Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Who's on the short list at Florida?
By Chris Low
Now that Urban Meyer is stepping down as Florida's coach (again), the obvious next question: Who's next in line to coach the Gators?
Here's your proverbial short list (in alphabetical order):
Jon Gruden: What job does Gruden's name not come up for? A color analyst on "Monday Night Football," Gruden was linked to the Miami job last week, before taking his name out of consideration by affirming his commitment to ESPN. He won a Super Bowl as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and has strong ties throughout the state of Florida.
Dan Mullen: Could be one of the first calls Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley will make (or probably has already made). Mullen has done a terrific job in two seasons as Mississippi State's head coach, and the Gators' offense hasn't been the same since he left as their offensive coordinator.
Chris Petersen: Foley had great success the last time he went out West and brought in an innovative coach with an exciting brand of offense. Meyer came to Florida from Utah. Petersen has built a powerhouse at Boise State. He's had chances to go elsewhere in recent years, but hasn't budged. This may be the job that changes that.
Bobby Petrino: In his third season at Arkansas, he has the Hogs in a BCS bowl game for the first time in school history. He's one of the top offensive minds in the game and was on Foley's radar when Meyer was hired back in 2005. Giving Petrino the keys to Florida's recruiting machine could be scary for the rest of the SEC. He does have a sizeable buyout, more than $3 million if he leaves before the end of this year.
Bob Stoops: Maybe he's settled in at Oklahoma for good. Maybe not. Like Petrino, Stoops was another one of the names you heard prominently when Meyer got the job. He makes a lot of sense. Stoops definitely knows his way around the Florida program, having been Steve Spurrier's defensive coordinator in the 1990s, and he also has a good relationship with Foley.
Charlie Strong: Like Mullen, Strong is another former Meyer assistant who has done well in his first head-coaching gig. He has Louisville in a bowl game in his first season. Strong consistently put out dominant defenses at Florida and is also a fabulous recruiter. Bringing him back would make for a very smooth transition.
Kyle Whittingham: The Gators had success with one coach from Utah. Why not take a shot on the guy who replaced Meyer at Utah and has continued that success? The only difference with Whittingham is that he has a defensive background.