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Head Coach Search: 5 Things to Know About Chargers Interim Head Coach Giff Smith

5 Things Giff 1

The Chargers on Tuesday confirmed they have interviewed Giff Smith for their head coach position.

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Here are five things to know about Smith:

1. Chargers Interim Head Coach

Smith most recently took over as the Chargers Interim Head Coach for the final three games of the regular season.

The veteran coach has been with the Bolts since 2016, initially serving as the defensive line coach before taking over as the teams outside linebacker coach the last two seasons.

In his 12 seasons coaching in the NFL, Smith has coached five players to earn a combined 10 Pro Bowl selections entering this season and added another one this season with the selection of outside linebacker Khalil Mack.

"Giff did an awesome job stepping in when it was tough to do," Mack said after Week 18. "I don't know if anybody else would want to step in at that moment in the season.

"Seeing how he rallied the guys and had us ready to go, even though we weren't able to lock it down and get the job done on Sunday, we played for each other and he did a great job bringing us together for that," Mack added.

2. Working closely with Bosa, Mack

Speaking of Mack, Smith worked closely with him and fellow outside linebacker Joey Bosa before taking over the interim role in December.

Smith joined the Chargers the same year Bosa was drafted and was an integral part to his development.

Working alongside Smith, Bosa was able to win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors after 10.5 sacks and set an NFL record early in his career with 19.0 sacks in his first 20 career games. Bosa has also notched 67.0 sacks in 93 games with the Chargers, good for third-most in franchise history and has made four Pro Bowls during his time in the powder blue.

His work with Mack also showed up in a big way on and off the field in the veteran's first two seasons in the powder blue, as the two spent a lot of time working together.

Mack saw a lot of success with the Chargers, being named a Pro Bowl starter in both seasons with the team and finishing 2023 with 17.0 sacks, a career-best mark that tied the franchise single-season record.

The Chargers on Tuesday confirmed they have interviewed Giff Smith for their head coach position.

3. Coaching Experience

Smith's coaching experience spreads far beyond the Chargers.

He began his coaching journey as a Graduate Assistant for the University of Arkansas from 1991 to 1993 before serving in the same role at Georgia from 1994 to 1995. He then spent three seasons (1996-98) coaching wide receivers and the secondary at his alma mater Georgia Southern before taking over as the defensive line coach at Tulane from 1999 to 2003.

He would continue in the college ranks after his time at Tulane, becoming the defensive line coach at Georgia Tech for six seasons. Under Smith, the Yellow Jackets led the country in sacks (47) in 2007 and also ranked second in tackles for loss.

Following his time at Georgia Tech, Smith would move to the NFL ranks as the Bills defensive line coach for three seasons, where he helped defensive tackle Kyle Williams make the first two Pro Bowls of his career.
He would then move on to the Titans in 2014 and 2015, before ultimately joining the Bolts in 2016.

4. Georgia Southern Hall of Famer

Smith knows quite a bit about the trenches — partly because he had a stellar college career as an edge rusher.

Smith was a star at Georgia Southern from 1987 to 1990 and was a three-time All-American for the Eagles.

He was a team captain as a senior and a part of three NCAA I-AA national title teams (1986, '89-90) for the Eagles. He set the single-game school record for sacks in a game (five) as a sophomore in 1988. Smith also helped the team record NCAA's first-ever 15-0 record.

Smith finished his career in Georgia Southern's top five single-season (10) and career sack leaders (23.5).

He was inducted into the Georgia Southern Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000.

5. Coaching Roman Reigns

Before headlining WrestleMania's in front of sold out crowds and winning WWE Championships, Leati Joseph "Joe" Anoaʻi — otherwise known as "Roman Reigns" — spent his college days working closely along with Smith on the gridiron.

Anoa'i was a defensive tackle at Georgia Tech during Smith's tenure and became a force in the ACC, earning First-Team All-ACC in 2006 after notching 40 tackles, two recovered fumbles and 4.5 sacks.

He was one of the best players along the Yellow Jackets' defensive line and would go on to play in the Canadian Football League before eventually becoming a superstar and one of WWE's best and most accomplished wrestlers.

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