Reports began circulating yesterday that Auburn was interested in hiring former Georgia defensive coordinator Willie Martinez as its new defensive backs coach. The former one there, Phillip Lolley, has been kicked upstairs into an administrative role. Tom Dienhart is now reporting that, according to a former Auburn staffer, bringing in Martinez is a done deal.
Martinez is joining a defensive staff headed up by new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, who was the DC over Martinez for four years at UGA from 2001-04. Martinez then succeeded him at DC when VanGorder left to be the DC for the Atlanta Falcons, but a a fairly steady decline culminating in over 30 points allowed in 2009 led to his dismissal. He spent the last two seasons at Oklahoma as DBs coach, but he found himself out of a job after Bob Stoops was able to bring his brother Mike back to the staff.
Auburn will be the fourth place that VanGorder and Martinez have coached together, and their collaboration certainly worked out well for those four years in Athens. VanGorder's Bulldog defenses allowed at least 4.83 points per game below the conference average in league play every year, going all the way up to over 9 points below the average in 2003. By comparison, Todd Grantham's defenses so far have allowed 1.65 and 1.69 points per game below average in his two years, respectively.
Getting that particular band back together should work out well for Auburn, which has had a rough go of it on defense in two of Gene Chizik's three years. Both VanGorder and Martinez have SEC coaching and recruiting experience, and they're comfortable working together. They'll need to perform well as the other side of the ball makes what will probably be a significant transition from Gus Malzahn's uptempo spread option to a more pro-style attack with Scot Loeffler.