What should have been done immediately was done eventually, to borrow and twist a line from Jeremy Foley. News broke on Sunday evening that defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and offensive line coach John Hevesy are done at Florida. Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports was the first to report the matter.
The move comes on the heels of an embarrassing 40-17 beatdown at the hands of South Carolina. The Gamecocks started a transfer from FCS cellar dweller St. Francis in Jason Brown, and scored 40 points against Florida for the first time ever.
Florida’s 2020 defense was one of the worst in school history. Only five times in school history has Florida surrendered more than 600 yards in a single game; three of them came in 2020. That defense finished the season giving up 428 yards per game, which qualified for 83rd in the country.
The offensive line was a bit muddier of a situation. The Gators’ front five was mediocre in the best of times in 2019 and 2020 and just plain bad in the worst, particularly in the running game. Some signs of progress appeared to be showing in the first few games of 2021, but the blocking worsened considerably in recent games before reaching its nadir against South Carolina.
To be blunt, this pair of moves feels like something that Dan Mullen was forced to do, as opposed to naturally reaching the conclusion that this was what he should do on his own. That doesn’t bode well for the future, if and when Mullen finds himself in a similar situation. Having to rely on Bull Gators, the athletic director, or even the fans as a whole to force your hand is not an ideal way to CEO a football program.
But having said that, gone is gone, and Todd Grantham and John Hevesy are both gone. And that means the Gators got better in two ways today.
Suffice to say that these were not two of the best human beings to ever coach the Florida Gators, which is a point I’m making not so much to dance on graves as I am to illustrate why there’s real reason to have hope moving forward. Removing these guys from the players’ daily lives will make them happier as people, and more excited to walk into the football complex and suit up at practice every day. And that, as we saw against South Carolina, was a major problem.
Ultimately, the proof will be in the pudding regarding whether or not this was an instance of Dan Mullen taking a step forward and growing, and making this program better in the long run. But at the very least, we do know that he’s made it better in the short run.
And for the more than two thousand words I wrote yesterday about why it was time for Florida to fire Dan Mullen– while I still stand behind the premise of that, I now see a piece of new evidence that did not exist at the time of publication- a piece of evidence that bucked over a dozen years of data that suggested such new evidence would not be possible. And so I do at least concede that it’s possible that maybe, just maybe, he can salvage his tenure in Gainesville at the last possible moment.
Time will tell.