Grantham to stay at Ga.; Rob Ryan interviews

NEW ORLEANS — University of Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham withdrew his name from consideration for the same position with the New Orleans Saints on Friday, one day after interviewing for the job.

Grantham met Thursday with Saints coach Sean Payton, who is looking for a replacement for Steve Spagnuolo. Payton, who interviewed former Dallas Cowboys defensive coordianator Rob Ryan on Friday, fired Spagnuolo on Jan. 24 after just one season on the job.

When Payton announced he was letting Spagnuolo go, he said he would change the Saints from a 4-3 defensive front to a 3-4.

Spagnuolo’s unit gave up an NFL-record 7,042 total yards, allowing at least 400 yards in the first 10 games of the regular season and 12 out of 16 games overall. They also were last in the league in rushing defense and were 31st out of 32 teams against the pass and in scoring defense.

Grantham announced his decision in a statement Friday night.

“I want to thank Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints organization for the opportunity to interview and get to know them,” said Grantham, who’s been at Georgia the past three seasons after coaching with four NFL teams. “They are a first-class organization in every respect.

“Georgia is a great place, my family loves it here, and I do as well. 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 told the recruits he loved the school and expected to stay in Athens.

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.

Ryan, who has been an NFL defensive coordinator for nine seasons, was let go by the Cowboys on Jan. 8 after two seasons working for coach Jason Garrett.

Under Ryan, the Cowboys ranked 19th in the NFL in total defense last season, but the team failed to make the playoffs for the third consecutive season.

Payton said Wednesday that he would talk to between two and four candidates for the opening and indicated that another interview would take place on Monday.