Georgia promotes James Coley to offensive coordinator

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — James Coley was promoted to Georgia’s offensive coordinator on Friday, taking over a lead role after Jim Chaney left for Southeastern Conference rival Tennessee.

The 45-year-old Coley served as co-offensive coordinator this past season, handling the quarterbacks while Chaney called plays and worked with the tight ends.

Coley came to Georgia when Kirby Smart was hired as head coach in 2016, overseeing the wide receivers for two seasons.

“James has been a critical part of our staff since we came to Georgia,” Smart said. “He’s done an incredible job in all aspects of his responsibilities including coaching wide receivers for two years, serving as co-offensive coordinator this past season coaching the quarterbacks, and recruiting. James has extensive coordinator experience during his entire coaching career and will transition easily into his new role.”

Coley moved up after Chaney’s surprising departure to a fellow SEC East team. He received a hefty pay raise from the Volunteers, who were one of the league’s worst offensive teams in 2018.

Georgia, on the other hand, averaged 238.8 yards rushing and 5.9 yards per carry to lead the SEC in both categories for a second straight season. The Bulldogs finished 11-3 after squandering a 14-point lead to Alabama in the conference championship game, costing them a return to the College Football Playoff, and losing to Texas in the Sugar Bowl.

Coley assumes control of an offense that will have to replace several key players. Running back Elijah Holyfield, tight end Isaac Nauta, and receivers Riley Ridley and Mecole Hardman are leaving after their junior seasons to enter the NFL draft. Also, touted quarterback Justin Fields is transferring to Ohio State after failing to earn much playing time behind two-year starter Jake Fromm.

Coley previously worked as the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach at Miami (2013-15) and offensive coordinator at Florida State (2010-12). While with the Seminoles, he worked with three quarterbacks who went on to become first-round NFL draft picks: Christian Ponder, EJ Manuel and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.

A native of Miami, Coley served as an offensive assistant with the Miami Dolphins under Nick Saban in 2005-06. His coaching resume also includes a stint as a graduate assistant on Saban’s staff at LSU in 2003, when the Tigers claimed the BCS national championship.