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Monday February 8th, 2016 4:22PM

Grantham quashes Saints speculation, staying in Athens

By The Associated Press
ATLANTA -- One day after interviewing with the New Orleans Saints, Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham withdrew from consideration for the same job with the NFL team.

Grantham announced his decision in a statement Friday night, shortly after the Saints continued their search by interviewing former Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

"Georgia is a great place, my family loves it here, and I do as well," said Grantham, who interviewed with New Orleans coach Sean Payton on Thursday. "This is where our heart is."

Grantham came under criticism from some Georgia fans for the timing of his interview with the Saints - one day after national signing day. The Bulldogs picked up 32 players Wednesday, including 18 on the defensive side, and Grantham said he had told the recruits he loved the school and expected to stay in Athens.

But before the day was over, he informed Georgia officials of his intention to interview with the Saints, fulfilling the requirement in his contract when pursuing a coordinator job in the NFL. Within 24 hours, he met with Payton.

Now, Grantham insists he's fully committed to the Bulldogs.

"I'm excited to start preparations for another season and along with the rest of our defensive staff look forward to coaching some really good returning players as well as developing some very talented newcomers," he said.

The Saints are seeking a replacement for Steve Spagnuolo, who was fired last month after New Orleans gave up more yards (7,042) than any team in NFL history and the second-most points in the league last season.

"I want to thank Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints organization for the opportunity to interview and get to know them," Grantham said. "They are a first-class organization in every respect."

Last year, Grantham was mentioned as a candidate with the Atlanta Falcons before announcing he would stay with the Bulldogs. This season, his name came up when the Philadelphia Eagles were looking for a new coordinator.

The 46-year-old Grantham coached in the NFL before taking the Georgia job in 2010.

His stock rose dramatically in 2011 when the Bulldogs ranked fifth nationally in total defense, allowing just 277.2 yards per game. This past season, despite having Jarvis Jones and several other NFL prospects, Georgia slipped to 32nd in the rankings (357.8 yards).

Grantham is known for his fiery demeanor, which included giving a choke sign to a Florida kicker before a game-winning field goal in 2010 and getting into a postgame altercation with Vanderbilt coach James Franklin in 2011.
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