So Willie Martinez, Jon Fabris, and John Jancek are all out at Georgia, per the school's official announcement. Before I get into anything else about this development, let me just say that I feel for them the way only an unemployed guy can; there's no time that's a good time to get fired, but the holidays are particularly bad, and I sincerely hope there's no gloating or glee on our message boards about their misfortune.
But it needed to happen. The average number of points we allowed got steadily higher in each year of Martinez's tenure as defensive coordinator, even if you take out short-field scores and non-offensive TDs scored by our opponents, and our yardage stats were all worse than those put up by Brian VanGorder as well. And even if you think VanGorder is an unfairly high bar for Martinez to have to clear -- which he probably is -- the trends showed VanGorder getting better over the course of his four years, while Martinez got worse over his five. Our special-teams coverage, if anything, declined even more rapidly, to the point where we were all but presenting Kentucky the ball at their 40 yard line just to stave off any chance of a big return (and even then giving one up anyway in several instances).
So bringing in some new blood, new energy, and a new mentality should be a very good thing for this program. But another good development for the program, one that may or may not get talked about as the search for new staff gets talked about in the press, is that it shows a willingness on Richt's part to make necessary changes even when he doesn't want to make them. Richt and Martinez go all the way back to their playing days at Miami in the early 1980s, and between that connection and Richt's well-known belief in the importance of staff continuity, I'm sure he would've kept Martinez on if he thought there were any way he could've done so. But in the end he recognized that the long-term strength of the program had to come before any personal loyalties, and he acted accordingly. In spite of a suspicion that he might've done so a year or two too late, I admire and appreciate him for it.
Over the next couple weeks I hope to be able to discuss some of the candidates for the now-vacant positions in greater detail, and if there are any names you'd like to throw out there for any of those jobs, realistic or not, feel free to put 'em in the comments. As for now, while I wouldn't exactly describe today as a happy day for Bulldog Nation, it's one that should renew at least a little confidence in where the program is headed.