Georgia fires three defensive coaches

ATHENS, Ga. -- Following a 7-5 season, Georgia coach Mark Richt on Wednesday fired three members of his defensive coaching staff, including embattled coordinator Willie Martinez.

ESPN's Joe Schad earlier reported that Georgia wouldn't retain Martinez, who spent the past five seasons as coordinator of the Bulldogs' defense. Richt also fired defensive ends coach Jon Fabris and linebackers/defensive co-coordinator John Janceck.

"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."

Richt says the three have been asked to remain through the team's bowl game.

The Bulldogs ranked No. 71 nationally in scoring defense (26.4 points per game) and 90th in pass-efficiency defense (137.14 rating). Georgia allowed 30 points or more in five games this season.

Georgia finished 4-4 in the Southeastern Conference.

"The bottom line is we want to get back to the top of the Eastern Divivsion 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.

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.

Mark Schlabach covers college football for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.