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Which Coach(es) Get Fired at Florida?

With a 4-3 record and a defense that’s playing very poorly, there could be at least one coaching change for the Florida Gators.

After two really good seasons to begin his tenure in Gainesville, Florida Head Football Coach Dan Mullen might be forced to make a tough decision by the end of the 2021 football season, or shortly thereafter, because of how the 2020 defense and now the 2021 defense performed.

Will he get rid of Defensive Coordinator Todd Grantham? There’s ample reasons why pressure is mounting for Coach Mullen to pull the trigger now and not wait any longer, or at least get rid of Coach Grantham right after the 2021 season. Here’s how the Florida Football program and Coach Mullen reached this critical juncture.

Yes, that 21-5 record from the combined 2018 and 2019 seasons looked great, but now Coach Mullen’s recent record does not look nearly as good. The Gators are 2-3 in the SEC, sit next to the bottom of the SEC East standings, and face the No. 1 ranked Georgia Bulldogs a week from Saturday in Jacksonville.

During the past two seasons, the Gators hold a mediocre 12-7 record.

While the Gators will likely lose to an archrival Georgia to make it 12-8 over the course of the last two seasons, it’s not likely to be as bad as the Cotton Bowl defeat to conclude the 2020 campaign.

Despite a Heisman Trophy finalist in Kyle Trask at quarterback last season, Florida finished just 8-4. Included within that record would be an embarrassing Cotton Bowl loss to Oklahoma by the score of 55-20. The Sooners ran for 435 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 10.9 yards per carry against the Gators.

Here’s the podcast discussing the finer details of what’s going on at Florida and what could transpire:

Therein lies the difficulty within this web of “what ifs” for Florida Football. The biggest issue would be the defense, and the coordinator that operates the defensive side of the football.

It’s Coach Mullen’s team, but it’s Coach Grantham’s defense. Mullen does not typically like to make hasty decisions regarding his assistant coaches, but Grantham has failed to even come close to maximizing the Gators’ defensive talent.

Dan Mullen yelling at Todd Grantham during the 2020 Kentucky game.

Dan Mullen yelling at Todd Grantham during the 2020 Kentucky game.

Florida’s 247 Sports national recruiting rankings from the 2017 (No. 11), 2018 (No. 14) and 2019 (No. 9) classes should be helping the Gators have a really successful 2021 season. Those players would be fifth-year seniors, seniors, and juniors for the 2021 team. Instead, there’s been disappointment.

Coach Grantham joined the Florida staff in 2018, and he’s simply been mediocre. For a proud and talented program like Florida, that simply does not cut it. Here are the Gators’ defensive numbers from the past two seasons, which by themselves could cost him his job, and possibly cost his boss to lose his job, too.

In 2020, the defense for the Gators allowed the following totals per game with their national rank after each category: 30.8 points (No. 74), 170.5 rushing yards (No. 71), and 257.5 yards passing (No. 100 nationally).

So far in 2021, Florida’s defense allowed 21.1 points (No. 42), 140.9 yards rushing (No. 61), and 197.6 yards passing (No. 28).

While the numbers appear to be an improvement from 2020 to 2021, there’s a caveat.

Against the three teams that the Gators lost to this season -- Alabama, Kentucky and LSU -- those teams combined to rush for a combined 549 yards, with 321 yards rushing allowed this past Saturday when the Gators took on traditional rival LSU in Death Valley.

Normally, one would consider the LSU offense to operate a powerful downhill rushing attack. That’s not the case this season, however, as the Tigers entered the game at No. 127 in the country in rushing. Yes, No. 127. There are only 130 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).

Even worse, LSU ran just basic running plays directly at the Florida defense, over and over. The other constant, Tigers running back Tyrion Davis-Price hammering the Gators to the tune of 36 carries for 287 yards and three touchdowns, setting an LSU all-time single-game rushing record.

Tyrion Davis-Price, Running Back, LSU Tigers

Tyrion Davis-Price demolished the Florida defense by way of gaining 287 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

That’s impressive for LSU, and an embarrassment for Florida.

Now, what will Coach Mullen do? He’s under pressure to fire his defensive coordinator, and yet he’s already made it clear that he wants to evaluate based on the following statements:

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“Defensively, same deal, we gotta go back, watch film, we’ll evaluate, you know I mean, uh...We played some solid defense at times this year; obviously we didn't in the second half of the (LSU) game today.”

When asked about different issues that have happened to his team such as false starts during the Kentucky game, then the defense not stopping the run against LSU, Mullen responded with the following comment:

“Yeah, you know, we’ll evaluate all that stuff. You know, after the course of the game. You know, it’s always much easier if there’s one thing you put your finger on. You know, and say okay. Hey, this was the one thing that was the issue, and let’s go fix that one thing. Uh, we’ll evaluate a lot. We got a bye week coming up. We’ll evaluate a lot of different things because it does...You guys have the stats; I don’t have the stats. We fix up some things and then some other things kind of come and bite us.”

After making it completely clear that he would just continue to evaluate the defense, as well as the team as a whole, Mullen made the following statement when asked “How does today’s defense change your perspective on (Defensive Coordinator) Todd Grantham at all?”

“Uh, nothing changes my perspective on anything. We are always evaluating things throughout the course of the season. Um, in everything that we do. Uh, it’s a long season. We’re in the middle point of the season here, going into our bye week, and you know, like I said, I’ll evaluate what we did well and what we did poorly. We’ll go look at the film. See how we can improve it, you know, for two weeks from now (against Georgia).”

Those comments directly related to Coach Grantham have drawn the ire of Florida fans. Rightfully so.

Evaluate? After the No. 127 rushing team in the land runs for 321 yards, Coach Mullen will simply evaluate?

What if Coach Mullen decides he will not fire Coach Grantham after this so-called evaluation? Would the powers that be inside the Florida Bull Gator Club revolt and not send in their checks? That’s an extremely wealthy and powerful entity within the world of Florida Athletics.

Would there be people in the Florida administration that forced Coach Mullen’s hand to fire Coach Grantham or else Coach Mullen would also lose his job?

These are the questions and decisions that the University of Florida executives and Coach Mullen will likely soon be discussing. Based on the performance of the Florida defense alone, it would be hard to imagine that at least one of Coach Grantham or Coach Mullen not being terminated by the conclusion of the 2021 football season, or shortly thereafter.

For UCF insights, college football news, and recruiting information go to: The Daily Knight podcast. It will be found on iTunes and Spotify. For more UCF and recruiting information, go to Twitter: @fbscout_florida and @UCF_FanNation, as well as my YouTube Channel and Instagram page. Like and Subscribe!

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