Image Credit: GatorVision
Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain announced Friday that he has promoted Randy Shannon from his assistant coach to the position of defensive coordinator.
After serving in an interim role for the 2017 Outback Bowl — a game in which Florida held Iowa to just three points, setting a program record for best defensive performance in a bowl game — Shannon will now permanently replaces Geoff Collins, who left the Gators for his first head coaching gig at Temple.
“Coach Shannon has been a big part of our success over the last two years,” said McElwain in a statement. “It’s been really cool to watch him handle his business. He really connects with our players and they have a lot of respect for him. More than being a great coach, he is a great mentor and teacher to these young men and that is one of our greatest measuring sticks as coaches.”
Shannon spent 12 of the first 15 years of his coaching career with the Miami Hurricanes, serving as defensive coordinator from 2001-06 before being elevated to head coach. (The other three years were spent with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.) As a coordinator with the Canes, he put forward a top-five defense nearly every season; of course, Miami was also loaded with NFL talent.
Since being fired as the Canes’ coach, though, Shannon has not called defensive plays as he was a linebackers coach at TCU (2012) and Arkansas (2013-14) before receiving his three-pronged title (associate head coach, co-coordinator, linebackers coach) at Florida.
McElwain delaying his decision made a lot of sense as it gave him a couple weeks to evaluate Shannon as he managed the defense off the field and called a live game. Shannon most certainly proved himself if Monday’s game was indeed somewhat of a job interview.
“I appreciate the opportunity Coach Mac has given me to be the defensive coordinator at the University of Florida,” Shannon said. “We will continue to work together as we have the past two years to put together a plan so our players are in a position to be successful in football and in life.”
Here’s what Shannon’s promotion means for the Gators moving forward.
1. It should help recruiting: Known as a tremendous recruiter, Shannon has done a great job on the trail for Florida already through his first two seasons; however, now that he can tell kids he will be coaching them directly and be serving as one of the top three coaches on staff, that should provide him with even more recruiting ammo. That said, Shannon’s added responsibilities should lead to him dropping the unofficial title of “recruiting coordinator,” which may actually be good news for the Gators as well.
2. Shannon allows for some staff continuity: McElwain has done a good job keeping his players comfortable doing coaching transitions. When taking over for Will Muschamp, he kept much of the defensive terminology the same under Collins to ease the transition and kept offensive line coach Mike Summers on staff to run a position that had a crisis of depth. Moving directly from Collins to Shannon, who was heavily involved with the defense the past two seasons and has a great relationship with the players, doesn’t shake things up defensively for a unit that has been incredibly successful over the last few years.
3. There’s now some staff flexibility: With reports that Florida is interested in hiring Alabama offensive analyst Mike Locksley and/or offensive line coach Mario Cristobal, presumably to multi-faceted roles, McElwain now has the ability to do just that, though it would take some maneuvering. Should McElwain add Locksley, who would likely coach running backs and run recruiting, he would either need to move running backs coach Tim Skipper to the defensive side of the ball or make a couple additional staff changes. If McElwain was to bring on Cristobal, it would mean the departure of Summers, who reportedly interviewed with South Carolina last week. Locksley and Cristobal are both strong recruiters, and McElwain has said that he is taking that into serious consideration when determining who he will be adding to the coaching staff.
Another option is former Florida Atlantic coach Charlie Partridge, who worked with Shannon at Arkansas in 2013 and could take over Shannon’s roles as linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator. Partridge is another strong recruiter who would help bolster Florida’s efforts. The Gators’ 2017 class is currently ranked 19th nationally on the 247Sports Composite.