Once word started leaking out last month that the Cincinnati Bengals wanted to hire Todd Grantham to be their new defensive coordinator, it seemed natural to assume he would be leaving Florida.
Because it’s the NFL. And because Grantham has a track record of never staying in one place for very long.
So, he would be leaving. It seemed like a slam dunk.
As it turns out, it was a slam dunk. But not the one everyone was expecting.
Grantham decided to stay in Gainesville.
“I like it here,” Grantham said. “My family likes it here. You’ve always got to factor in everything. When you do that, it was a pretty easy decision.”
Grantham weighed numerous factors. Who he’s working for, where he’s coaching, who he’s coaching, his family, where he’s living.
When he put it all together, Florida trumped Cincinnati and the NFL.
“I’ve got a really good job,” Grantham, 52, said. “I work for an excellent university. I like the administration. You look at (athletic director) Scott (Stricklin) and what he’s tried to develop from a family atmosphere. You look at Coach (Dan) Mullen. He and I, we mirror a lot as far as our beliefs and what you need to do from a football standpoint to be successful.
“I’ve got really good bosses. I love our players. I really enjoy developing them, being around them. I certainly look forward to the challenge of the SEC schedule. Looking to continue to develop and get us back to where Gator Nation should be. I want to be a part of that. So, we’ll continue to work and develop.”
Grantham likes his bosses — and they like him.
Stricklin made that clear right after the Gators’ big win over Michigan in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Knowing other schools or NFL teams might try to lure Grantham away from UF, Stricklin extended Grantham’s contract through the 2021 season and raised his salary to $1.8 million a year.
Mullen certainly approved of the bump for his defensive coordinator.
“You’re always concerned when you have good coaches,” Mullen said. “Todd is one of the best defensive coaches in America. A lot of people want him.
“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.
“We try to make this a great place to work, have a great quality of life and you’re at one of the premier schools in America to coach at. There’s a lot of draws for guys to want to stay here.”
Grantham felt the strong pull. So did his family.
“There were a lot of things that went into it,” he said. “I’ve got a great place here to work. I love the players here, they’ve really taken to our system. From a family standpoint, the community has been great to my family. My kids like it here. It’s a really great place to raise kids and I think it’s the best fit for me and my future.”
Grantham’s decision not only impacts his family, it impacts Florida’s defensive players, who now get to stay in a successful defensive system that they grew comfortable in last season.
“It’s big,” senior defensive tackle Adam Shuler said. “We had some really good defensive games last season. 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.”
Over the course of his almost 30-year coaching career, Grantham has coached at six different schools and with four NFL teams — Cowboys, Browns, Texans and Colts.
If his Florida defense continues to have success, there likely will be other job opportunities in his future.
He was asked if he could see himself eventually moving on to the NFL.
“I don’t think you ever say never,” he said. “I just look at that I’m the defensive coordinator at the University of Florida right now. I enjoy coaching, I enjoy teaching, I enjoy ball.
“Over the last little bit, the college game and the pro game have meshed to where they’re very similar in a lot of ways. But, to be honest, I’m just looking forward to being the coordinator here and getting us back to winning the way we should.”