Florida Gators announce Jim McElwain’s coaching staff, Randy Shannon’s prominent role

By Adam Silverstein
January 5, 2015

The Florida Gators on Monday announced all but one member of head coach Jim McElwain‘s initial coaching staff.

The veteran staff includes a former head coach, ex-coordinators, an abundance of Southeastern Conference experience and coaches with renowned recruiting chops.

“As we were putting this staff together, we wanted to make sure that all the parts fit for us to be successful,” said McElwain in a statement released by the school. “This group has the knowledge, understanding and experience recruiting and coaching in the South, the state of Florida and the Southeastern Conference. They are like thinkers and don’t have self-serving agendas.

“They will all help our players be successful on the field, as students and in life and are excited about the opportunity to join The Gator Nation. This is the first step in putting together an infrastructure that will put the Gators back where we belong.”

Offensive line coach Mike Summers is the lone holdover from UF’s 2014 staff.

Below is a list of the hires along with OnlyGators.com‘s breakdown of each coach.


Randy Shannon – associate head coach, co-coordinator, linebackers coach
A Miami, Florida, native and veteran coach who spent the first 20 years of his career in Miami (17 with the Hurricanes, three with the Dolphins), Shannon served as a defensive coordinator (2001-06) and head coach (2007-10) of the Canes before being let go. He took over as linebackers coach at TCU in 2012 and moved over to Arkansas in 2013, adding the role of associate head coach. Shannon, 48, went 28-22 as head coach at Miami and was responsible for much of the Hurricanes’ recruiting successes. He earned more than $400,000 as an Arkansas assistant last season.

Greg Nord – tight ends coach, special teams coordinator
Nord’s 34-year coaching career includes stops at Kentucky (1979-89), East Carolina (1990-91), Georgia Tech (1992-94) and Louisville (1995-2009), where he coached either running backs or tight ends (or both) for 15-straight seasons. McElwain and Nord, 58, worked together under John L. Smith with the Cardinals from 2000-02, when Nord coached tight ends. He continued his career at Illinois (2010), back with UK (2011-12) and at WKU for the 2014 season.

Tim Skipper – running backs coach
McElwain’s assistant head coach and linebackers coach at Colorado State, Skipper is a versatile veteran who will be in the profession for his 15th season in 2015. Skipper, 36, has coached defensive backs, running backs (Fresno State, 2006-08) and linebackers; he’s also coordinated defenses at Western New Mexico (2002) and Sacramento State (2004-05). Skipper’s father (Jim Skipper, Carolina) and brother (Kelly Skipper, Oakland) are both currently running backs coaches in the NFL. Jim Skipper has coached running backs since 1979, in the NFL from 1986-Present (except 2001), while Kelly Skipper has coached running backs since 1997 but has been in the NFL since 2002.

Terrell Williams – defensive line coach
Williams, 40, is not as experienced as many of McElwain’s hires. He began his career coaching the defensive line at a number of smaller schools before taking over at Purdue (2006-09) and then Texas A&M (2010-11). He was hired by the Raiders in 2012 and is the first member of fired coach Dennis Allen’s staff to leave Oakland for another job.

Kirk Callahan – defensive backs coach
Callahan, a former Gators graduate assistant (2010-11), is a relatively young coach at 30 – especially compared with the rest of Florida’s hires – as the UCF job he’s held since 2012 is his first true assistant gig. Prior to that, he played for the Knights, served as a student assistant there in 2007 and was a graduate assistant for two years at North Carolina (2008-09). Callahan, a strong Tampa-area recruiter, led a UCF secondary in 2014 that finished 12th nationally in passing efficiency defense and 22nd in the country in passing yards allowed. He is the son of Seffner Armwood High School head coach Sean Callahan.

Mike Kent – director of strength and conditioning
A 34-year veteran who spent three seasons on McElwain’s staff at Colorado State, Kent has replaced Jeff Dillman before, taking over the Appalachian State program in 2009 and remaining there until McElwain brought him over to CSU in 2012. Florida is Kent’s highest-profile job by far as his prior experience as a program leader include a second stint at Appalachian State (1990-98) and stops at Eastern Kentucky (1999), Louisville (2000-03), Pittsburgh (2004-06) and Kansas State (2007-09). McElwain was also at Louisville from 2000-02. Kent started “Ram U” at Colorado State in 2012. The five-week spring system, modeled after Alabama’s “4th Quarter” program, tested the Rams’ physical and mental strength, pushing players to their limits.

Florida previously announced the hires of Geoff Collins as defensive coordinator and Doug Nussmeier as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

The lone unfilled position on the Gators coaching staff is for a wide receivers coach. Former Florida quarterback Chris Leak, who served in that role in 2014, is expected to remain with the program in a non-coaching role.

26 Comments

  1. cline says:

    we need a WR coach something bad.

  2. 1974Gator says:

    Can anyone tell me why Callahan is a good hire? Strong Central Florida recruiting? I hope Adam goes into some detail as to whether he feels Callahan is a good hire. Seems a little sketchy. Why is this 2+ year DB assistant coach qualified to coach the likes of Tabor and Hargreaves?

    • Strong recruiting, gets along well with the kids, his DBs at UCF were very successful.

    • Buster says:

      Also doesn’t hurt that his dad coaches one of the top HS programs in the state.
      That isn’t the reason he was hired. I have heard he is very well respected and was a GA at Florida IIRC.
      Just saying that would be nice to hang on to that Armwood pipeline. Hopefully Cowart keeps it going.

    • BRLgator says:

      If he landed us Cowart would you be satisfied?

      • 1974Gator says:

        YES!

        • Ken (CA) says:

          That’s a bit short-sighted, especially considering Cowart has been leaning UF for months. He may help, but I doubt that would be the reason should Cowart come here. Bringing in a coach for a single recruit in a single year isn’t long term success, and I very much doubt that was a significant factor in his hiring.

          I would bet that may help a little, but the big picture appears to be a strong vision Mac has with owning Florida in general and he has built the staff to do it with connections all over the state and good reputations with current recruits and coaches.

          • 1974Gator says:

            Yeah, I’m basing all my expectations of Callahan on whether he can assure Cowart signing with us. That’s a pretty narrow minded reply to my YES! post.
            That said, I do not think Cowart is leaning towards us any longer. Word is that with Muschamp and Robinson at Auburn he is very interested in the Tigers and is making an official visit in Feb. He is supposedly talking up his going to Auburn with other high quality recruits. So…..if Callahan is the reason Cowart now commits to UF it would show that he really does have excellent recruiting chops to me.

  3. GatorBoy20 says:

    Is Jay Norvell who just left Oklahoma a possibility for the WR job Adam?

  4. gatorboi352 says:

    Should the fact that a WR coach has STILL yet to be named be of any concern, considering, you know, the last 5 years of UF’s offense?

  5. Gator84 says:

    Isn’t Callhan related to the Armwood Seffner head coach?

  6. 305Gator says:

    Now that 99% of the staff is official let’s get on with recruiting.
    Go Gators!

  7. 305Gator says:

    Is recruiting coordinator “Randy Shannon’s prominent role”?

  8. corey says:

    What is Shannon co-coordinator of? Recruiting? Defense?

  9. Michael J. says:

    I’m not worried about a wide receiver coach. I’m sure that whoever comes will be an improvement over what we have seen in the past five years. A big deal will be actually keeping a wide receivers coach longer than a year. The delay in hiring one is fine if it means McElwain gets who he wants and they are committed to UF. Hopefully the entire staff decides to stay at UF for a few years, usually the continuity of a coaching staff bodes success down the line. There are exceptions, the head coach remains the most important factor for success, but stability in the coaching staff can only help. The choices all seem to be good ones, but there is one decision that was made that I think is a poor one. Having two defensive coordinators is a very stupid idea. Who will be in control? Who will make the decisions? Believe it or not, humans sometimes fail to agree on things. Does McElwain have to also become a referee and have to worry about making the final call when the two defensive coordinators are not on the same page? UF has done this before, and the results weren’t pretty. I think it’s an idiotic decision and am amazed that McElwain thinks it’s a good idea. We’ll see, but I think having two guys in charge means no one is in charge or responsible. It’s the first bad decision by McElwain, in my view, I hope this is not a sign of things to come.

    • Marc says:

      The official press release only called him a “co-coordinator”. There was no specification as to what he will be co-coordinating. I actually assumed it was recruiting, not defense.

  10. Buster says:

    Off topic, but if the Gators aren’t in on Golson or Braxton Miller who could potentially transfer and play next year then they are idiots.

    Treon is not the guy. One year of Golson or Miller and we could win an SEC title.

    • gatorboi352 says:

      Um, I’ll take the potential upside of a true sophomore Harris over the joke that Golston has been since his one fluke year to the NC game at Notre Dame. He lost his job this past season. At Notre Dame.

      Now, Braxton Miller I’ll gladly take over the QBs we currently have.

  11. Buster says:

    Not serious, but Chad Johnson tweeted he was interested in the Florida WR coaching job

  12. Ron says:

    I’m sure parents would be thrilled to know Chad Johnson was going to mentor their sons’ decision making process on and off the field.

    s

  13. Gatormom2012 says:

    Okay, not as knowledgeable as the men on here. My concern was injuries, lack of flexibility with Muschamp and self esteem issues were obvious with our players. While these may seem small and frivolous to some, these boys need a good dose of someone who knows what the heck they are doing, safety, recuiting, conditioning and the fans behind them.

Top