By Garrett Shearman:
Jim Chaney, Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks:
Chaney was hired at Pitt at the end of 2014 in a similar situation: Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi left the Spartans to take the head coaching vacancy at Pitt; when the defensive mastermind Narduzzi needed an offensive coach to see out his vision of the team, he called upon Chaney. Now it appears that Chaney got an offer from Smart and Georgia that he perceived to be a better one, and he decided to leave Pitt and Narduzzi after less than a year on campus.
Chaney has a long history of offensive coordination and position coaching, dating back to his days as an offensive assistant at Cal State Fullerton from 1985-1992. He spent time as a graduate assistant at Wyoming before acting as OL coach there from 1993-1996, at which point he was offered the offensive coordinator position at Purdue. At Purdue, Coach Chaney ran a modified spread offensive that fans dubbed “basketball on grass,” scoring quickly, efficiently, and often on quick strikes. These Purdue teams effectively displayed Chaney’s offensive philosophy at work: move downfield quickly, share the ball around, get the ball to your best players in crunch time, and if turnovers are avoided then the result will be positive.
In 2006, Chaney accepted a job coaching OL and TE’s for the St. Louis Rams, where he coached for three years. After accepting a job as Lane Kiffin’s offensive coordinator at Tennessee, Chaney remarked that his time in the NFL awarded him a greater appreciation for the pro-style offense as opposed to the incarnation of the spread offense he had run for years. This change in philosophy showed, and Kiffin and Chaney ran an almost exclusively pro-style offense in Knoxville. Kiffin Left, Dooley was hired and quickly fired, and in in the last regular season game 2012 Chaney won his first and only game as an interim head coach before departing for Arkansas. His tenure at Arkansas, though relatively successful, was marred by what were rumored to be continued disagreements between he and Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema. Chaney then took the opportunity to flee for Pitt, where he ran a mixed pro-style/spread offense.
Chaney has coached a wide variety of NFL players, perhaps most notably quarterbacks Drew Brees (Perdue, San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints) and Kyle Orton (Purdue, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos).
Sam Pittman, Offensive Line:
Sam Pittman arrives in Athens with more experience than any of the new additions, having coached football at some level for 32 years. After several years in high school coaching, Pittman became an offensive line coach at Hutchinson Community College before being named the head coach in 1992. After leaving Hutchinson in 1993, Coach Pittman spent short stints as an assistant at Northern Illinois, Cincinnati, Oklahoma, Western Michigan, Mizzou, and Kansas before finding a home as the OL coach back at Northern Illinois from 2003-06. In 2007, Pittman was named the offensive line coach at North Carolina, where he coached until 2011. In 2012, he was hired to overhaul Tennessee’s offensive line after what had been a tumultuous start by then-head coach Derek Dooley. Dooley was fired and incoming coach Butch Jones chose not to retain Pittman, who landed at Arkansas in 2013 with recurring colleague Jim Chaney.
Coach Pittman earns nearly universal praise of his coaching abilities; in hiring Pittman, head coach Kirby Smart remarked, “it’s a common thing when you call around about Sam…it’s how great of a person he is, how much he cares for his players, and how much his players care for him.” Kirby continued, “Every reference the guy had was amazing.”
But it isn’t just his relationship with his players that makes Pittman a great hire—his units’ performances over the years speak for themselves. In each of the past four seasons, a Pittman-coached OL has been the SEC leader in fewest sacks allowed. In 2015, the Razorbacks’ OL gave up just 1.0 sacks per game on the season. In 2014, it was 1.03. For 2013 and 2012, it was .67 each year. And not only did these offensive lines provide supreme pass protection, but also run-blocked their way to a six-yard-per-carry average run play (Remember this team produced two 1000-yard rushers behind this line in 2014). Why Butch Jones didn’t keep Pittman is beyond me, but I would like to personally send Butch a fruit basket thanking him for it.
In his coaching career, Pittman has coached eight offensive lineman drafted into the NFL, most recently including first round selections Ju’wuan James (Tennessee, Miami Dolphins) and Jonathan Cooper (North Carolina, Arizona Cardinals), and possibly some of the draft-eligible Arkansas lineman who just finished their 2015 campaign.
Dell McGee, Running Backs:
Dell McGee comes to UGA with only a three years of collegiate coaching experience, the fewest of any of the new additions on staff. The Columbus, Georgia native coached his hometown Carver-Columbus HS from 2005 to 2012, posting an overall record of 88-19, leading the team to six region championships and one undefeated championship season. Prior to his arrival, the school’s football program hadn’t had a winning season in nearly a decade. In 2013, the Auburn alumnus left Carver to become a defensive analytical assistant for his alma mater for what turned out to be a championship-competing season.
After one year at Auburn, McGee deciding to begin interviewing for coaching jobs around the south and landed at Georgia Southern as a running backs coach. In each of his two seasons at Georgia Southern, the Eagles led the entire nation in rushing yards. As an interim head coach, McGee coached the Eagles to a 58-27 victory over the Bowling Green Falcons.
In his high school coaching career, McGee coached Jarvis Jones (Georgia, Pittsburgh Steelers), Isaiah Crowell (Georgia, Cleveland Browns), Chris Hubbard (UAB, Pittsburgh Steelers), DeQuan Menzie (Alabama, Kansas City Chiefs, Carolina Panthers), and Gabe Wright (Auburn, Detroit Lions).
James Coley, Wide Receivers:
James Coley is a multi-faceted offensive coach who spent the last few years on staff at Miami as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Prior to appearing on the Canes’ sideline, FSU alumnus Coley coached under Jimbo Fisher at his alma mater first as a tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator from 2008-10, then as offensive coordinator from 2010-12. Before joining Florida State, Coley served as the offensive coordinator at Florida International University in 2007, as an assistant under Nick Saban at the Miami Dolphins from 2005-06, and as a graduate assistant under Saban at LSU from 2003-04. Coley began his career as a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at different high schools in Miami from 1997-2002.
Coach Coley, a Miami native, is known for his success in recruiting south Florida and being one of the top recruiters in the ACC. His addition to the Bulldogs’ staff is huge in the departure of Mark Richt, who grew up in South Florida, attended the University of Miami, and has a long history of success in recruiting the area. If Georgia wants to continue pulling talent from the fertile recruiting grounds of Florida’s southern regions, they will need a recruiter of Coley’s caliber, who brought a series of #1 recruiting classes to Florida State during his time in Tallahassee. With Jimbo Fisher, Jim McElwain and now Mark Richt all trying to keep that wealth of Miami talent in-state, Coley will have his work cut out for him.
Though he’s made his career on coaching quarterbacks and tight ends, Coley coached Pro Bowl wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (LSU, Kansas City Chiefs).
Shane Beamer, Tight Ends/Special Teams:
Shane Beamer is college football royalty, and not just because he’s the son of long-time Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer. After playing for his father at VT, Shane spent four years as a graduate assistant at Georgia Tech and Tennessee, where he learned under legendary college football coaches George O’Leary and Phil Fulmer. After his tenure at Tennessee ended in 2003, Beamer landed his first coaching job under Sylvester Croom at Mississippi State, coaching cornerbacks and acting as the recruiting coordinator from 2004-06. Beamer joined South Carolina and coached defensive backs and linebackers under Steve Spurrier from 2007-2010, where he again coordinated recruiting and landed South Carolina some of their best recruiting classes in school history. In 2011, he took an associate head coaching position under his father at Virginia Tech, where he also coached running backs.
The surname Beamer is synonymous with playing disciplined and cerebral special teams; Frank Beamer is considered to be one of the greatest special teams overseers and strategists in the history of the college game, as his Virginia Tech teams were noted for scoring non-offensive touchdowns on a regular basis, a phenomena that was eventually known as “Beamerball.” With Georgia’s history of inconsistency on special teams, along with a history of special teams errors and gaffes under Richt (who never seemed to prioritize having a special teams coach), having a Beamer disciple take over special teams has to make Dawg Nation feel a bit more secure regarding the future.
Featured photo: Online Athens