which you can read here.

Looking forward, someone will need to replace Tucker as Georgia’s defensive coordinator. Coordinator hires are always a big deal, as a bad one could set the program back, as Georgia fans well know when Mark Richt made the decision to hire Brian Schottenheimer as the offensive coordinator prior to the 2015 season. This will also be the first time that Smart has had to replace one of his coordinators, as Tucker and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney have both been with Smart since the start of his time in Athens.

But with the Georgia job being what it is — one of the best in the country — there should be a number of viable candidates for the job. Let’s take a look at some of the names and candidates that could replace Tucker as Georgia’s defensive coordinator:

Glenn Schumann, Georgia inside linebackers coach

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Like Tucker, Schumann has been with Smart since the beginning, as he also came over from Alabama after the 2015 season. Schumann has done an excellent job developing Georgia’s inside linebackers, as he helped turn Roquan Smith into the best linebacker in the country a season ago.

He’s also developed players like Tae Crowder and Monty Rice, both players were 3-star recruits, into starting SEC linebackers. We also saw freshman Channing Tindall improve over the course of the year, as he played well against Alabama on Saturday.

Schumann is also an excellent recruiter, as he’s served as the primary recruiter for the likes of Quay Walker, Richard LeCounte and 2019 5-star commit Nolan Smith.

The drawbacks against Schumann are that Georgia would still need to hire a defensive backs coach, as Tucker also coached that position, and his age. Schumann is only 28 years old, and would be one of the youngest coordinators in all of college football. But as Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay has shown, age doesn’t matter in the coaching world. If you can coach, you can coach.

Schumann should be seen as the top internal candidate for the job. Another name to watch on Georgia’s staff would be Dan Lanning, who just finished his first season as outside linebackers coach.

Derrick Ansley, Oakland Raiders defensive backs coach

Ansley replaced Tucker as Alabama’s defensive backs coach at Alabama in 2016 and he could very well do it again at Georgia, should that be the direction Smart wants to go.

While he is currently the Raiders defensive backs coach, much of Ansley’s background comes in college, as he has been a defensive backs coach at Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama. Last offseason he was set to take the defensive coordinator job at Colorado State, where former UGA alum Mike Bobo is the coach, before ultimately joining Jon Gruden’s staff in Oakland.

Like Schumann, Ansley is regarded as an excellent recruiter and he has never been a defensive coordinator before. But Ansley could fill both of Tucker’s roles, given his extensive work in the secondary.

Ansley seems like a logical external replacement for Tucker, though it is worth keeping in mind that he and Smart did not overlap at Alabama. Another external name we’ll mention is Alabama co-defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach Pete Golding. But he seems unlikely given that he’s already turned down the defensive coordinator position at both Ole Miss and Oklahoma according to Football Scoop.

Kevin Sherrer, Tennessee defensive coordinator

Georgia fans should remember this name, as Sherrer was Georgia’s outside linebackers coach before joining Jeremy Pruitt’s staff last offseason. As opposed to Schumann and Ansley, Sherrer has worked as a defensive coordinator before, albeit just one year at Tennessee. The Volunteers finished 9th in total defense, and 12th in scoring defense in the SEC this past season, but those numbers may be more indicative of the lack of talent in Knoxville than Sherrer’s ability as a coach

Sherrer knows the Georgia program, but the biggest question with him would be whether or not he wants to leave Tennessee after just one season. The Volunteers are still a bit of mess right now, as it went 5-7 and lost by double digits to Missouri and Vanderbilt to end the season. Hiring Sherrer may also be a more expensive option, given that he is under contract at Tennessee through the 2020 season and made $705,000 last year.

Georgia is undoubtedly a better job than Tennessee at the moment, but would Smart really bring in some who left his staff just a season ago?

Greg Schiano, Ohio State defensive coordinator 

This name won’t be very popular, given that Tennessee fans openly revolted last year when Schiano was reportedly going to be their next head coach. But as a defensive coordinator, he’s still a very good option.

He doesn’t have the recruiting acumen that Schumann, Sherrer and Ansley have, but in his time at Ohio State, he’s seen four of his defensive backs get taken in the first round of the NFL draft. That’s a pretty effective sell to recruits, especially the likes 2019 4-star recruits Tyrique Stevenson and Kaiir Elam.

Schiano current employment status is unknown, as Ohio State promoted offensive coordinator Ryan Day to replace Urban Meyer. The Ohio State defense also took a step back this past season, and is a reason why it isn’t in the college football playoff. And Schiano very much wants to be a head coach as soon as he possibly cane be again. He wouldn’t be the most popular hire, but he’s the most experienced hire of the names listed by a wide margin.

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