UF players not surprised by Grantham’s decision to stay

Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham runs player through some drills last week. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

When the NFL calls, it’s customary to pick up the phone. That’s exactly what Florida’s defensive coordinator, Todd Grantham, did — at least twice, in fact — following UF’s 41-15 win over Michigan in the Peach Bowl.

Having spent a decade coaching in the NFL, including a three-year stint as the Cleveland Browns’ defensive coordinator from 2005-07, Grantham wasn’t ruling out the possibility of jumping back to the professional level.

After several reports named Florida’s defensive coordinator a candidate for various coaching gigs around the league, the idea Grantham would leave Gainesville after a lone season drove several Gators to campaign on social media for their coordinator to sign on for at least one more season with the Gators

So, when Grantham flew to Ohio for a second interview with the Cincinnati Bengals, many NFL analysts and pundits expected the defensive coordinator to depart Florida after just one season.

On Tuesday, Gators head coach Dan Mullen, who brought the defensive coordinator with him from Mississippi State to Florida, admitted the thought of losing Grantham — or any coach, for that matter — was concerning.

“You’re always concerned when you have good coaches. I think Todd’s one of the best defensive coaches in America. A lot of people want him,” Mullen said. “I think a lot of our coaches, people are coming after because, one, we have a good coaching staff. Two, we run a good program and I think a lot of people are interested in how we run the program, or to get somebody from a program that has been as successful as our has. There’s always that concern.”

However, according to several of UF’s defensive linemen, the thought of Grantham leaving the program didn’t make much sense, and therefore didn’t seem likely.

“I was pretty sure he was going to come back,” said defensive tackle Adam Shuler. “I mean, we had some really good defensive games. The country knows what he’s capable of, and what we’re capable of. It’s pretty big that he came back.

“It’s the NFL, but we have a chance to do something special here.”

Although Shuler did admit he wasn’t following Grantham’s interview process in the media as closely as some of his teammates, he said he already foresaw the 52-year-old defensive coordinator coaching the Gators for a second season.

“I wasn’t really watching it that close. I seen it here and there, but I thought that he was going to come back regardless,” Shuler said, “which he did.”

Junior defensive lineman Elijah Conliffe echoed the sentiments of his teammate.

“It’s very big because he brought in a great defense for us and helped us play to our strengths, so I’m really glad he came back,” Conliffe said. “(I was) not really (worried). I had a feeling (Grantham) loved the Gators. I see him on the sidelines after we won a game, taking his hat off, throwing it to the ground, getting excited, so I feel like he wasn’t going to go anywhere.”

Junior defensive end Zach Carter, expected to fill a large role this season, added to Shuler’s point that Florida’s expectations likely factored into Grantham’s decision to stay onboard. With Grantham back in the fold in 2019, the Gators must feel better about their high internal expectations.

“It’s pretty exciting, Coach Grantham deciding to come back. I think this defense has a lot to build on,” Carter said. “I really think Florida is inching towards winning a national championship, starting with the SEC. I think we’re pretty close, so I’m glad he came back to be a part of that.”

Up next

What: UF football practice open to the public

When: 9:45 a.m.–12 p.m. Saturday

Where: Sanders Practice Fields on UF campus. Bleachers will be set up on the east side along the Indoor Practice Facility. Fans can congregate on the east and south sides to watch practice.



  1. Grantham staying at Florida is solid evidence the program is developing into a championship program again. If we win the national championship though, he might want to add a Super Bowl to his accomplishments. I would be okay with that!

  2. The days of top college assistants getting signed away by NFL teams are coming to an end. The NCAA has quietly raised the limits on assistant coaches’ pay to the point that the best ones get a very competitive compensation package relative to what NFL teams pay for similar jobs.

    It’s quaint and naive on the part of players to believe that expectations for the Gators this season played a significant role in Coach Grantham’s decision to stay in Gainesville. If that were a serious consideration, he wouldn’t have accepted the Cincinnati interview in the first place. All that really mattered to coach Grantham were “the Benjamins.”

    Go Gators!!!

    • STL you are right as to the $. But it might have been a reverse on his part that got the contract extension. Regardless I’m glad he’s here. Look at the difference 17 to 18. It is something though of the jrs comments as they were in Macs program too. While they have been mostly respectful of Mac not one I’ve seen wanted to go back.

    • Players are “quaint and naive” to have an opinion of why Grantham stayed when they at least have a relationship with him; but we should take at face value your opinion that it was all about the Benjamins? People are different. So many different things motivate us, until Grantham tells us why he decided to stay, I take both opinions for what they are – opinions. But I do know which opinion has value regardless – the players, because whether they are right or wrong, their opinion makes them feel like part of something, let’s call it the Gator Standard. That has value in and of itself.

      • Scrud12, let’s see if I can better explain my logic.

        The situation that prevailed when the Bengals came calling was as follows: 1) the Gators had just completed a 10-3 season by embarrassing Michigan in the Peach Bowl, 2) the Gator D had just completed a major turnaround, were once again one of the top 25 defenses in CFB and were only losing 3 key starter to graduation or the NFL draft, 3) the Gators had just signed a top 10 recruiting class, including some very talented defensive players and 4) Coach Grantham had just signed a contract extension, guaranteeing him a $200K/year raise to $1.8 million a year for 3 more years.

        Logically, given those prevailing conditions, what reasonable cause did Coach Grantham have for agreeing to even take that job interview in the first place? Having had extensive NFL coaching experience going in, what reasonable cause did Coach Grantham have for turning down the Bengals’ eventual offer?

        There’s simply one logical answer to both of those questions: follow the Benjamins. In the end, the Bengals didn’t guarantee enough of them to make Coach Grantham give up what he already has in Gainesville and move his family one more time.

        I’m as big a Gator fan as any, but given those conditions going in, if the Bengals had guaranteed Coach Grantham more than $6 million dollars for 3 years of service, I wouldn’t have blamed him for taking their offer. Clearly, the Bengals weren’t willing to put that many guaranteed Benjamins on the table. Before their offer was presented to him, everything else was secondary.

        • Oh yeah? Says who?

          Well, for starters, I do too. It would be romantic indeed — even quaint — to think that Grantham stayed out of selfless allegiance or for the love of the Gators, and while I don’t doubt the latter for a guy who has moved as many times as he has, sorry, it’s more about the Benjamins than anything else.

          We lack the subjunctive mood in the English language, but we would say in Spanish, “Ojala Que”…….”Oh that it would be”. But it’s not, although what does it matter? Let’s just appreciate that we’ve got him for now and let it go at that. Truth is, the majority of these great assistants are mercenaries anyway!

          • You just nailed it 6! Gator Nation can celebrate the fact that for the first time in our experience, UF successfully turned away an NFL team’s attempt to raid our coaching staff.

            I’m not in any way being critical of Coach Grantham. Were I to find myself in his shoes, I would have done EXACTLY the same thing he did!

            I’m not even being very critical of the players, other than to marvel at their naïveté and, dare I say it, their hypocrisy. In a year or two, some of those very same players will be faced with choosing between making untold tens of thousands of Benjamins by declaring early for the NFL draft and helping the Gators compete for a NC by returning for their senior seasons. Guess which way almost every one of them will choose to go? And who can really blame them without being hypocritical themselves???

          • I followed your logic StL, and I’m not saying I know that it’s wrong, but Jaws and Gator-6 kind of started peeling back on what I meant below in terms of what motivates different people. That’s all. Certainly money is a factor for most people, but where it ranks and how important it is is extremely different (and relative). And…I can easily come up with a number of reasons why someone in Grantham’s position would listen intently to an NFL team I’d they came calling without really having a lean one way or another on whether they would go. I could list a few, but what’s the point, I don’t know if they were part of Grantham’s thought-process.

            In my own life I have listened intently and ultimately said “no thank you” to excellent opportunities that paid more than I was making at the time. People are different, and most change along their journey. Ah, the spice of life.

            In any event, I do agree with you on one underlying point – there were assuredly more factors in play than allegiance to the Gators, but as many posters here have said – let’s embrace his return for whatever the reasons and celebrate some ass-kickin’ D this year.

          • Ah, the spice of life….along with the journey and all the changes along the way. You, Sir, are a bit of a philosopher! I can’t quite say yet which is most important — the process or the end state — but sticking to Gator football as I am reminded from time to time to do, we can all agree on opening up that proverbial can of whoop-ass on both defense and offense this year. Good call.

            I’ve really enjoyed your posts this last week.

  3. i can understand the nfl wanting him back because the spread its finally catching on there so there is good reason to have someone who knows what to do about it. i have to admit i thought he was gone for sure, and it still wouldn’t surprise me to see him try his hand there if a better opportunity than the Bengals came along. Perhaps in a year or two a coach like robinson would be ready to take his place but keep the system in place.

  4. I do believe other factors can weight into a decision. He has a son in high-school, a wife who’s maybe tired of moving. The money here is good– so that’s certainly part of it, but I do believe a time comes in a man’s life where stability starts to count for something. If he went to the NFL the odds are he’d be someplace for 2-3 years, then moving again, and for what? I’d say the next move for him that makes sense would be a move up instead of sideways– head coach somewhere.

    • I have to admit, you’ve got a point there, Jaws. From a guy who PCS’d 17 times in 32 years, believe me, there’s a lot to be said for settling down in one place and taking care of the family. Then again, I haven’t probably made 1.8 million dollars in my entire, otherwise callow life — but I sure could get used to it even if it meant moving a few more times. I guess I’ll never know how that feels, tho…..I did what I did clearly not for any money……but being in one place for the last 20 years now sure do feel nice! Let’s hope Grantham goes native!

    • Gents, this discussion reminded me of a true story that, at least for me, clearly pegged the value of “other factors” for another famous sports figure.

      Coming off leading a 2nd World Series championship in 2011, Albert Pujols became a free agent after a career-to-date as a Cardinal. To say he was adored by St. Louis fans back then would be an understatement, as he was routinely compared to Stan The Man. Had Pujols retired a Cardinal, I’m certain he would have a statue erected in front of Busch Stadium some day, right there, next to that of Stan Musial. That’s the closest a living St. Louisan can come to achieving immortality!

      The Cards so wanted Pujols to finish his career in St. Louis that they offered him a 10-year guaranteed contract for $210 million, even though it would constrain the team’s finances for a decade. Pujols turned it down and signed a 10-year $254 million contract with the California Angels instead. To this day, when I hear someone on TV ask the rhetorical question, “What’s the price for immortality?” my confident answer is $44 million!!!

      Clearly, Coach Grantham’s “other factors” could have been “bought off.” Thankfully for Gator Nation, the Bengals didn’t reach THAT threshold with their offer… GO GATORS!!!