Pasquali's Pix: Pondering midseason assistant dismissals; UGA to complete its first 8-0 SEC run

Florida Athletics photo by Anissa Dimilta / Former Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who was relieved of his duties earlier this week, is among the many college football assistants who have been let go during the season.

Firing a head coach with games to play, which South Carolina and Vanderbilt did last season, or announcing that a change is coming, like LSU did last month by giving Ed Orgeron lame-duck status the rest of the year, have become quite common in college football.

The reasoning, of course, is that athletic directors can get an earlier jump on the replacements.

What's up with all the midseason assistant coaching casualties, though?

Earlier this week, Florida coach Dan Mullen parted ways with defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and offensive line coach John Hevesy, while Nebraska announced that coach Scott Frost's contract is being restructured and that four offensive assistants had been terminated.

"The early signing day has something to do with that right now," Mullen said Wednesday on the Southeastern Conference's weekly teleconference. "At this point of the season, you're several weeks away from signing day, and if you have an idea that you're going to make changes after the season, you look at your staff and say, 'If I was going to make this change after the season, I might as well do it now.' It also gives us the opportunity to evaluate how other guys would do coaching and give them an opportunity.

"This is a great opportunity for a young coach like Christian Robinson, and let's see how he does given the extra responsibility, so there are multiple factors that go into it."

Hiring a defensive coordinator is nothing new for Mullen, who landed Carl Torbush, Manny Diaz, Geoff Collins, Chris Wilson, Peter Sirmon and Grantham while at Mississippi State. He actually hired Diaz twice.

There is no safe point of a season anymore, with Auburn first-year coach Bryan Harsin dismissing receivers coach Cornelius Williams in late September after only four games. The following week, after Missouri was humiliated 62-24 by Tennessee, Tigers second-year coach Eli Drinkwitz gave first-year defensive line coach Jethro Franklin the boot.

Four games into last season, former Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt fired new defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh.

"It's a microwave society. 'What have you done for me in the last second?' That's all this is," Orgeron said. "It's a high-pressure job that pays a lot of money, and the expectations are high. If you don't meet it, they will let you go. We know that coming into the business."

Orgeron endured his share of highs and lows as a defensive assistant, going from two national championships with the Miami Hurricanes to Nicholls State to Syracuse to the University of Southern California. He also has been an interim coach who didn't get the USC job, an interim coach who did get the LSU job and an LSU head coach who is on his way out less than two years after the 2019 national championship.

In last Saturday night's 20-14 loss at Alabama, Orgeron was more animated than ever on the sideline, but he said that was more about the game that any emotions he is processing personally.

"I think you had to put this one game - this was LSU-Alabama," Orgeron said. "We were hearing that they were going to crush us and that we didn't have a chance and all that stuff. We went in there with guns ablazing and had fake punts and all that stuff. We were ready, and it was just one of those nights where we were in that zone.

"That's all that was."

photo AP photo by John Bazemore / Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) passed for 255 yards and two touchdowns to help the Bulldogs reach 9-0 overall and 7-0 in SEC play with last Saturday's 43-6 home win against Missouri.

Pasquali's Pix

New Mexico State at Alabama: This seems like a nice opportunity for Crimson Tide sophomore outside linebacker Will Anderson, who leads the nation with 21 tackles for loss, to build more stats in his Heisman Trophy bid. Tide 59, Aggies 6.

Mississippi State at Auburn: Overshadowed by images of Bo Nix scrambling toward the sideline and throwing it out of bounds is the fact Auburn hasn't allowed an offensive touchdown in six quarters. Tigers 20, Bulldogs 13.

Georgia at Tennessee: Will the Volunteers have the ball for more than 15 minutes? Bulldogs 38, Vols 16.

UTC at Mercer: The Mocs are hotter in early November than they were in mid-March. Mocs 27, Bears 17.

Boston College at Georgia Tech: Yellow Jackets running back Jahmyr Gibbs, the sophomore out of Dalton High School, ranks third nationally with 161.9 all-purpose yards per contest and has gone five straight games with at least a 50-yard play from scrimmage. Yellow Jackets 27, Eagles 24.

South Carolina at Missouri: Think nonconference opponents haven't been welcomed back this season? These two programs are a combined 9-9 overall and a combined 3-8 in SEC play. Tigers 30, Gamecocks 27.

Texas A&M at Ole Miss: The Rebels are hosting ESPN's "College GameDay" for a second occasion and for the first time since upsetting Alabama in 2014. Aggies 31, Rebels 24.

Kentucky at Vanderbilt: Mark Stoops suddenly seems stuck on 55 wins in his quest to break Bear Bryant's school mark of 60. Wildcats 29, Commodores 10.

Arkansas at LSU: The Razorbacks are on track to finish with a better overall record than the Tigers for the first time since 2002. Razorbacks 34, Tigers 27.

Other picks:

Florida 49, Samford 16

Pittsburgh 45, North Carolina 38

Cincinnati 42, South Florida 21

Michigan 24, Penn State 19

Oklahoma 37, Baylor 30

Wisconsin 38, Northwestern 15

Clemson 56, Connecticut 7

Memphis 31, East Carolina 22

Ohio State 33, Purdue 24

MTSU 30, Florida International 23

Miami 27, Florida State 20

Virginia Tech 35, Duke 26

Michigan State 35, Maryland 28

Wake Forest 32, N.C. State 31

Notre Dame 28, Virginia 27

Oregon 34, Washington State 9

Last week:

Winners - 20

Granthams - 5

Pasquali is 185-65 overall (74.0%) this season.

Contact David Paschall at or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.