Print and Go Back ESPN.com: SEC [Print without images]

Saturday, December 26, 2009
Stoops, Petrino, Mullen all worth watching

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

It’s one of the plum jobs in all of college football.

And after the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, it’s going to be open.

Urban Meyer’s stunning resignation for health reasons means somebody has some awfully big shoes to fill at Florida, and it also means that Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley will be conducting his third football head coaching search of the last decade.

Who’s on his short list?

All athletic directors keep a short list of coaching candidates in their top drawer. If not literally, at least figuratively.

You can bet Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops is somewhere on that list, probably near the top. Stoops, the Gators’ defensive coordinator for three seasons under Steve Spurrier, was the top target in 2001 when Spurrier resigned. But he’d only been at Oklahoma for three seasons and felt like he needed to stay put.

After more than a decade at Oklahoma, Stoops may be ready for a new challenge.

Arkansas’ Bobby Petrino is another name to keep in mind. He was on the list when Meyer was hired in 2004.

Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen, who served as Meyer's offensive coordinator at Florida until this season, also makes a lot of sense. He knows that program, knows Meyer’s system and is somebody Foley is very familiar with. Mullen also did a good job in Starkville this season, his first as a head coach.

At some point, somebody’s going to pry away Chris Petersen from Boise State. Maybe this is that time. Petersen has had an unbelievable run at Boise State.

Former Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan was a candidate in 2001, when Spurrier left, and has a good relationship with Foley. Shanahan coached at Florida in the 1980s as an offensive coordinator, but his next move is probably back to the NFL, possibly the Washington Redskins.