ATLANTA — Georgia coach Mark Richt fired defensive coordinator Willie Martinez and two other defensive assistants on Wednesday, but asked the three to remain for the Bulldogs’ bowl game.
Martinez, linebackers coach John Jancek and defensive ends coach Jon Fabris will not return in 2010.
The announcement by Richt came four days after the highlight of the season for Georgia (7-5) and its defense — a 30-24 win over then-No. 7 Georgia Tech.
The win over the rival Yellow Jackets could not make up for two years of defensive problems.
Georgia, which is awaiting a bowl bid, gave up more than 40 points in three games for the second straight season.
“It was definitely not a one-year, knee-jerk reaction to one season, I can promise you that,” Richt said in a telephone interview. “It was more a decision that was made over the course of time, more time than just one year.”
Georgia finished 4-4 in the Southeastern Conference.
“The bottom line is we want to get back to the top of the Eastern Division and the top of the SEC,” Richt said. “That’s the goal and that’s what we’re going after.
“We want to make sure we’re playing Georgia ball, playing with the type of speed and intensity that it takes to be champions.”
Richt said he met with the three assistants Wednesday before revealing the moves to players at a team meeting. He said he planned to begin calling recruits on Wednesday night.
Martinez said in a statement released by Georgia he was grateful “for nine great years in Athens” and noted he was proud “to have been an integral part” of two SEC championships.
He did not say if he will remain for the bowl game.
Georgia ranks 10th in the SEC with its average of 26.4 points allowed. It’s also 10th in the league against the pass and seventh in total yards allowed.
There were criticisms of Martinez and the Georgia defense in 2008 when the Bulldogs were ranked No. 1 in the preseason but finished 10-3 while giving up more than 40 points in losses to Alabama, Florida and Georgia Tech.
Martinez and Fabris where hired for Richt’s first staff in 2001. Jancek joined the Georgia staff in 2005.
Martinez was promoted from secondary coach to defensive coordinator in 2005. Georgia ranked eighth in the nation in total defense in 2006 and 14th in 2007 under Martinez.
Martinez was assistant head coach at Central Michigan in 2000.
Rodney Garner, Georgia’s defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator who also carries the title of assistant head coach, was the only defensive assistant to survive Wednesday’s moves.
Asked if Garner is a candidate as defensive coordinator, Richt said “We have not talked about that at this point.”
Richt said he will give the three assistants time to consider the offer to coach in the bowl game.