‘We weren’t where we needed to be,’ Dan Mullen says of need for coaching changes

Florida fires defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, offensive line coach John Hevesy
Published: Nov. 8, 2021 at 2:46 PM EST
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Embattled Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has been fired.

Florida head coach Dan Mullen announced Monday that Grantham and offensive line coach John Hevesy were dismissed, two days after the team's 40-17 loss at South Carolina.

Linebackers coach Christian Robinson will assume defensive play-calling duties for the Gators.

Graduate assistant Michael Sollenne will work with the offensive line for the remainder of the season.

Mullen also announced that Paul Pasqualoni, who has served as a special assistant to Mullen since last year, will transition into an on-field role for the remainder of the season. Pasqualoni is a veteran coach who spent 14 seasons as head coach at Syracuse and two-plus seasons at Connecticut.

The Gators (4-5, 2-5) have lost three consecutive Southeastern Conference games for the first time since 2017.

Mullen said Grantham and Hevesy are "both excellent football coaches" and admitted that the decision to make a change was "weighing" on him, but once he realized it was inevitable, he decided it was in the best interest of the program to do it now.

"We weren't where we needed to be," Mullen said.

When asked what specifically led to the decision, Mullen answered, "We're not better than we were earlier in the year. In fact, we're worse."

Mullen said he did have some "discussions about" it with athletic director Scott Strickland but that he wasn't forced to make any changes.

"I'm the one that's responsible for this program," Mullen said. "I'm the one that's responsible for this team. … My job is to make sure that we go perform and this team plays to the Gator standard, which we're not doing right now, and so, you know, it's my responsibility to find a way to fix that."

Mullen said he has confident in himself and his ability to lead the Gators. He also believes there will be plenty of coaches interested in joining the program.

"This is Florida," he said. "I think there's a long list of people who want any job they can get here at the University of Florida in any aspect."

Mullen said he doesn't intend to name any full-time replacements to his staff until after the conclusion of the regular season, though he said he's "going to have some ideas" of who he'd like to hire.

Florida's 2020 defense was its worst statistically since World War II, and it hasn't been much better so far this season. Florida's defense has allowed more than 30 points in each of the last three games.

The Gators ended the 2020 season on a three-game losing streak after starting 8-1 and are just 2-8 in SEC play since beating Tennessee on Dec. 5.

Hevesy, who also served as the Gators' run game coordinator, came to Florida with Mullen from Mississippi State. He had worked with Mullen since 2001, when they served as assistants together under Urban Meyer at Bowling Green.

Grantham had served as Mullen's defensive coordinator since his last year at Mississippi State in 2017.

"We're going to search hard and get the right people for this program," Mullen said.

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