SEC: Warren Belin

It appears as if Jeremy Pruitt will have the opportunity to build Georgia's defense according to his own vision. As of Wednesday night, he is the only defensive coach on the Bulldogs' staff.

Multiple media reports Wednesday night have defensive line coach Chris Wilson (leaving for USC) and inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti (going back to the Washington Redskins, where he previously spent 11 seasons as an assistant) joining defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and secondary coach Scott Lakatos as departures from Mark Richt's staff within the last week.

Richt said at Pruitt's introductory press conference on Wednesday morning that Wilson and Olivadotti would remain on staff “if they want to, and as of right now I think they want to.”

Obviously they decided otherwise, leaving Pruitt with three positions to fill. Pruitt will coach the secondary, but he and Richt must identify candidates to fill Grantham's position coaching outside linebackers as well as Wilson's line and Olivadotti's inside linebackers jobs.

In the short term, that might seem alarming for those around the Georgia program, but it no doubt holds some appeal for the Bulldogs' new defensive coordinator. Richt will allow Pruitt to have a major say in picking the new coaches -- if not allow him to hand select them -- much like he did when Grantham joined the staff in 2010 and brought along Lakatos and Warren Belin.

If Georgia is to take a step forward under the new regime, which shouldn't be difficult with 10 starters returning from a young group that ranked eighth in the SEC in total defense (375.5 ypg), it will be because Pruitt and Richt made the correct hires in the coming days and weeks.

Pruitt's arrival after an enormously successful season at Florida State was widely hailed as a home run for Richt, and that's a great start in rebuilding Georgia's defense. That's only the first step, though, and the Bulldogs need to swing for the fences three more times if the defense is to return to the suffocating form that marked the early seasons of Richt's tenure.

SEC East coaching carousel

February, 26, 2010
2/26/10
9:00
AM ET
With LSU opening spring practice Monday, I thought it might be wise to go over all the coaching changes in the SEC this year.

As usual, it was a revolving door this past offseason. In fact, Auburn was the only school in the league that didn’t have any staff turnover. The final number of head coaches or assistants departing for various reasons was 31.

Some were fired. Others got better gigs, while there were a few that were swayed elsewhere (within the conference) for more money.

Here’s an Eastern Division breakdown of who’s out and who’s in for the 2010 season. We'll do the Western Division a little bit later:

FLORIDA

Who’s out: Associate head coach/defensive coordinator Charlie Strong, defensive coordinator George Edwards, recruiting coordinator/receivers coach Billy Gonzales, cornerbacks coach Vance Bedford and running backs coach Kenny Carter.

Who’s in: Teryl Austin, who spent the last seven seasons as the Arizona Cardinals’ defensive backs coach, is Florida’s new defensive coordinator. He replaces George Edwards, who held the job for less than a month before going back to the NFL with the Buffalo Bills. Edwards replaced Charlie Strong, who left following the season to take the Louisville head job. Stan Drayton returns to coach running backs. He was at Florida earlier this decade before moving on to Tennessee and most recently Syracuse. D.J. Durkin will coach defensive ends and special teams after spending the last three seasons at Stanford. Zach Azzanni will coach receivers. He was previously the assistant head coach/receivers coach at Central Michigan.

GEORGIA

Who’s out: Defensive coordinator/secondary coach Willie Martinez, co-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach John Jancek and defensive ends coach Jon Fabris.

Who’s in: Former Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Todd Grantham takes over as Georgia’s defensive coordinator. He was the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive line coach the last two seasons. Scott Lakatos will coach the defensive backs after spending the last six seasons on the Connecticut staff, and Warren Belin will coach linebackers after spending the last eight seasons on the Vanderbilt staff.

KENTUCKY

Who’s out: Head coach Rich Brooks, offensive line coach Jimmy Heggins and defensive line coach Rick Petri.

Who’s in: Joker Phillips, who was already the Wildcats’ coach in waiting, takes over the head coaching reins. Mike Summers will coach the offensive line after serving as assistant head coach/offensive line coach at Arkansas the last two seasons. Former Tennessee quarterback Tee Martin will coach the receivers. Martin was the quarterbacks coach at New Mexico last season. David Turner, who has coached at four different SEC schools, will coach the defensive line. Turner was at Mississippi State the last three seasons.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Who’s out: Offensive line coach/running game coordinator Eric Wolford.

Who’s in: Shawn Elliott replaces Wolford, who left to take the head coaching job at Youngstown State. Elliott has spent his entire coaching career at Appalachian State, including the last nine seasons as offensive line coach.

TENNESSEE

Who’s out: Head coach Lane Kiffin, defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, recruiting coordinator/defensive line coach Ed Orgeron, quarterbacks coach David Reaves, receivers coach Frank Wilson, offensive line coach James Cregg, running backs coach/special teams coordinator Eddie Gran and defensive backs coach Willie Mack Garza.

Who’s in: Derek Dooley was hired as the Vols’ head coach after Lane Kiffin left to take the Southern California head job. Justin Wilcox comes over from Boise State to be the defensive coordinator. Charlie Baggett will serve as assistant head coach and coach the receivers. He has 11 years of NFL experience and was on the St. Louis Rams’ staff last season. Harry Hiestand will coach the offensive line. He was the offensive line coach for the Chicago Bears the past five seasons. Darin Hinshaw will coach quarterbacks. He was the receivers coach at Memphis the past three seasons. Terry Joseph will coach the secondary and special tams. He was with Dooley at Louisiana Tech. Eric Russell will coach tight ends and coordinate special teams. He was also at Louisiana Tech with Dooley. Former Tennessee All-SEC performer Chuck Smith will coach the defensive line. He worked as an assistant defensive line coach with the New York Jets last season and has also tutored several defensive linemen over the years. He played professionally for the Atlanta Falcons.

VANDERBILT

Who’s out: Linebackers coach/special teams coordinator Warren Belin.

Who’s in: Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson is still working to replace Belin, who left to join the Georgia staff. Johnson promoted Jimmy Kiser to offensive coordinator, and Kiser will call all of the Commodores’ plays this season. Ted Cain remains on staff as the tight ends coach and special teams coordinator.

Lunchtime links: Savage gets another shot

February, 11, 2010
2/11/10
12:15
PM ET
Checking on what's making headlines around the SEC:

Richt hires Belin away from Vanderbilt

February, 5, 2010
2/05/10
7:23
PM ET
Mark Richt has completed the revamping of his defensive staff at Georgia with the hiring of Vanderbilt linebackers coach Warren Belin.

Earlier, Richt had hired Todd Grantham away from the Dallas Cowboys to be his defensive coordinator and Scott Lakatos away from Connecticut to be his secondary coach.

Belin was an original member of Bobby Johnson's staff at Vanderbilt and helped to develop some excellent linebackers, including Hunter Hillenmeyer, Moses Osemwegie, Jonathan Goff, Marcus Buggs and most recently Chris Marve and Patrick Benoist. Belin had also headed up recruiting for the Commodores the last two seasons.

The fact that Richt would come and get Belin is just another indication of the kind of staff Johnson has assembled at Vanderbilt. Florida wooed Kenny Carter away a couple of years ago, and Carter is now with Charlie Strong at Louisville.

Bowling Green's Dave Clawson tried to hire Vanderbilt secondary coach Jamie Bryant as his defensive coordinator last year. Oklahoma State came after Vanderbilt defensive coordinator Bruce Fowler, and South Carolina has made a couple of different runs at Vanderbilt assistant head coach and offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell.

Fowler was promoted to assistant head coach for the defense prior to last season, while Bryant was promoted to defensive coordinator.

In Belin, Richt thinks he has the right fit.

"Warren has had some of the best linebackers and tacklers in the league for years,” Richt said. “I’ve always admired his work at Vandy, and people have been talking to me about him for quite a while. When Todd (Grantham) and I interviewed him, we were very impressed with his knowledge of the game, schemes and fundamentals. He’s going to be a perfect mentor for our players as well."

With the Bulldogs switching to a 3-4 defense, Grantham and Belin will share the linebacker coaching duties. Rodney Garner, the only holdover from the old defensive staff, will coach the defensive line.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

SEC SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 10/4