The Raiders’ search for a defensive coordinator has traversed the NFL and now has reached as far as the University of Louisville, where the Cardinals’ Todd Grantham is now a person of interest.
The Lousiville Courier Journal reported that Grantham was scheduled to interview with the Raiders this week.
So who is Grantham?
Grantham, who has coached just one season under head coach Bobby Petrino at Louisville, had the No. 6 ranked unit in total defense in major college football this past season, giving up just 308 yards per game. Louisville led the nation in interceptions, was 11th in sacks and tied for 24th in scoring defense, allowing 21.8 points per game.
Grantham coached a 3-4 defensive scheme at Louisville, the same system he employed for the four previous seasons at Georgia, where the Bulldogs had success as a unit with more sacks and takeaways than under the previous coach. In 2011, the Georgia defense ranked fifth in the nation.
To get Grantham, Louisville had to pay dearly – a reported $1 million per year over a four-year deal that made him the fourth highest-paid assistant coach in college football.
Before coaching at Georgia, he was the defensive coordinator under head coach Romeo Crennel for three seasons (2005-07) with the Cleveland Browns, where his units ranked 16th, 27th and 30th overall defensively. During his first two seasons in Cleveland, however, the Browns pass defense ranked sixth and eighth in the league.
He’s also coached the defensive line for the Cowboys, Texans and Colts in the NFL.
Grantham has been a believer in the 3-4 scheme, which would be a change from the Raiders’ current 4-3 system. He changed Louisville from a 4-3 to 3-4 defense this past season.
In the past, Grantham has said Nick Saban – for whom he coached at Michigan State in the late 1990s – has been a big influence. Both believe in the importance of speed on defense.
In 2012, Saban – the now very successful coach at Alabama – told the New York Times that Grantham is “one of the two or three best” assistants he’s ever had.
As a defensive coach, Grantham has said “big people beat up little people,” and he loves huge defensive linemen. But the main thing he likes is to study the opposition and figure out a way to attack it.
He believes in an aggressive, attacking defensive style.
“My whole thing is matchups,” Grantham told the Times. “How can we get the mismatch in the rush. You are trying to get your best player on their weakest link on offense.”