Question of the day: Who should be and who will be the next Florida football coach?
Writers from around the Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Please check back throughout the day for more responses, and feel free to leave a comment of your own.
Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times
Urban Meyer has resigned, and Florida is looking for a new football coach. Doesn't Meyer do this every year around Christmas? Assuming this Meyer resignation sticks, expect a top, top coach to take over. Remember, Meyer turned down Notre Dame to take the Florida job. My guess is, former Meyer right-hand man Dan Mullen, now at Mississippi State, will get the job. (Although, Mullen insisted Wednesday afternoon he was "absolutely" committed to Mississippi State.) As difficult as leaving beautiful Starkville would be ... never mind. There are a lot of good candidates out there who would make a fine Florida coach: Arkansas Coach Bobby Petrino, Bob Stoops of Oklahoma (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 the coach whose hiring would make for the most seamless transition. If not Mullen, then put me down for "someone else."
[Updated at 11:16 a.m.
Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune
Family. I think you’ll hear that word a lot while Florida hunts for Urban Meyer’s replacement.
Dan Mullen comes from Meyer’s family tree. So does Charlie Strong. Either would be terrific in Gainesville, but Mullen says he’s “absolutely" committed to Mississippi State, where he is the lowest-paid coach in the SEC, at $1.2 million (see note below). And Strong might feel loyalty to Louisville, which hired him after so many other programs foolishly passed.
So the sense here is, the Gators will look outside the program’s walls. I hope they pass on Bobby Petrino, a brilliant offensive mind but a mercenary who’s only loyal to his pocketbook.
I’d like to see Chris Petersen get a shot. Short of massaging kicker Kyle Brotzman’s right leg before his ill-fated kicks at Nevada, Petersen has done everything possible at Boise State. Give the guy a chance to work with some of the nation’s top talent.
Note: Vanderbilt probably paid head Coach Robbie Caldwell less, but Caldwell was fired after the season. Vandy, as a private school, does not disclose salary info.]
[Updated at 11:54 a.m.
Andrew Carter, Orlando Sentinel
It’s the same answer for both questions –- at least it should be. Dan Mullen, who was 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 historically mediocre Bulldogs a contender in the Southeastern Conference. It’s also become clear that Mullen, the Gators’ offensive coordinator from 2005-08, was one of the primary reasons why Florida’s offense excelled early in the Meyer era. Since Mullen left, the Gators’ offense has declined.
There are other “name” coaches who might be more attractive to fans -– Bob Stoops, for one -– but at 38 years old, Mullen is still on the rise. He understands the recruiting landscape and also knows what it takes to be successful at Florida.]
Photo: Florida Coach Urban Meyer leads his team onto the field in 2007. Credit: Ed Reinke / Associated Press