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In praise of Todd Grantham, the game's overlooked coordinator

Todd Grantham

Six coordinators in college football earn $900,000 or more a year. Five are universally regarded as among the best in their profession. And then there's Todd Grantham.

Grantham surprised a lot of people in the college football world by leaving Georgia for Bobby Petrino's new staff at Louisville, and earning a raise from $850,000 to $975,000 annually in the process. When Georgia hired Jeremy Pruitt away from Florida State, it was widely considered that the Bulldogs turned a coaching defection into an improvement.

The universal thought is Georgia won the coaching carousel, because the Bulldogs virtually stole Pruitt – a major upgrade over his predecessor – away from FSU. - Jan. 16

Then there was the story in August that Petrino was thinking of firing Grantham, and would have if not for his contract. (Grantham spoke with FootballScoop to refute this report.)

It wasn't a good offseason for Grantham Inc.'s public relations department.

And then the season started, and not only has Louisville absorbed the loss of two first-round picks and adjusted to a new scheme, the Cardinals have maintained or improved their considerable numbers from last season's 12-1 season.

2013

2014

Scoring Defense

12.2 (2nd)

14.6 (4th)

Total Defense

251.5 (1st)

245.8 (1st)

Yards Per Play

4.2 (3rd)

3.91 (2nd)

Rushing Defense

80.69 (1st)

68.75 (1st)

Yards Per Carry

2.58 (1st)

2.31 (1st)

Pass Efficiency D

99.17 (4th)

96.24 (2nd)

Yards Per Attempt

6.0 (t-11th)

5.3 (t-3rd)

First Downs/Game

14.1 (1st)

13 (1st)

Sacks/Game

3.31 (1st)

3.5 (7th)

3rd Down Defense

26.74% (1st)

23.97% (2nd)

Plays of 10+ Yards

9.92/game

9.75/game

Takeaways

2.08/game

2.25/game

Red Zone Defense

68.42% (5th)

70% (9th)

Good as those numbers look, we can't praise Grantham without also mentioning the roster Charlie Strong and Vance Bedford left behind. Those two left the cupboard stocked with groceries.

But heading into a huge Thursday night game with No. 2 Florida State, it's Grantham's defense and not Petrino's offense that has given Louisville its status as this week'strendy upset pick.

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I'm not saying Louisville's impressive numbers are going to remain that way throughout the season, I'm not saying Louisville is going to win tonight, and I'm not trying to argue Pruitt wasn't an upgrade over Grantham in Athens.

But after an offseason where he had his proverbial bags packed for him out of Athens and was supposedly nearly sent packing out of Louisville, Grantham's defense has proven Louisville's best attribute, and Grantham has proven worthy of his highly-paid colleagues.

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