His right-hand man
Los Angeles Times
Assuming Urban Meyer's latest resignation sticks, expect a top coach to take over. Remember, Meyer turned down Notre Dame to take the Florida job.
My guess is Meyer's former right-hand man Dan Mullen, now at Mississippi State, will get the job. As difficult as leaving beautiful Starkville would be ... never mind.
There are a lot of fine candidates who would make a fine Florida coach: Arkansas' Bobby Petrino, Oklahoma's Bob Stoops (he always gets mentioned), Oregon's Chip Kelly (but why would he?), Boise State's Chris Petersen (you might call him just to make him say "no"). Steve Spurrier was once a fine Florida coach, but he now says, "God smiled on the Gamecocks today."
Everything points to Mullen, the man who groomed Tim Tebow and whose hiring would make for the most seamless transition.
Petersen deserves shot
Family. You'll hear that word a lot while Florida hunts for Urban Meyer's replacement.
Dan Mullen comes from Meyer's coaching family tree. So does Charlie Strong. Either would be terrific, but Mullen says he's "absolutely committed" to Mississippi State, where his $1.2 million salary is the SEC's lowest known figure for a head coach. And Strong might feel loyalty to Louisville, which hired him after so many other programs foolishly passed.
I hope they pass on Bobby Petrino, a brilliant offensive mind but a mercenary who's loyal only to his wallet.
I'd like to see Chris Petersen get a shot. Short of massaging Kyle Brotzman's right leg before his ill-fated kicks at Nevada, Petersen has done everything possible at Boise State. firstname.lastname@example.org
Mullen known quantity
This one's easy. Florida AD Jeremy Foley won't fly around the country interviewing coaches as he did before hiring Ron Zook. This time, he just needs to pick up the phone.
Dan Mullen knows Florida, having worked there. He knows the current players, having recruited and coached many of them. He knows the system Urban Meyer preached, having helped develop it.
What's more, Mullen went on his own the last two seasons, taking over a challenging program at Mississippi State and going from four wins to eight in the tough SEC. He beat Georgia and Florida this year, lost to Auburn by only three and to Arkansas in double overtime.
The one red flag: What was Mullen's role in the Cam Newton controversy? But unless there's a problem there or a surprise candidate, Mullen looks to be the man.
First call an easy one
It's the same answer for both questions — at least it should be. Dan Mullen, an integral member of Urban Meyer's staff at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida, should have received the first phone call from Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley.
In two seasons at Mississippi State, Mullen has made the historically mediocre Bulldogs a contender in the SEC. It also has become clear that Mullen, the Gators' offensive coordinator from 2005-08, was a primary reason Florida's offense excelled early in the Meyer era. Since Mullen left, it has declined.
Other "name" coaches might be more attractive — Bob Stoops, for one — but at 38, Mullen is on the rise. He understands the recruiting landscape and knows what it takes to be successful at Florida.