Sidelines with John Clay

SEC football defensive coordinators for 2019 season

In my Kentucky football “in or out” column, I mentioned new UK football defensive coordinator Brad White.

Here’s a look at the defensive coordinators for the 14 SEC teams heading into the 2019 college football season.


Florida — Todd Grantham. The well-traveled Grantham is entering his second season with the Gators. The 52-year-old Virginia native was the NFL’s Cleveland Browns’ defensive coordinator from 2005-07 before coaching the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive line from 2008-09. He returned to the college ranks to be Georgia’s defensive coordinator under Mark Richt from 2010-13. He jumped to Louisville where he was DC for Bobby Petrino from 2014-16. Dan Mullen hired Grantham to be Mississippi State’s defensive coordinator in 2017 before Grantham followed Mullen to Gainesville. The Cincinnati Bengals reportedly pursued Grantham in the off-season to be defensive coordinator, but he chose to remain at Florida.

Florida’s 2018 total defense ranking: 28th.

Georgia — Glenn Schumann and Dan Lanning. When former UGA defensive coordinator Mel Tucker was named head coach at Colorado, head coach Kirby Smart decided to split the DC duties between Schumann and Lanning. Schumann is the team’s inside linebackers coach. An Alabama graduate, he began his coaching career as a GA with the Crimson Tie in 2011. He became Nick Saban’s Director of Player Personnel in 2014 before leaving with Smart, the Tide’s defensive coordinator, for Georgia in 2016. Lanning coaches the team’s outside linebackers. Lanning coached at Pittsburgh (2011), Arizona State (2012-13) and Sam Houston State (2014) before teaming up with Smart at Alabama in 2015. Lanning coached the inside linebackers at Memphis in 2016-17 before re-joining Smart at Georgia in 2018.

Georgia’s 2018 total defense ranking: 13th.

Kentucky — Brad White. When former defensive coordinator Matt House left for the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, UK head coach Mark Stoops elevated White to defensive coordinator. A former linebacker who played for current Kentucky assistant Dean Hood when Hood was DC at Wake Forest, White started his coaching career as a grad assistant at his alma mater. He coached the safeties at Murray State in 2009, then the linebackers a Air Force from 2010-11. He joined Chuck Pagano’s staff with the Indianapolis Colts in 2012 and was promoted to outside linebackers coach in 2015. When the NCAA allowed programs to add another coach to the staff, Stoops hired White in 2018.

Kentucky’s 2018 total defense ranking: 23rd.

Missouri — Ryan Walters. The Los Angeles native coached Mizzou’s secondary from 2015 through 2017 before being elevated to defensive coordinator in 2018. A college safety at Colorado, Walters coached at Arizona (2010-11), Oklahoma (2012) and North Texas (2013) before working with current Missouri head coach Barry Odom at Memphis in 2014. When Odom was named DC at Missouri in 2015, he brought Walters to Columbia. Odom was promoted to head coach in 2016. Odom fired defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross and took over the defense himself early in the 2017 campaign. After the season was over, he promoted Walters to that position.

Missouri’s 2018 total defense ranking: 62nd.

South Carolina — Tavaris Robinson. A defensive back at Auburn (1999-2002) for Tommy Tuberville, Robinson played three seasons in the NFL before starting his college coaching career at his alma mater (2006-07). Robinson coached defensive backs at Western Kentucky (2008), Southern Miss (2009) and Texas Tech (2010) before joining head coach Will Muschamp at Florida in 2011. He followed Muschamp to Auburn, when the coach was fired by the Gators and hired by the Tigers to be DC. Robinson then followed Muschamp to South Carolina. He has been the Gamecocks’ DC the past three seasons.

South Carolina’s 2018 total defense ranking: 84th.

Tennessee — Derrick Ansley and Chris Rumph. Jeremy Pruitt was defensive coordinator at Florida State, Georgia and Alabama before becoming UT’s head coach last season. He split the defensive coordinator duties between Rumph and Kevin Sherrer. After the season, however, Pruitt moved Sherrer to special teams coordinator with Rumph remaining as the co-DC. A linebacker at South Carolina, Rumph was a high school coach in the state before being a college assistant at South Carolina State (2002), Memphis (2003-05), Clemson (2006-10), Alabama (2011-13), Texas (2014), Florida (2015-17) before joining Pruitt last season. In February, Pruitt hired Ansley, a former Kentucky assistant under Mark Stoops, to be co-defensive coordinator and coach the defensive backs. Ansley was a grad assistant at Alabama (2010-11) before coaching defensive backs at Tennessee (2012), UK (2013-15) and Alabama (2016-17). He jumped to the NFL’s Oakland Raiders last season before returning to the college game in Knoxville. As a player, Ansley was a defensive back at Troy.

Tennessee’s 2018 total defense ranking: 49th.

Vanderbilt — Jason Tarver. The 44-year-old Tarver has jumped back and forth between the NFL and the college ranks during his coaching career. Tarver was on the staff of the San Francisco 49ers from 2004 through 2010 before joining David Shaw’s staff at Stanford, where he coached with current Vandy head coach Derek Mason. Tarver returned to the pro ranks with the Oakland Raiders (2012-14) and 49ers (2015-17) before Mason brought him to Nashville last season.

Vanderbilt’s 2018 total defense ranking: 99th.


Alabama — Pete Golding. Nick Saban brought Golding to Tuscaloosa last season after the 35-year-old had been defensive coordinator at UT-San Antonio for two seasons. In 2017, Golding’s defense was ranked seventh nationally in yards allowed per game. Golding was an assistant at Delta State, Tusculum College, Southeast Louisiana and Southern Miss before moving to San Antonio. He was co-defensive coordinator last year with Tosh Lupoi, who left Alabama in January to become defensive line coach with the Cleveland Browns.

Alabama’s 2018 total defense ranking: 16th.

Arkansas — John Chavis. When Chad Morris took over as the Razorbacks head coach last season, the former SMU head coach hired an SEC veteran in Chavis to be defensive coordinator. The 62-year-old Chavis played nose tackle at Tennessee before starting his coaching career at Alabama A&M in 1980. He left for Alabama State in 1984 before returning to A&M in 1986. Phil Fulmer hired Chavis to coach UT’s defensive line in 1989. Chavis was promoted to defensive coordinator in 1995. He was hired by Les Miles to be LSU’s DC in 2009. After six seasons in Baton Rouge, Chavis joined Kevin Sumlin’s staff at Texas A&M in 2015. When Sumlin was fired in 2017, Chavis joined Morris in Fayetteville.

Arkansas’ 2018 total defense ranking: 79th.

Auburn — Kevin Steele. One of the most experienced coaches in the SEC, Steele is starting his third season as Auburn’s defensive coordinator. A linebacker at Tennessee, Steele has coached at Tennessee (1980-82), New Mexico State (1983), Oklahoma State (184-86), Tennessee (1987-88), Nebraska (1989-94), Baylor (1999-2002), Florida State (2003-06), Alabama (2007-08) and Clemson (2009-11). He was also with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers (1995-98). Steele sat out the 2012 season before joining Nick Saban as Alabama’s Director of Player Personnel in 2013. He coached linebackers at Alabama in 2014 and was defensive coordinator at LSU in 2015 before joining Gus Malzahn at Auburn in 2016.

Auburn’s 2018 total defense ranking: 37th.

LSU — Dave Aranda. The 42-year-old Aranda was an assistant at Texas Tech (1999-2001), Houston (2002-03), Cal Lutheran (2005-06), Delta State (2007), Southern Utah (2008) and Hawaii (2009-11) before hooking up with Gary Andersen as defensive coordinator at Utah State in 2012. Aranda followed Andersen to Wisconsin in 2013. When Andersen left for Oregon State after the 2014 season, new coach Paul Chryst retained Aranda. In 2016, Les Miles hired Aranda as defensive coordinator at LSU. He remained with the Tigers when Ed Orgeron was promoted to head coach in 2017.

LSU’s 2018 total defense ranking: 25th.

Ole Miss — Mike MacIntyre. The former Colorado head coach agreed to take over the Rebels’ defense after Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke parted ways with former DC Wes McGriff following last season. The son of former Vanderbilt coach George MacIntyre, Mike played defensive back at Vandy and Georgia Tech before starting his coaching career at Davidson in 1992. MacIntyre served as an assistant at UT Martin (1993-96), Temple (1997-98), Ole Miss (1999-2002), the Dallas Cowboys (2003-06) and the New York Jets (2007) before becoming defensive coordinator at Duke (2008-09). MacIntyre was head coach at San Jose State from 2010 through 2012, going 1-12, 5-7 and 10-2 at the school. He was hired by Colorado in 2013 and went 30-44 with the Buffaloes, including a 10-4 record (8-1 in the Pac 12) in 2016.

Ole Miss; 2018 total defense ranking: 121st.

Mississippi State — Bob Shoop. The Bulldogs were No. 1 in the nation in total defense last season under the 52-year-old Shoop, who is on his third tour of duty in the SEC. The Yale graduate coached at Virginia (1990), Northeastern (1991-93), Yale (1994-96), Villanova (1997), Army (1998) and Boston College (1999-2002) before being named head coach at Columbia in 2003. His teams were just 7-23 and Shoop was fired after the 2005 season. He was an assistant at UMass (2006) and William & Mary (2007-10) before becoming James Franklin’s defensive coordinator at Vanderbilt in 2011. Shoop followed Franklin to Penn State in 2014. Butch Jones hired Shoop to be Tennessee’s DC in 2016. Then Joe Moorhead brought Shoop to Mississippi State last year.

Mississippi State’s 2018 total defense ranking: 1st.

Texas A&M — Mike Elko. The 42-year-old Elko played safety at Penn before beginning his college coaching career at Stony Brook in 1999. Elko was an assistant at Penn (2000), the Merchant Marine (2001), Fordham (2002-03), Richmond (2004-05), Hofstra (2006-08) and Bowling Green (2009-13) before becoming defensive coordinator at Wake Forest in 2014. After three seasons at WF, he was hired by Brian Kelly to be the DC at Notre Dame in 2017. Elko left the next year to join Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M.

Texas A&M’s defensive ranking: 32nd.

SEC football offensive coordinators for 2019 season

2018 SEC standings


Georgia 7-1

Kentucky 5-3

Florida 5-3

South Carolina 4-4

Missouri 4-4

Vanderbilt 3-5

Tennessee 2-6


Alabama 8-0

Texas A&M 5-3

LSU 5-3

Miss State 4-4

Auburn 3-5

Ole Miss 1-7

Arkansas 0-8

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