Dan Mullen bringing familiar and infamous assistants to Florida Gators as first hires

By Adam Silverstein
November 27, 2017
Dan Mullen bringing familiar and infamous assistants to Florida Gators as first hires

Image Credit: ESPN Images

Florida Gators head coach Dan Mullen‘s staff is shaping up quickly with three familiar names headed to Gainesville, Florida.

Mississippi State Bulldogs co-offensive coordinators Billy Gonzales (wide receivers) and John Hevesy (offensive line) — both of whom previously coached the Gators — will be joining Mullen in his return to Florida, the school announced on Tuesday. Neither assistant was listed with a specific title in the release.

Gonzales, who left Florida for LSU after then-head coach Urban Meyer chose Steve Addazio over him as the Gators’ next offensive coordinator in 2009 following Mullen’s departure for Mississippi State, reportedly quit the gig by leaving his keys and cell phone on his desk along with a four-word Post-It Note: “I’m going to LSU.” He coached at Florida from 2005-09 before spending two seasons at LSU. He then moved on to Illinois and Mississippi State, where he was promoted to co-offensive coordinator after one season in 2014.

Hevesy coached offensive line and tight ends for the Gators from 2005-08 before leaving with Mullen to serve as run game coordinator with the Bulldogs. He was also promoted to co-offensive coordinator in 2014. Mississippi State’s offenses ranked 37th in scoring and 49th in total yards this year.

According to FootballScoop.com and now the Clarion-Ledger, another Mississippi State assistant in defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Todd Grantham. You may remember Grantham as the former Georgia DC who taunted former Florida punter/kicker Chas Henry with a choking gesture in the 2010 Florida-Georgia game. “You’re gonna f—ing choke. You’re gonna f—ing choke,” Grantham screamed at the time. Henry, of course, made the kick.

Grantham joined Mullen this past season. After spending much of his career in the NFL, he served as Georgia defensive coordinator from 2010-13 but got fired that last year after its defense ranked 45th in the nation. He spent the following two seasons at Louisville before moving on to Mississippi State. Grantham’s three Cardinals defenses ranked among the top 20 in the nation, while the Bulldogs ranked 24th in scoring defense and 10th in total defense this past season.

Throughout his career — particularly at Georgia — Grantham was much-maligned for his third-down defense. UGA ranked 79th, third, 37th and 64th nationally on third down during his four years with those Bulldogs. Mississippi State was 12th nationally in third-down defense this year, allowing conversions on just 31 percent of opportunities.

This story was updated on Tuesday at 4:15 p.m.


  1. Nick says:

    Mullen may want to seriously reconsider bringing Grantham to Florida. Three reasons why; (1) He’s not as good of a DC as Shannon. (2) The current recruiting class, that is highly ranked, want Shannon as our DC. I know you can’t let recruits dictate who your coaches are but Shannon is a great recruiter and a way better DC than Grantham. (3) The Gator Nation will not embrace Grantham after his antics in the 2010 UF/UGA game towards our kicker. I believe this would not be a good move.

    • Kelly Gale says:

      I agree.

    • John says:

      100% concur. They need to find a spot for Shannon besides LB Coach, he’s a better DC now than Grantham.

    • Jerry says:

      Agree. Randy Shannon is a class act, a better DC, and 100% loyal to Gator Nation. I want Randy Shannon for DC!!

      • GATOR-6 says:

        Yeah, I’d prefer it too, Jerry. At least a chance at it, but there’s got to be a place for a class act like him somewhere, at least.

    • JD says:

      Grantham is one of the best in the nation…just look at numbers over his career…with Saban…many NFL years and this past year with Miss. State…he may have made a gesture…but it was because he wanted to win…if he becomes Fla St. DC he will dominate the SEC defensively.

    • Marshgator48 says:

      With all do respect, Grantham is the right choice. We need to get rid of the culture that has been here for too long. New recruits will love the aggressiveness of Grantham. We’ve been to long w/o a aggressive D coordinator. Shannon is a good coach and a somewhat good recruiter in S FLa. Remember Grantham worked under Richt, famous for letting off the throat unlike Spurrier’s and Meyer’s Defensive coordinators. My take is Mullen is going to let our boys lose and that is about time. Go Gators

  2. JimmyJohns says:

    Grantham is a POS and has burned bridges everywhere he’s been. Definitely don’t want him on our sidelines.

  3. Nancy says:

    Anyone that couldn’t beat out Steve Addazio for a job doesn’t deserve any spot on our coaching staff. Ugh all around. Starting with Stricklin, it would have been much simpler for UF and Miss St. to just trade school names.

    • Tanner says:

      Nancy being an offensive coordinator is very different than a positional coach. He’a got ties to the Gator program and had success in his role, helping lead us to two national championships. He’s not being brought in to be an offensive coordinator, so he’s a good hire.

    • corey mulvihill says:

      The receivers were pretty darn good during his time at UF…still not Dwayne Dixon, whom I wish they would hire along with Zook as the Special Teams coach/recruiting coordinator, but I have a feeling that he knows how to work that offense better than Addazio ever did.

    • BRLgator says:

      Saying someone shouldn’t be our coach because Meyer passed over him for a promotion 8 years ago is odd. Addazio has been a succesful head coach so I dont think that says anything negative about Billy G. Also the best the receiver corp ever was was under Billy G. He is also a great recruiter.

    • GATOR-6 says:

      Nancy, I certainly disagree c you, but that last line was so hillarious that I’ll give you 5 stars anyway! Beat my previous comment about switching uniforms c Florida State by a mile.

    • Gary Furman says:

      Spot on Nancy. Its late July and look what a trainwreck the recruiting is. Grantham has a potty mouth and is far and away the worst recruiter in the conference.

  4. Jerry says:

    Must keep Randy Shannon as DC. He is my choice for HC if Mullen did not take job… makes no sense to replace him as DC with the ex-Georgia coach… Go Gators.

  5. G2 says:

    Not off to a good start with these assistants.

  6. Jon says:

    Maybe I’m missing something, but for the offensive side of the ball, wouldn’t we want Dan to bring his assistants with him who’ve helped him be successful? Urban did this when he came here. I don’t believe Mullen called all the plays himself as an HC, so whoever was coordinating his offense should join us in GNV. Why should go out and hire completely different people and mess up his flow with those he already trusts? Regarding Grantham, don’t approve his antics but will just have to let Mullen take the keys…

  7. Razz says:

    Def want Billy. Def don’t want grantham

  8. Michael L. Jones says:

    These comments are crazy. Love Shannon as a person. Pretty cool guy. But really, I mean REALLY, sucks as a defense coordinator. Our defense underperformed and looked poorly coached so much of the time. I can recall specifics all year long that I won’t bore you with. Adam described it perfectly in his article after the FSU game. Don’t confuse “I like Randy Shannon” (who doesn’t?) with “Randy Shannon is great DC.” Please.

    As for Adazzio, what a nightmare he was as an OC. “Tebow left, Tebow right, Tebow up the middle.” His inability to match Mullen’s performance with the same talent tells you plenty about Mullen’s offensive mind and playcalling. Meyer made a mistake there, and just because Meyer picked him doesn’t at all equate to him being better than Gonzales.

    Breathe, people. Let the man pick his staff. He knows what he’s doing. He’s got to retrain 120 kids who have picked up some really bad habits and who don’t know his system. You want him to have to do that with assistant coaches who don’t know his system either? Makes no sense.

    My biggest concern is that he either retains or hires someone with strong south Florida ties for recruiting.

    Go Gators!!!

    • CCH says:

      RS is a great person but a bad DC. Not sure Grantham is the answer but I know RS is not.

      Btw…everyone keeps mentioning south Florida, who has RS delivered? Sure as heck hasn’t been any 4-5 Star LBs.

      • BRLgator says:

        Totally agree. He got Callaway and I will give him credit for that although appears his days as a gator are over. He was very dissapoionting as a DC this year and I never got the hype of him as a great recruiter. I think he is a great man and once kids were committed they liked him and respected him but I never got the impression he was the salesman in the field.

    • Marshgator48 says:

      Good post. You are dead on about Tebow after Mullen. There was a reason why Mullen had an open door policy at his home w Timmy.

  9. Michael L. Jones says:

    P.S. Maybe keep Shannon as an Assistant Head Coach so he can continue to work his magic in south Florida. He’s a classy guy, represents us well and is an excellent recruiter.

  10. JP says:

    Grantham is great!! He will do miracles for you. (We play you every October and we have seen what to expect from him and like it ). UGA fan base.

    • KB says:

      Hahaha… damn UGA fans kill me.
      On here worrying about what UF does.
      You should worry about Keven Steele and I’m quite sure you were laughing probably saying the same thing about him as a DC too.
      How well did that turn out 2 weeks ago?
      You get to see him again so worry about your own problems as UF can worry about theirs. See you next October!

      • GATOR-6 says:

        Sounded like another sportsman giving his opinion,KB. That’s how I took it, anyway. What nefarious content did I miss?

  11. BRLgator says:

    When a new coach comes in he gets to hire his own staff. Often times staff hires can make or break a coach (see Charlie Weis and Nussmeier). I would love for Shannon to stay but I have no issue with Grantham. He has had success in the SEC and the NFL, just look at the coaches he worked under Jim Mora, Dom Capers, Romeo Crennel. If Randy is willing to be the LB coach and asst. head coach, great. If not, its ok. I’ve never been sold on him as a dynamic recruiter.

  12. Skip says:

    Jajuan Seider, only keeper, should stay. Grantham better RS. DC to get Todd Orlando, Texas. OC Mike Yurcich Oka St. DL Kevin Patrick, NC St, Zach Duval S&C, UCF. Everyone else is a open question.

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