ATHENS, Ga. — A day after Todd Grantham helped welcome a new class of Georgia recruits, the defensive coordinator interviewed for the same job with the New Orleans Saints.
The NFL team said Grantham met Thursday with head coach Sean Payton but had no additional comment on the search to replace Steve Spagnuolo, who was fired last month after the Saints gave up more yards than any team in NFL history.
“In accordance with his contractual obligation, Todd Grantham notified me Wednesday night of the New Orleans Saints’ interest in interviewing him for the defensive coordinator position,” Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity said in a statement.
Grantham said earlier Wednesday that he’s happy at Georgia and expects to be coaching in Athens next season — the same message he gave to the Bulldogs’ newest players.
Georgia picked up 32 players on national signing day, including 18 on the defensive side.
“I told those guys, ‘I love Georgia, I think this is a great place, my family loves it, I love it, and I fully expect to be here,’” Grantham said. “I told also told those guys that, as a coach, if things come up, you’re always going to see what’s best for your family and see what happens.”
At the time, he wouldn’t address reports that he was already planning to interview with the Saints, who also have a reported interest in former Dallas defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Grantham said nothing had come up that would require him, under his contract, to notify Georgia he was looking at a similar job in the NFL.
“I have a good job now,” he said. “I enjoy my job. I understand my contractual obligations if I felt like I needed to do something. But right now, I fully expect to be here.”
A few hours later, Grantham told his boss that he would be interviewing with the Saints.
The 46-year-old Grantham was coaching in the NFL when coach Mark Richt hired him to run the Bulldogs’ defense in 2010, specifically to oversee a switch to the 3-4 alignment. The coordinator’s stock rose dramatically the following season when Georgia reached the Southeastern Conference championship game and ranked fifth nationally in total defense, allowing just 277.2 yards per game.
This past season, Georgia won another SEC East title but slipped to 32nd in the rankings (357.8 yards), despite having Jarvis Jones and several other NFL prospects. Also, Grantham has received criticism for his fiery demeanor, which included giving a choke sign to a Florida kicker before a game-winning field goal in 2010 and getting into a postgame altercation with Vanderbilt coach James Franklin in 2011.
Still, Grantham was mentioned as a possible candidate with the Philadelphia Eagles and now seems to be under serious consideration in New Orleans.