Muschamp loving role of Georgia's co-defensive coordinator

Georgia photo by Tony Walsh / Georgia co-defensive coordinator Will Muschamp speaks to reporters Tuesday during a news conference in Athens.

Meet Will Muschamp, quite possibly the most qualified co-defensive coordinator college football has ever known.

When Georgia coach Kirby Smart was faced with the task of hiring a new defensive coordinator last December following Dan Lanning's accepting of the head-coaching vacancy at Oregon, he quickly announced that Muschamp and Glenn Schumann would serve as co-coordinators. It was the biggest role yet for Schumann, who has been alongside Smart for all seven seasons in Athens, and it was the latest role for Muschamp, who has previous defensive coordinator stops at Auburn, LSU and Texas, as well as head-coaching stints at Florida and South Carolina.

"I love my role," Muschamp said Tuesday in a news conference, his first since returning to his alma mater in January 2021 as a defensive analyst. "I told my wife the other day that I think I have the best job in America. At the end of the day, the room that I have I am honored to coach.

"To be in that room, to be at the University of Georgia and to see our future as we continue to unfold and move forward - I am really excited about it."

Muschamp's older son, Jackson, is a redshirt sophomore walk-on quarterback for the Bulldogs. His younger son, Whit, is a Baylor School junior vying to become Erik Kimrey's first starting quarterback for the Red Raiders.

After his five-season run at South Carolina began with promise but ended with the 2-8 tailspin of 2020, Muschamp was hired by Smart in January 2021 as a senior defensive analyst. When special teams coordinator Scott Cochran took a leave of absence last August, he became a full-time assistant and worked with special teams and the secondary.

"I was certainly ready to step on the field," Muschamp said. "I've asked players as a head coach, a coordinator, and a position coach for a lot of years to do the best job in your role in the organization. When I was an analyst, I wanted to do the best job I could do as an analyst. When I was asked to be the special teams coordinator and work with the safeties, then I did the best job I could do there.

"That's the way I've always approached things."

Muschamp was a safety for the Bulldogs from 1991-94, with his final season overlapping with Smart's redshirt year. He did not know much about Schumann upon returning to UGA but apparently developed a quick respect.

Schumann has overseen Georgia's inside linebackers since 2016, helping develop the likes of Roquan Smith, Monty Rice and Nakobe Dean.

"When you really look at Coach Smart's seven seasons here at Georgia, the two longest-tenured coaches are Glenn and (running backs coach) Dell McGee," Muschamp said. "The consistency of their position groups is probably the best that's been here in those seven years. Glenn has recruited extremely well at his position and is just an outstanding football coach.

"I've really enjoyed getting to work with Glenn because of the football intelligence he has and the passion he brings to the job every single day, because those things are really important, and players see that. They see how invested he is in them."

Muschamp and Schumann have been given the task of revamping a defense that lost five members in the first round of April's NFL draft, but Muschamp certainly has the track record to take that on. His LSU defense in 2003 not only spearheaded a BCS championship run but led the nation in fewest yards (252.0) and points (11.0) allowed, and his 2007 Auburn defense ranked sixth nationally in total defense and scoring defense.

He has worked under Nick Saban and Smart and has a national championship under each, with the Bulldogs having earned the crown last season for the first time since 1980.

"I can probably count on one hand the 'not-so-good' practices we had last year," Muschamp said. "That's a lot credit to our young men on our team because of the leadership and things like that, but that's also the culture that's been set of 'that's how we're going to practice at Georgia.' You go to a Tuesday practice here, and it's a thing of beauty.

"That's the way you're supposed to get after it, but it's what's expected. It's what's set from the top all the way down in the organization, and it's understood that's the way we are going to do things. I credit Coach Smart with that."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com.