Alabama head coach Nick Saban was in Louisville Friday to receive the Blanton Collier Award, which is presented annually to an individual that displays exemplary integrity both on and off the field.
So of course, Saban paid tribute to his former colleague now at Louisville, and “One of the best coaches I’ve ever had on any staff.”
He’s talking about former Georgia defensive coordinator, and current Louisville coordinator, Todd Grantham. (You weren’t thinking Bobby Petrino, were you?)
Grantham coached under Saban at Michigan State from 1996-98. Grantham went to the NFL, and then Georgia, before landing at Louisville.
The two haven’t met on the field since the 2012 SEC Championship Game, which Alabama won over Georgia – in heart-breaking fashion – en route to a national title.
The two then swirled in accolades. Saban called Grantham a really good coach, Grantham said “Saban has probably been as big an influence on my career as anybody.”
Things didn’t change when Saban was asked Friday about Grantham.
“I think the world of Todd,” Saban said told Louisville’s Courier-Journal.
“I know that people in Georgia criticized him a little bit,” Saban said, “but to play good defense you have to have really good players, and they really have to buy in and have the discipline to execute the scheme. Georgia always has good players, but I just think Todd is a really, really good coach. I thought he did a great job at Louisville here last year with the team that they had and had a lot of success. He’s a very innovative guy, but he’s a fundamental teacher and does a good job with players.”
With Grantham as defensive coordinator, Georgia’s total defense rankings dropped from fifth to 32nd to 45th between 2011 and 2013.