Candidates to Replace Urban Meyer as Head Coach at Florida: Mullen, Strong,
With Urban Meyer announcing his surprise resignation from Florida, one of the prime coaching jobs in college football becomes available. Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley will join Miami athletic director Kirby Holcutt chasing after some of the top coaches in football to see who will take over their programs. Here is a list of some of the top coaches in college football who may be considered for the position:
Dan Mullen, Head Coach, Mississippi State: Mullen was Meyer’s offensive coordinator at Bowling Green, Utah, and then followed him to Florida where they had tremendous success. Unlike other assistants who fail in head coaching jobs, Dan Mullen went 5-7 in his debut at Mississippi State and then led them to an 8-4 season this year, their best in a decade. Miami is also said to be targeting Mullen who stands to get a big pay raise.
Charlie Strong, Head Coach, Louisville: Was Urban Meyer’s defensive coordinator his entire time at Florida until this past season. Strong was actually on Ron Zook’s staff and retained by Meyer, so he has slightly less ties to Urban than Mullen. Left for Louisville and improved their record from 4-8 under Steve Kragthorpe last year to 6-6 in his head coaching debut. May need more seasoning before leading a huge program like Florida.
Bob Stoops, Head Coach, Oklahoma: When Urban Meyer stepped down for a brief period last year, Stoops was one of the first names mentioned. A former defensive coordinator at Florida under Steve Spurrier, Stoops has been extraordinarily successful at Oklahoma. He’s won a national title and reached seven BCS bowl games. He would be my first call, but he’s been at Oklahoma since 1999 and is not likely to leave.
Bobby Petrino, Head Coach, Arkansas: Never met a coaching offer he didn’t like. Petrino returned to Louisville after a stint as offensive coordinator with the Jacksonville Jaguars and turned the Cardinals into an offensive juggernaut. After leaving Louisville for the Atlanta Falcons, he tucked tail and ran to Arkansas which came calling after firing Houston Nutt. Petrino has led the Hogs to a BCS bowl and has proven himself as an outstanding coach. Florida will probably want a coach whom they figure will stay at the school longer than the unpredictable Petrino would.
Other potential candidates based purely on record of recent college success:
Jim Harbaugh, Head Coach, Stanford: He may not have strong ties in Florida (did some recruiting there while helping his father at Western Kentucky), but Harbaugh’s success at USD and now Stanford makes him a must-have for any athletic director. How could you not inquire about a coach who Led Stanford to an 11-1 season and a BCS bowl game?
Chris Petersen, Head Coach, Boise State: He’s rebuffed all overtures thus far and does not seem eager to leave an excellent position in Boise. The Broncos are 60-5 and 38-2 in conference under Petersen. He’s built a powerhouse and is moving to the Mountain West next year. He’s not leaving, but he’s worth a phone call.
Gary Patterson, Head Coach, TCU: He’s been the head coach of the Horned Frogs since 2001 and has won at least 10 games in a season seven out of 10 times. Last year’s coach of the year has his team moving to the Big East where they’ll receive an automatic BCS bid. Doesn’t seem eager to leave TCU where he’s carved out a niche as a big-time coach winning 12 games in back-to-back seasons.
Kyle Whittingham, Head Coach, Utah: Urban Meyer’s defensive coordinator at Utah, he became Meyer’s replacement for the Utes in 2005 after Urb left for Florida. Utah had a breakthrough going 13-0 in 2008 and they’ve won 10 games in each year since. His coaching stock has dropped off somewhat but he could still be a sleeper candidate.
Other names to watch: Tommy Tuberville, Mike Leach