Gator Chomps: Coaching Rumor Mill, Randy Shannon to UF?

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For new Florida Gators head football coach Jim McElwain, the process of filling out his staff has been slow and methodical. His first hire was defensive coordinator Geoff Collins who held the same position at Mississippi State. Next came the all important offensive coordinator filled by former Alabama and Michigan offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier.

Outside of those two positions, the next most important coaching hire is the recruiting coordinator. For this job you want a guy who has proven recruiting skills and connections in key recruiting areas.

For McElwain and the Gators, that guy appears to be former Miami head coach Randy Shannon. Shannon spent the last two seasons coaching linebackers at Arkansas. Now he is expected to accept a position on Coach Mac’s staff as linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator.

Shannon was a starting linebacker for the 1987 national champion Hurricanes and spent his entire coaching career there before stepping down as head coach after the 2011 season. He is considered to be a strong position coach and should help mentor young talented linebacker corps.

Perhaps more important for the Gators, however, is his recruiting prowess and his significant ties to the recruiting hotbed of south Florida, particularly in Dade and Broward counties. The Gators have fallen significantly behind the other state schools, FSU in particular, as far as recruiting top in-state talent and bringing Shannon in should help reverse that trend.

To this point, nothing official has come from the university but we will update that as soon as it does.

The biggest question with Shannon coming in as recruiting coordinator is what does that mean for Travaris Robinson? T-Rob, as he is known by fans, was reportedly mulling competing offers from Auburn and Florida. With him coaching defensive backs he could very well stay on staff along with Shannon which would be an even bigger coup for the Gators. T-Rob also is considered an ace recruiter with significant south Florida ties. The two together might create a recruiting juggernaut for the Gators.

The hiring of Shannon, however, may very well indicate that T-Rob had already informed Coach Mac he intends to leave for Auburn as was previously reported by Booger McFarland.

Stay tuned to Swamp Music for more Gator Chomps and the latest on the UF coaching rumor mill.

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‘Twas The Night Before Christmas In The ‘Ville

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‘Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the ‘Ville
Not a creature was stirring
Not even a squirrel.

The O & B stockings were hung
By the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nussmeier
Soon would be there.

The Gators were nestled
All snug in their bed,
While visions of Sugar Bowls
Danced in their heads.

Coach Nuss in his visor
Coach Mac in Gator cap,
Had just settled their brains
For a strategy rap.

When out in the Swamp
There arose such a clatter,
They had to come down
And check on the matter.

The players had gathered
To practice this day.
A bowl game in B’Ham
Was still left to play.

The coaches they watched
Players practice with care,
Hoping to find
The cupboard not bare.

There’s DRob and Treon
Kelvin Taylor and Grier,
On Fulwood and B Powell
There’s talent left here

On Goolsby and Sousa
Sharpe and Johnson to block.
On Worton, on Thompson
And Lane to carry the rock.

But to return to the glory
Of Gators of yore,
The new staff will need
To bring in much more.

An O line that’s up
To SEC snuff
Will be required if they hope
To win near enough.

The old saying it’s not
About X’s and O’s,
You still need to have
Talented Jimmys and Joes.

So once the dead period ends
They’ll hit the ground fast,
To salvage what’s left
Of a low rated class.

Once spring practice starts
They’ll install the plan,
To return offense to Gainesville
And win back the fans.

The defense they roll
With Hargreaves and Poole.
On Tabor and Jackson
The backfield is full

Wilson and Dawson
Keanu Neal in the fray,
Nick Washington and
Let’s not forget Marcus Maye

On Rolin and Davis
Morrison too,
Anzalone, McMillan
The linebacker crew.

Khairi Clark, Gerald Willis
Thomas Holley and Cox,
Sherit, Ivie, McCalister
The pass rush should rock!

So as the Gators prepare
For the season finale,
And fans rife with hope
Behind the new staff they rally.

And as we all lay our heads
For a long winters sleep,
It’s good to be mindful
Of the company we keep

We are the boys…
In all kinds of weather…
We win and we lose,
But we still stick together.

Glad tidings Gator Nation
From the ‘Ville and the Swamp
Merry Christmas to all
And to all a good chomp!

Geoff Collins Hired, Florida Gators Coaching Carousel in Full Swing

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The Florida Gators officially announced their first assistant coach hiring under new head coach Jim “Coach Mac” MacElwain on Tuesday with Geoff Collins taking over the defensive coordinator position. The former Mississippi State DC takes over for interim head coach D.J. Durkin.

We knew things would move quickly in the search for assistants to fill out Coach Mac’s staff with the start of the recruiting dead period and Collins announcement is just the start of things.

The majority of former head coach Will Muschamp’s coaching staff were not expected to be retained. However, speculation concerning who might be retained has focused on four main coaches. Durkin, defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson, defensive line coach Brad Lawing, and offensive line coach Mike Summers.

It’s been widely reported that Summers is likely to be retained although nothing official has been announced by UF. The hiring of Collins means Durkin, who reportedly is being pursued by both Texas A&M and North Carolina for their vacant DC positions, is most certainly gone after the Gators bowl game. Lawing is expected to be gone as well and reports are he may retire altogether.

That leaves Robinson as the lone potential holdover. Despite reports he had decided to follow Will Muschamp to Auburn, nothing official has been reported by either Auburn or Florida and he is expected to be meeting with Collins to gauge a potential fit for him on Collins staff. The feeling is that he would like to remain at Florida and if so that would be a huge coup for Florida as he is their ace recruiter and has a strong presence in talent rich South Florida. Not to mention he’s a talented defensive backs coach and he’s well liked by the Gators current players.

An interesting name that has been reported to be in the mix to join Collins staff is former Miami Hurricanes head coach and current Arkansas linebackers coach Randy Shannon. He would likely come to Florida as a linebackers coach but could be given additional duties and or titles if he were to come. Shannon, a former Miami linebacker has significant recruiting ties in South Florida as well and paired with T Rob could make a recruiting juggernaut for the Gators.

Stay tuned for the latest in the Florida Gators coaching circus as the week rolls on

Should I Stay or Should I Go: Florida Gators’ Assistants Have Big Decisions Ahead

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As the Florida Gators football team prepares for their bowl game, the remaining members of former head coach Will Muschamp’s staff including interim head coach D.J. Durkin have big decisions ahead of them. Should they stay or should they go.

Of course, in the age of the internet when news, real or rumored, travel at the speed of light, conflicting reports abound concerning the future of these lame duck assistants. Who will be retained, who will be let go, who would like to stay, who can’t wait to bolt for greener pastures?

Shortly after Jim McElwain was named as Muschamp’s successor, it was widely reported that athletic director Jeremy Foley had suggested that Coach Mac attempt to retain both Durkin who was Muschamp’s defensive coordinator as well as Travaris Robinson (T Rob) who was the defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator.

This would seem to make sense as the Gators problems under Muschamp were on the offensive side of the ball not the defense. The Gators under Durkin and T Rob finished top ten nationally both of the last two seasons. Additionally, the Gators are loaded with top flight young talent and are in on several top defensive recruits this cycle.

Maintaining the core of the defensive staff including defensive line coach Brad Lawing would certainly help ease the transition to a new head coach allowing McElwain to focus on recruiting offensive talent and installing a new offensive system, the Gators fifth since 2010.

It also should help ease the transition from a recruiting stand point as T Rob and Durkin are the Gators best recruiters and have long standing relationships particularly with top recruits like CeCe Jefferson and Byron Cowart.

On offense, it appears offensive line coach Mike Summers might be sticking around at least according to top OL recruit Martez Ivey who insinuated as much in quotes given to Luke Stampini of 247sports.com.

Keeping Summers may be just what the doctor ordered for getting Ivey’s signature on signing day as he has built a solid relationship with Martez who is choosing between Florida and Auburn but has long been considered to be a Gator lean.

Perhaps even more important for the Gators recruiting effort will be keeping T Rob in the fold. He’s certainly the Gators ace recruiter and has a strong presence in talent rich south Florida. With the Gators being in the mix for a number of top defensive recruits, keeping him might be the biggest sales job of all and could very well determine if the Gators close strong or languish at the bottom of the recruiting rankings.

Right now it appears to be a tug of war between staying in Florida where he has a home or uprooting his family and going back to Auburn where he played and reuniting with Muschamp.

Booger McFarland has reported via Twitter that Muschamp made an impassioned plea for Robinson’s services late Saturday night and had convinced him to leave Gainesville. Despite that, nothing official has been reported and Robinson continues recruiting for the Gators visiting top lb recruit Jeffrey Holland over the weekend. Of course, anything official won’t likely be announced until after the bowl game.

Durkin might be the wild card. While at first it appeared a no brainer that he would be retained, his named has now surfaced in the search for a new defensive coordinator at Texas A&M according to Luke Stampini. There are also rumors he was offered the line backers coach position under Muschamp at Auburn. That wouldn’t seem to make sense unless he knew he wasn’t being retained at Florida.

All this means is that the initial reports that the new coach might seek to keep the core of the defensive staff together may very well be crumbling. At the least it shows the main players have options even if McElwain seeks to retain them and Florida might have to pay up to keep them around.

At this point the only assistant it’s safe to assume will be retained is Summers. After that it’s looking more and more like Coach Mac will be starting from scratch. With the recruiting dead period starting, he will likely be spending more time staff building and we’ll likely know more in the coming days.