wjxt logo

Reeling Florida fires veteran assistants Grantham, Hevesy

Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, center, reacts on the sideline after a play as head coach Dan Mullen, right, watches during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Georgia, Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) (Phelan M. Ebenhack, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Florida fired defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and offensive line coach John Hevesy on Sunday, parting with the two assistants one day after a 40-17 loss at South Carolina.

Coach Dan Mullen made the moves official Monday. Linebackers coach Christian Robinson will call the defense beginning with Saturday's game against Samford. Longtime Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni, a 72-year-old coaching veteran who had been Mullen's special assistant, will take on an on-the-field role for the remainder of the season.

Michael Sollenne, who has been with the team since 2020, will work with the offensive line for the rest of the year.

Grantham and Hevesy were in the final year of their contracts at Florida. Grantham made $1.8 million annually, and Hevesy was getting $620,000.

Hevesy had been coaching alongside Mullen for the past two decades. They were together at Bowling Green (2001-02), Utah (2003-04), Florida (2005-08), Mississippi State (2009-17) and Florida (2008-21) again.

Grantham spent the last five seasons with Mullen, including the 2017 season at Mississippi State.

Offensive line and defensive struggles have been among the most glaring issues for the Gators, who have lost three in a row and eight of their last 10 against Power Five opponents.

The Gators ran for a season-low 82 yards against South Carolina. Their defense allowed a season-high 459 yards to the Gamecocks and its most points in the series.

Run defense has been a recurring problem for the Florida, which gave up 454 yards — including 321 on the ground — at LSU three weeks ago. The Gators were gouged repeatedly by the same counter play.

Many thought Mullen would move on from Grantham following the stunning loss to the Tigers, but he gave the veteran coordinator a chance to fix his defense. It backfired. The unit looked unmotivated to play, much less tackle, at South Carolina.

Grantham’s job has seemingly been in jeopardy since Florida allowed 30.8 points a game last season. It was the program’s most in more than a hundred years, and the Gators were equally ineffective against the run and the pass. They were gashed for 144 points over three consecutive losses to end 2020.

Mullen responded by firing two defensive assistants. Florida had reason to believe the 2020 results were a fluke. The Gators pointed to the coronavirus pandemic forcing the cancelation of 15 spring practices, eliminating an entire offseason of work and wiping out months of bonding opportunities.

The results showed.

The Gators surrendered eight plays of 30 or more yards in a season-opening shootout at Mississippi and gave up 543 yards, including 205 on the ground, in a close loss at Texas A&M two weeks later. Throw in South Carolina, and Florida allowed 100 points through its first three games for the first time since 1917.

Florida’s much-maligned unit finished the season ranked 83rd among 127 teams.

Mullen fired secondary coaches Ron English and Torrian Gray two days after a 55-20 loss to Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. He replaced them with Auburn’s Wesley McGriff and South Florida’s Jules Montinar.

___

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25. Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://apnews.com/cfbtop25