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Rumors already swirling around potential Meyer’s replacements

Getty Images - Geoff Burke

It’s been a little more than three hours since Urban Meyer stunned the college football world — again — by stepping down as Florida’s head coach.  We’re still roughly an hour away from the press conference featuring Meyer and athletic director Jeremy Foley that will hopefully shed a little more light on a decision that seems both final — this time — and made with an eye toward family.

And naturally, given the nature of the Internet beast, the rumor mill is already churning out names at a prodigious clip as to the potential candidates to take over one of the premier programs in the country.

First and foremost, Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen seems to be at the the top of nearly every early list of replacements.  Given the relative success he’s had in two short years in Starkville and his ties to UF as Meyer’s offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, Mullen’s inclusion is a no-brainer.

Another coach with recent ties to UF is Charlie Strong, and naturally he’s being mentioned in connection to the opening as well.  With just one season as Louisville’s head coach, the former Gators defensive coordinator might be considered a longshot.  Then again, does he deserve any less consideration than Mullen and his two years with the Bulldogs?

As expected, the big-name coaches are being bandied about as well, chief among them Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops.  Again, it’s a natural fit after UF tried to hire him when the job came open in 2001.  We spoke to a source close to the Sooners head coach earlier Wednesday afternoon, however, and this person implored us to not connect Stoops’ name to the Gators job because “Bob is not leaving Norman.  Not for Gainesville, not for anywhere else.”  So, take that as you will, but we tend to believe it.

With a perfect record and a spot in the national title game as well, the name of Oregon’s Chip Kelly has been floated as a possibility.  Let’s just nip this one in the bud right now:  Kelly will leave Eugene over Phil Knight‘s even-creepier dead body.  The Nike CEO will simply not allow that to happen, even if Foley were to have him on his initial to-do list.

Here are a few other names that have been tossed around in the initial stages of The Retirement, The Sequel:

Chris Petersen, Boise State — Foley pulled a non-AQ rabbit out of his hat with the Meyer hire; would he tempt fate twice and go after one of the top five coaches in all of Div. 1-A?  I don’t know if he will, but I know he should.  The only question is, would Petersen want to leave?  It’s not that Boise State is a better job than Florida, but it might be a better fit for Petersen than the Gators.

Gary Patterson, TCU — Same boat as Petersen: has done a helluva job with a whole lot less in both talent and revenue streams.  Would almost certainly be on the short list of any A.D. at a big-time program such as Florida, but, again, it would all come down to fit.

Jim Harbaugh, Stanford — Although it’s being rumored already, you can all but forget about this one.  He will stay with the Cardinal… until the Michigan job opens up, which could be sooner rather than later.

Bobby Petrino, Arkansas — Razorback fans are already verklempt over the possibility of Petrino ditching them for the Gators, and he was rumored to be a candidate during Meyer’s brief 24-hour retirement in 2009.  That said, it would be hard to see Foley putting his post-Meyer eggs in the basket of a man who will always have a wandering eye.

Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech — Why not?  His name is attached to every other job in the country, why not this one?  And don’t think for a minute that Tuberville wouldn’t ditch the Big 12’s Red Raiders for the chance to return to the SEC.  It’s what he wants before his coaching career is over, but it remains to be seen whether UF would be the right fit.

Jon Gruden, broadcast booth — He flirted with Miami when  their job came open.  Don’t expect this Florida school to do the same, despite the fact that he’s already seeing his name attached to the opening.  UF is in a position where they do not have to entertain a person who’s simply interested in keeping his name in the coaching mix for when he’s ready to return to the sidelines.  The Gators are above that, and they know it.

In the end, I would put a fairly significant amount of money on Mullen returning to Gainesville.  And for it to happen sooner rather than later.

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43 Responses to “Rumors already swirling around potential Meyer’s replacements”
  1. spudvol says: Dec 8, 2010 5:43 PM


    You should just be happy this time every year that you are not be charged to use that photo of Petersen.

  2. Deb says: Dec 8, 2010 6:01 PM

    Tubby would kill for it … but Florida can do better.

  3. WingT says: Dec 8, 2010 6:15 PM

    Wow, both Miami and Florida head coaching positions are open. It’s going to be interesting to see who lands at these two schools.

    I think that Blitz should put his name in the hat for Florida. :)

  4. therealtigersofthesec says: Dec 8, 2010 6:16 PM

    Rumor Urban Meyer will replace Verne Lundquist.

  5. spudvol says: Dec 8, 2010 6:21 PM

    Someone posted this on twitter- Jimbo Fisher is now the dean of Florida BCS football coaches having beaten Skip Holtz by a few weeks.

  6. jamie54 says: Dec 8, 2010 6:37 PM

    Petersen, Patterson, or Paterno….oops skip that last one. First two would be verrrry interesting.

  7. tryagainplease says: Dec 8, 2010 6:42 PM

    Bobby Petrino, Arkansas

    bobby used to be a slut but he’s happy now and turned into a one team kinda guy. (i hope anyway… *gulp*)

  8. blitz4848 says: Dec 8, 2010 6:50 PM

    Petrino would be a fit—he was wanderer but he burned his NFL bridges so if he was successful at UF there wouldn’t be anywhere to wander to…..

  9. drexelvol says: Dec 8, 2010 7:16 PM

    What about that douche bag that’s coaching South Carolina?

  10. cometkazie says: Dec 8, 2010 7:27 PM

    What is Gruden’s college coaching experience?

    I don’t think his NFL experience is very impressive given he left both teams in shambles.

  11. dutchman1350 says: Dec 8, 2010 7:28 PM

    What about Dave Wann-stache? Would love to see his blank stare on the swamp sideline.

  12. williered says: Dec 8, 2010 8:36 PM

    A process of elimination for the Florida job would most likely include: Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier, Bob Stoops, Les Miles, Mack Brown, Gene Chizik,
    Chip Kelly, Brian Kelly and Jim Tressel, among others. Obviously some are more desirable and make more sense than others. The bottom line is Florida will get a big name coach with a proven, winning track record.

  13. ummmreally says: Dec 8, 2010 8:47 PM

    Petrino? Petrino? Do you guys not have anything better to do than jump on some guy that hasn’t moved in three years? Are you seriously that pathetic of a “journalist” that you can’t see he’s not going anywhere any time soon?

    Seriously, you need some new material before you post another list. Keep up with the times.

  14. skinnypigeon says: Dec 8, 2010 8:49 PM

    Dad-gummit! His momma makes the best pot of turnip greens ever!

    It’s the comeback that Bobby Bowden has been waiting for.

  15. dkhhuey says: Dec 8, 2010 8:58 PM

    DickRod will no doubt be looking for a job very soon – feels like a good fit to me.

  16. 1historian says: Dec 8, 2010 9:12 PM

    This happens every year in one form or another. Remember last year when Brian Kelly was hired by Notre Dame? With college football as big as it is and the enormous amounts of money, there is no good way to do this.

    All will be well

  17. gatorprof says: Dec 8, 2010 9:50 PM

    I don’t think that Mullen is a good fit. Mullen’s O only looked good with Tebow and Harvin. I hate the spread option, always have. It only works in the SEC when you have two “once in a generation” type skill players on your roster.

    It was Strong’s D that won the first title and was a big part in the second. Strong would come in and do well quickly.

    Gruden doesn’t fit…Bernie wouldn’t hire someone that would have to be repeatedly beeped.

    Petrino has too much baggage.

    Tuberville is an interesting guy as he has already had great success in the SEC. I don’t know exactly what happened in 08 at Auburn, but assuming that wasn’t a skeleton type issue, I would certainly give him a second look. He does have that Zook fact…beating top teams, but losing to team that he should beat.

    Gotta look at Gary Patterson.

    The others are either not movable or not desirable.

  18. 1990tiger says: Dec 8, 2010 9:51 PM

    I could be wrong but I really don’t see UF being interested in Tubberville or Peterson leaving Boise.

  19. Deb says: Dec 8, 2010 10:51 PM

    The Boise coach? Really? In the SEC? But our fields are green.

    Petrino is building a nice program at Arkansas, so don’t know what he’d gain by going to Florida. Don’t think Gruden would make a good choice for a college team.

  20. gatorprof says: Dec 8, 2010 11:09 PM

    Re:”Petrino is building a nice program at Arkansas, so don’t know what he’d gain by going to Florida.”

    He would gain better facilities, better recruiting backyard, and better boosters to facilitate what ever he wants to do. I am going to go out on a limb here and say that UF is a better program than Ark. I will also say that the East is a easier road to Atlanta than the west is…

    The downside is that Bobby doesn’t perform well under high expectations. I also don’t think that Foley would go for someone like Bobby given his affinity for whoring around.

    UF has a big issue in finding a good, not great, replacement. While Meyer is no Bear, he did win 2 titles during his short stay here making the shoes a wee bit difficult to fill. Yes, this season was awful, but the folks down here will expect 10 wins next year…always have, always will at least since Spurrier arrived.

    I really think that Strong will be the answer. If he can go out and get a great OC, we are back in business.

    Somewhere Jimbo is cackling and rolling a blunt with UF and the U in disarray during prime recruiting season.

  21. frug says: Dec 9, 2010 2:27 AM


    I really can’t imagine Paterson leaving TCU. He was repeatedly turned down offers from other schools and now that TCU has finally secured it’s long sought goal of AQ status one of UF’s selling points is no longer relevant especially since TCU will have a much easier shot at winning the Big East than Florida will the SEC simply because of the level of competition. Moreover, he has always come off as a bit shy, especially with the media, so he would might be apprehensive about taking a job with one of the most high profile teams in the country.

    Chris Peterson on the other hand would be more viable. The departures of Utah, TCU and BYU has pretty much eliminated any shot the MWC had at attaining AQ status and while the lesser competition makes it more likely BSU will be a perennial BCU buster, it will drastically lower the already poor odds of BSU actually getting a shot at the National Championship. While he would probably prefer the life of BSU coach to UF coach the chance at a National Championship (and an extra $3 million dollars in salary) could be enough to lour him away. (That said, my gut tells me Florida looks elsewhere)

  22. frug says: Dec 9, 2010 2:28 AM

    Sorry, that second sentence was suppose to read, “he has repeatedly turned down offers…”

  23. hashfest says: Dec 9, 2010 6:51 AM

    Don’t most of these guys have contracts?

    Didn’t many people give Rich Rodriguez grief when he left for Michigan because he was under contract with WV?

    Let’s see if any Florida fans complain when, say, Mullen leaves Mississippi State. Isn’t he under contract? Didn’t many of you complain about RichRod?

  24. kupski says: Dec 9, 2010 7:52 AM


    The boy who cried wolf

    How many times is he going to do this ?

  25. hashfest says: Dec 9, 2010 9:23 AM

    Aren’t a lot of the guys being talked about for both jobs under contract?
    I remember the grief Rich Rod got when he left WV for Michigan.
    ANY OF YOU who complained about RRod certainly now cannot possible think that the Hurricanes or the Gators should go after someone currently under contract.
    Or…is is OK now that YOUR team is looking for a coach?

  26. blitz4848 says: Dec 9, 2010 10:04 AM

    Under contracts coaches are not an issue for UF and the Bull Gator Alumni Assoc—there’s no buyout to big if Foley tells the Assoc he wants somebody. That said….
    Les Miles, Nick Saban and Mack Brown are NOT on any UF short list.
    I agree Charlie Strong would be a good Gator Nation fit. Well thought of by Gators, great D coach and little offense experience so he could hire a high profile OC and let him run with the offense. Strong is a very good recruiter and relates well with players and is a good practice development coach. His lack of HC experience could be offset by putting together a Strong coaching staff. Rich Rodriquez would make a very good OC and give him 2 or 3 yrs to rebuild his rep. Bringing back Billy Gonzalez from LSU as receivers coach would be another good move.

  27. hashfest says: Dec 9, 2010 10:06 AM

    So Blitz, you didn’t complain when RichRod left WV?

  28. 1990tiger says: Dec 9, 2010 10:41 AM

    I can see UF also being interested in Malzahn (OC) from Auburn.

  29. blitz4848 says: Dec 9, 2010 11:25 AM


    Not at all…’s an open market…coaches in general never honored their contracts so schools came up with “buyouts” to at least get something. Michigan made a “panic” hire without doing their homework when they hired RichRod. Foley will do face to face interviews to see if a prospective HC hire fits the Gator Nation and vice versa. There will be no panic hire nor will there be any mad rush to protect the incoming recruiting class.
    Foley has Urban around until Jan 2nd and Urban is a class act and will keep the recruits committed until we have our new coach on board.
    Foley will find the best fit, the Gators can be selective as this is one of the best jobs in the country, as long as you win. Foley stated this morning “buyout clauses will have no effect on a hiring decision.” Translated literally that means the Gators can cover the largest buyout out their with 1 or 2 phone calls.
    College football is a business, big business, so if you expect the best you should pay the best for the best if the need arises.
    ^^^^^ GO GATORS ^^^^^

  30. Deb says: Dec 9, 2010 11:41 AM

    Good night, blitz, who mentioned Saban?? Don’t mean to be rude, but that would be a step down for him. As edge said, Bama is place where college coaches end their careers. Sure wish some of the people commenting on these boards would read up on at least a smidgeon of football history.

    @1990tiger …

    As I just posted on the other board, Florida needs to move forward and your OC won’t be available until after the National Championship. All the Auburn coaches have the spectre of the FBI investigation hanging over their heads. But most important, the perception is that any coach could have succeeded with an athlete of Newton’s caliber. Just don’t think Malzahn will be recognized as orchestrating Auburn’s championship run.

  31. blitz4848 says: Dec 9, 2010 11:57 AM

    @ Deb

    williered says:
    Dec 8, 2010 8:36 PM
    A process of elimination for the Florida job would most likely include: Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier, Bob Stoops, Les Miles, Mack Brown, Gene Chizik,
    Chip Kelly, Brian Kelly and Jim Tressel

  32. fatediesel says: Dec 9, 2010 12:00 PM

    cometkazie says: Dec 8, 2010 7:27 PM

    What is Gruden’s college coaching experience?

    I don’t think his NFL experience is very impressive given he left both teams in shambles.

    Gruden left the Raiders in great shape, seeing as they made the Super Bowl the year after Gruden left (a Super Bowl they lost to Gruden). The team fell apart because of poor coaching and horrible decisions by Al Davis. Tampa fell apart in large part because of cheap owners that refused to sign any free agents, but have rebounded nicely after a down year. Also, Gruden wasn’t the GM of those teams, so if the teams were left in shambles you can’t really blame him. I’m not a Gruden apologist by the way and think he should be an NFL coach.

  33. hashfest says: Dec 9, 2010 1:29 PM

    All I was suggesting as that RichRod got a LOAD of crap for running out on his WV contract.

    How will this be any different?

  34. gatorprof says: Dec 9, 2010 1:54 PM

    Malzahn is not viable. He is an great offensive mind, but does not play well with others if they put any constraints on him. Sorry, but UF won’t give him carte blanche.

    Rich Rod has too many warts, much like Bobby P.

    Despite all of the thoughts here, UF isn’t going to take a questionable character person (not that Saban is on the market anyway as Deb pointed out).

    One person flying under the radar that is being worked on is Tony Dungy. He is a class act and would be a great coach/mentor. As I said, I think that Strong is the best fit. They will probably ask Bobby Stoops again…I HOPE that doesn’t happen. Big game Bob lost his mojo 7 years ago. They will likely go after Mullen as well…but hopefully not.

    One of the reasons Urban could recruit when he first got here was Charlie Strong.

    I know it wouldn’t happen, but have Strong be your HC and rehab Mike Leach as your OC.

  35. 1990tiger says: Dec 9, 2010 3:49 PM

    gatorprof says
    “Malzahn is not viable. He is an great offensive mind, but does not play well with others if they put any constraints on him. Sorry, but UF won’t give him carte blanche.”
    I can only hope you are right. I would like to keep him at AU.

  36. patsfan87 says: Dec 9, 2010 4:24 PM

    Malzahn is a coach killer. People in college will NEVER hire him as a HC after what he did at Arkansas to alienate Houston Nutt with Mitch Mustain and other Ark HS recruits. He is only looking good because of Cam Newton.

  37. tryagainplease says: Dec 9, 2010 4:42 PM

    there’s no way malzahn doesn’t have a head coaching job after this year. i am not his biggest fan– and i do agree that he looks much better this year than he could ever possibly be, purely due to cam. but he’ll never appear more like a world beater than he does this year so he needs to get a hc job while the getting is good.

    i would say that the blame for the houston, gus, mitch fiasco could probably be divided up among all of them. i, for one, am glad they’re all gone.

    and gatorprof- arkansas just announced a few months ago their plans to upgrade the facilities. i could argue your other points but i don’t think i’d win- however i will say this, i don’t think there’s too much difference between ark and fl that would make the florida job an offer bobby couldn’t refuse. don’t underestimate the money in nw ark.

  38. Deb says: Dec 9, 2010 8:46 PM

    @blitz …

    Thanks :) That guy is nuts.

    Tony Dungy’s not going to be on the sidelines, either.

  39. Deb says: Dec 9, 2010 9:02 PM

    Well, I have now been corrected. Only in the NFL are coaches preparing for a championship run expected to focus on the game and barred from pursuing other employment. So apparently Gus is fairgame even as he plots the NC game offense.

    But I still feel his talents have been overshadowed this season by the considerable talents of his QB. And I don’t think Florida would want to take someone from Auburn while an investigation is ongoing. But anything is possible.
    On the other hand, if anyone should find irregularities at Auburn, I could definitely see the Tigers scapegoating Chizik and promoting Malzahn.

    Don’t think Gruden would be a good fit for a college team. Too many stories from his pro players about him lying to them and throwing them under the bus. A college coach has to nurture and influence young talent. Some diehard Florida fans have told me they’d be happy to have Strong, even over Mullen.

    @gatorprof …

    Riiight … UF is really character conscious. That’s why the team has had the highest number of arrests in the SEC under Meyer’s tenure. You make a convincing argument. LOL

  40. 1990tiger says: Dec 10, 2010 12:24 PM

    Looks like Malzahn is being considered for the Vandy HC job (along with Navy’s current HC).

  41. Deb says: Dec 10, 2010 1:26 PM

    @1990tiger …

    Do you think he’d want to take Vandy or hold out for a more prestigious coaching position? Vandy is the most prestigious educational institution in the SEC, but from a football perspective, I’d think he could do better if he waited. Just don’t think he could get Florida.

  42. 1990tiger says: Dec 10, 2010 1:49 PM

    Vandy did surprise me but the report I read indicated they might be willing to put his pay in the top half of SEC coaches (~$2.5M+/yr). That kind of money is hard to turn down (not that I have first hand experience) and the expectations at Vandy wouldn’t be as high as they would be at MSU, UF, etc.
    He might also be able to avoid the type of off-field troubles with football players that he would likely face at a larger school.

    I was thinking that he might backfill for Petrino or Mullen (Malzahn coached HS football in Arkansas and still seems to be able to recruit from there) should either of them bolt for Miami or UF but if Vandy is willing to pony up the $$, it might be a good choice for him.

  43. Deb says: Dec 10, 2010 6:11 PM

    @1990tiger …

    Apparently they’re offering big bucks. He shouldn’t have to worry about off-field issues, not only because it’s a smaller school, but because of the academic standards. Yeah … it would be hard to turn down that money in any economy but especially now. Don’t think Petrino will leave Arkansas, but Mullen might take the Florida job. But there seems to be bad blood between Auburn and MSU right now. Don’t know that they’d make an offer. Might be good for him to take Vandy while the getting and the money are good.

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