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Reports: Florida’s Todd Grantham to remain with Gators despite interest from Bengals

Florida’s defensive coordinator sticking around Gainesville will be seen as a big win for Dan Mullen.

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NCAA Football: Kentucky at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators will keep their fiery defensive coordinator for another year, it seems.

Todd Grantham will remain with the Gators despite interviewing with the Cincinnati Bengals for the same position, per reports from Harrison Tenzer of and Graham Hall of The Gainesville Sun.

Cincinnati’s interest in Grantham was first reported on Monday, with Will Sammon of The Athletic noting that the Bengals formally requested permission to interview Grantham and that sources indicated he was a “lead candidate.”

That evolved into Grantham interviewing on Tuesday and visiting with the team again on Wednesday, with national reporters conveying the message that he was coveted by the Bengals.

But Wednesday night brought news favorable to Florida from more Florida-centric outlets: Tenzer is a Florida graduate writing for a nascent pay site headed up by another Florida fan, while Hall is a beat writer for the Sun. Another subsequent confirmation came from Gator Country’s Nick de la Torre.

Now, a cynic might be inclined to believe that a college coach waiting until the week after National Signing Day to investigate an NFL job and the development of that interest a) playing out very publicly through a handful of national reporters and b) casting said coach as a wanted man would be the fruits of the labor of an agent adept at leveraging interest in his clients for pay raises without doing too much damage to college programs in the process.

And a cynic might be more inclined to believe that such things were possible with said coach if also operating under the assumption that said coach’s agent was none other than college football power broker Jimmy Sexton — as Sammon reported last fall ($) — and that Sexton would be loath to break up a lucrative partnership between two of his clients, given that said coach’s boss is also rather famously a Sexton client.

But I don’t have sources telling me that Todd Grantham and Jimmy Sexton parlayed interest from the Bengals into a substantial raise to stay at Florida. I just have a cynic’s hunch.

Regardless of that hunch, Grantham staying would seem to be good news for Florida. The Gators were good to great on defense in 2018 under Grantham despite a relative ebb in talent level on that side of the ball and some significant injuries, and though Florida is losing playmakers Jachai Polite and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson to the NFL, the incoming 2019 recruiting class is full of talents who would seem to fit Grantham’s aggressive 3-4 defense well.

And because the story of Grantham leaving was cast as an NFL team wanting him and the question of his departure framed as one of whether Florida could convince him to stay, all involved in Gainesville now get to spin Grantham spurning the NFL to coach the Gators as good tidings for the program.

What, if anything, Grantham will receive to stay remains to be seen. A large raise on his $1.4 million salary for 2018-19 to bring him in line with the truly elite defensive coordinators in college football might be a good call, and Florida’s whole staff might be set to receive just such a bump after a surprisingly successful 2018 season that culminated in a rout of Michigan in the Peach Bowl.

For now, though, Mullen’s regime seems to have progressed through the first cycle of the coaching carousel without a major defection.

And when selling the appeal of joining a regime, it’s nice to not have to explain defections.