University of Florida

UF defensive coordinator Geoff Collins named head coach at Temple

By Jordan McPherson

Special to the Miami Herald

Florida defensive Geoff Collins has been named the next head coach at Temple. Assistant head coach Randy Shannon is one of the leading candidates to replace Collins with the Gators.
Florida defensive Geoff Collins has been named the next head coach at Temple. Assistant head coach Randy Shannon is one of the leading candidates to replace Collins with the Gators. AP

Geoff Collins is leaving the University of Florida.

UF coach Jim McElwain confirmed Tuesday morning that his defensive coordinator is going to become the next head coach at Temple University. It will be Collins’ first head coaching job after more than 20 years as an assistant at the college level.

“He’s a guy that’s meant a lot to us, as you guys know,” McElwain said. “One of the first guys that I hired. … People taking note as far as what we’re doing and how we’re going about it. I’m really excited for him moving forward.”

McElwain said he is unsure if Collins will be with the team when No. 20 UF plays No. 21 Iowa in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 2 but hopes to know by Monday.

McElwain said plans are already in the works to replace Collins. One of his options is current UF associate head coach, co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Randy Shannon.

Shannon served two stints at the University of Miami, most recently a 10-year stretch from 2001-2010 where he served as the team’s head coach for the final four seasons.

“Obviously, it just kind of happened,” McElwain said. “As a coach, you prepare for these things no matter who it is.”

Collins has coached the Gators to top-10 defenses each of the last two years. Heading into the Outback Bowl, UF ranks sixth nationally in total defense, giving up an average of 298.3 yards. Last year, Florida boasted the eighth-best defense (310.2 yards).

However, that streak of success would have been difficult to replicate next season. As many as eight of UF’s defensive starters this year could leave for the NFL Draft this year: seniors Jarrad Davis, Marcus Maye, Joey Ivie and Bryan Cox Jr; redshirt juniors Alex Anzalone and Caleb Brantley; and juniors Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson.

At Temple, Collins will replace Mark Rhule, who left the school last week to become the head coach at Baylor. Collins is the second former UF coordinator to be named the head coach at Temple since 2010. Former UF offensive coordinator Steve Addazio served as the Owls’ head coach from 2011 to 2012 following a six-year stint with the Gators. Temple finished the regular season this year 10-3 and won the American Athletic Conference following a 34-10 win in the conference title game over Navy.

ESPN’s Brett McMurphy was the first to report.

McElwain told reporters in Tampa last week that Collins is “a heck of a coach” and should be considered for head coaching jobs.

“They’re going to get a guy that motivates players, a guy that really understands the game on both sides of the ball not just the defensive side,” McElwain said of Collins. “He’s done a great job of studying the offensive side and the things that it takes there. [He’s] a relentless, competitive recruiter and a guy that’s now been around at some places to see how he can establish his own kind of way of doing things.”

The second-year UF head coach added that he would never stand in the way of one of his coaches when it came to them potentially receiving an opportunity to lead their own team.

“Somebody gave me an opportunity to have it and I’ll do anything to I can to help them,” McElwain said. “I think he’ll be a great fit at a lot of schools.”

Prior to his two-year tenure at UF, Collins spent four years at Mississippi State, the final two of which he was the team’s standalone defensive coordinator. Collins, 45, also has stops at FIU, UCF and Alabama in his more than 20 years of coaching.