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HAMMOCK: Falcons part of coordinator shuffle

From left, Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff, owner and chairman Arthur Blank, and head coach Mike Smith hold a season in review news conference on Wednesday, and the trio was clear that the team isn’t where they want it to be.

From left, Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff, owner and chairman Arthur Blank, and head coach Mike Smith hold a season in review news conference on Wednesday, and the trio was clear that the team isn’t where they want it to be.

Brian VanGorder started it. Mike Mularkey followed the next day.

With those two taking new jobs -- VanGorder at Auburn and Mularkey in Jacksonville -- the Falcons are guaranteed to have new defensive and offensive coordinators for the 2012 NFL season and Atlanta fans have the changes they wanted after back-to-back disappointing playoff losses.

Unfortunately for coordinators, it's that time of the year.

They're some of the biggest targets in football (maybe even more than the head coaches). They make a little more money than their fellow assistant coaches, get to run the offense or defense and are a step below getting a promotion to a head coach.

But coordinators are also the main scapegoats when things go wrong. Your defense is bad? Fire the coordinator. The offense struggles? Bye-bye coordinator. The head coach's job is on the line? Guess how he saves it -- firing one or more coordinators.

For fans, a new coordinator brings a renewed sense of hope with the typical "surely, the new guy will do a better job" routine. It never hurts to add a little offseason optimism, right?

For the coordinators involved and the head coaches who hire them, it also creates a musical chairs scenario.

Ted Roof, a Central Gwinnett grad, left his job as Auburn's defensive coordinator for the same job at Central Florida back in December. After a month on the job, he became Penn State's defensive coordinator this week.

VanGorder took Roof's old position at Auburn, leaving the Atlanta Falcons. Now Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is reportedly on the Falcons' list to be VanGorder's replacement, which creates a DC void at UGA, where VanGorder previously worked.

Confused yet?

Unfortunately, that's not the coordinator change that Bulldog fans want. They've been calling for Mike Bobo's removal as offensive coordinator for years.

College and pro teams even battle it out every offseason for the top available coordinator candidates. One of the hottest candidates this year was Boise State's Brent Pease, who accepted the Florida offensive coordinator job Wednesday after reportedly being high on the list at national champion Alabama, which needed a replacement for outgoing Jim McElwain.

Brace yourself, though. The coordinator hires are only beginning this offseason.

It will be particularly interesting in Atlanta, with the Falcons in need of two.

Will Hammock can be reached via email at will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock.

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