ATHENS - The news of Scott Lakatos' departure was a bit abrupt, coming at 8 p.m. on a Thursday night, but that doesn't mean it was shocking. Far from it.
This has been in the works for awhile, from what I'm told, and it may have happened - perhaps even probably still would have - had Georgia's secondary not struggled so much this year.
Personal reasons were given as the reason for Lakatos stepping down, and it's a very legitimate reason, according to a couple sources within the program. Yes, the secondary had a rough season, and yes, I do think a fresh approach with some of the youngsters will be good. But one source described to me how hard Lakatos has worked, whether it was on the field or in recruiting. He's a respected coach, and the decision to leave appears to be mostly his own. If this was a firing, it would have happened after the Georgia Tech game.
The timing is curious - my sources didn't have much idea on that either - although Mark Richt did meet with Greg McGarity this week as part of their year-end review. So maybe that meeting had to happen before this was announced.
That also doesn't mean that a search for a new secondary coach is suddenly beginning. Lakatos leaving has been a possibility for awhile now, and frankly I was a bit surprised it wasn't announced after the Georgia Tech game. I suspect that Todd Grantham has been laying some groundwork for awhile, and something could happen relatively quickly.
As for potential replacements, I've thrown out Manny Diaz's name (the former Texas defensive coordinator, not the longtime Georgia tennis coach) because he's available, and there is a connection with Richt. That doesn't mean it will be him. Grantham could very well reach back into his NFL contacts; that's how Kirk Olivadotti ended up being hired three years ago. Or it could be the ex-coordinator who's available, the way Chris Wilson was hired last year.
I do think ultimately a fresh approach will benefit the members of the secondary, in much the same way the defensive linemen benefited with a fresh approach with Chris Wilson this past season. But that doesn't mean the previous coach did a bad job either. Rodney Garner did a good job and it benefited Georgia and Auburn when he moved on and Wilson replaced him.
The same could happen this time.
Bobo not going to Statesboro
Georgia Southern has announced the hiring of Willie Fritz as head coach, after Fritz spent the past four years as head coach at Sam Houston State.
It does not appear that Mike Bobo, Georgia's offensive coordinator, ever was a candidate for the job. There were two reports days before the Gator Bowl that Bobo would interview after the game. But UGA athletics director Greg McGarity said Friday that Bobo did not notify him of any talks with Georgia Southern, which he must do per his contract.