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Florida Gators fire defensive coordinator Todd Grantham

John Hevesy, Dan Mullen’s longtime offensive line coach, is also out at UF.
Todd Grantham is out as the Gators' defensive coordinator.
Todd Grantham is out as the Gators' defensive coordinator. [ MONICA HERNDON | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Nov. 8, 2021|Updated Nov. 8, 2021

Update, 9 a.m.: The Florida Gators announced Monday morning that they have fired defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and offensive line/run game coordinator John Hevesy.

Linebackers coach Christian Robinson will be UF’s defensive play caller this season. Paul Pasqualoni, the former head coach at Syracuse and UConn, will take an on-field coaching role. He had been UF’s special assistant to the head coach.

Michael Sollenne, an offensive graduate assistant, moves up to coach the offensive line. He was Austin Peay’s tight ends coach in 2019 and the offensive line coach at Nassau Community College from 2016-18.

We’ll have more on the continued fallout and what it means going forward later today after coach Dan Mullen’s weekly news conference. Our original story is below:

The fallout of Florida’s listless loss at South Carolina continued Sunday when the Gators decided to get rid of defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and offensive line coach/run game coordinator John Hevesy. The Athletic first reported the news.

Florida has not yet announced the move, and it’s unclear what the Gators’ staff will look like Saturday against Samford.

Related: Let’s talk about Dan Mullen’s long-term future at Florida

Grantham has been a focal point of criticism for more than a year. He coordinated the 2020 defense that was the program’s worst since World War II. The Gators’ defensive struggles against Alabama and LSU last year cost them a shot at the College Football Playoff — and helped start the current freefall. With an annual compensation of $1.8 million, Grantham has been one of the highest paid assistants in the country.

But coach Dan Mullen decided to keep Grantham — who was also on his 2017 Mississippi State staff — even after last year’s struggles. Instead, UF changed its assistants in the secondary to try to fix the ongoing issues.

The troubles, however, remained. And they were impossible to overlook in Saturday’s 23-point loss.

The Gators allowed a middling SEC East team with a first-year coach and third-string quarterback to put up 40 points thanks to poor tackling, blown coverages and an inability to stop the run. Before Saturday, the Gamecocks hadn’t scored more than 21 in an SEC game this fall.

Hevesy’s exit hits differently. Hevesy has been with Mullen since they were on Urban Meyer’s Bowling Green staff in 2001-02. They went together from there to Utah to Florida to Mississippi State and back to Florida. Hevesy’s title changed — he coached tight ends on UF’s 2008 national title team and has been the co-offensive coordinator at times with the Gators and Bulldogs — but he remained a fixture of Mullen’s staff.

Florida is getting rid of offensive line coach John Hevesy, seen here in the Vanderbilt game earlier this season.
Florida is getting rid of offensive line coach John Hevesy, seen here in the Vanderbilt game earlier this season. [ PHELAN M. EBENHACK | AP ]

Not anymore. Hevesy has come under fire for his recruiting abilities and his line’s development. The Gators allowed seven tackles for a loss and averaged only 3.2 yards per rush Saturday while getting pushed around by the Gamecocks’ defensive front.

Sunday’s news underscores the pressure around the program thanks to a 4-5 start and eight losses in the last 10 Power Five games. Immediately after UF’s 49-42 loss to an LSU team that was firing its coach, Mullen was asked about potential in-season coaching changes. Mullen dismissed the idea, saying he didn’t “like to jump to conclusions” during a long year.

In his postgame news conference after the South Carolina debacle, Mullen left the door open for changes. Less than 24 hours later, he made them.

Mullen’s reversal invites an obvious question: What other moves are coming?

We’ll know more after his weekly news conference Monday. But you can expect additional fallout from a program that has slid from a preseason top-15 ranking to one that sits fifth in the East. After Saturday’s disaster, expect all changes to be on the table.

Including at the very top.

• • •

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