There were hugs and there were kisses, but last Valentine's Day
at the home of Gary and Jeanne Gibbs there wasn't a lot of
romance in the air. That morning Gary Gibbs waved goodbye, not
only to Jeanne and the couple's two kids, but also to Norman,
Okla., his hometown for 29 years. Hours later he was met at the
Atlanta airport by his old friend Georgia coach Jim Donnan, who
had coached with Gibbs at Oklahoma in the 1980s. Donnan drove
his new defensive coordinator to his new home at the Holiday Inn
Express in Athens--where Gibbs still resides--and the latest
savior of Georgia football was ready to begin his work.
"Gary has a strong record," says Donnan, noting that Oklahoma led
the nation in total defense in '85, '86 and '87, when Gibbs was
the Sooners' defensive coordinator. "He'll turn our defense
Last year the Bulldogs gave up more total yards (382.6) per game
than any other SEC team. That kind of statistic doesn't endear
head coaches to alumni. Neither does the fact that under Donnan
the Bulldogs are 1-7 against Florida and Tennessee.
All of which makes this a very important season for Donnan,
because if ever Georgia is going to win an SEC title, this is the
year. The Bulldogs have experience (19 starters return), a gifted
quarterback (Quincy Carter) and a friendly schedule. "We can be
great," says senior Richard Seymour, an All-SEC defensive tackle.
"We can play for a national title."
Ten starters are back on defense, but newcomer Gibbs, Georgia's
third defensive coordinator in three years, will have the
greatest impact on the unit. Since resigning under pressure from
Oklahoma in November 1994, Gibbs has lived a quiet life on the
plains. When Donnan called in January and asked Gibbs how to
improve his defense, Gibbs had a two-word answer: Hire me. "I was
ready," says Gibbs, whose family stayed in Norman. "Now the key
is to identify who my playmakers are and put them in positions to
"This fall," says Seymour, "we plan on surprising quite a few
people." If that happens, Gibbs's neighbors in Norman shouldn't
expect him home anytime soon.
1999 record: 8-4 (5-3, 3rd in SEC East)
Final ranking: No. 16 AP, No. 16 coaches' poll
Career passing yards for Quincy Carter, the fifth most by a
quarterback after two seasons.
An opposing team's coach sizes up The Bulldogs
"Quincy's a beautiful athlete, but there's more to being great
than looking good. I don't see it in him. Every big game he's
played in, he's lost and looked bad....It takes two to block
Seymour....We'll go after their corners. Our wideouts
stutter-step, and they come in 100 miles an hour. We've been
successful with deep routes against them."
Strength: 39th of 115
Sept. 2 GA. SOUTHERN
9 at South Carolina
23 NEW MEXICO ST.
30 at Arkansas
Oct. 7 TENNESSEE
21 at Kentucky
Nov. 11 at Auburn
25 GEORGIA TECH
["TELLING NUMBER" COMPILED BY DAVID SABINO]