Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel and Pete Thamel, and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde discuss Dan Mullen’s firing at Florida, and debate which coaches would be good candidates to replace Mullen as the head of the Gators.
DAN WETZEL: Mullen's gone. So look, we've talked a ton of Dan Mullen. Bad recruiting, bad this, bad that. But mostly a terrific coach in the SEC. One bad year, he's gone. But it is a bad year. Question is, who's coming? Who can Scott Stricklin and the Gator boosters lure to come to Gainesville? Man when it's rolling, it feels like the best job in the country. When it isn't, it doesn't.
I don't know. To me, you're got so much talent surrounding you. There's just no reason to not have great players. Need to be more into recruiting, but this is a school that's got two different coaches, and they've got three national titles combined. But last three coaches were all fired. What are we hearing? Pete, you can start.
PETE THAMEL: Well, I think we have the most fascinating coaching carousel showdown that I can recall in the two decades of covering this. You have three consensus, no-argument top 10 jobs. You have a rapidly disintegrating pool, with Mel Tucker, James Franklin's kind of saying he's staying now, he said that to some booster club in like Altoona this week. You know, they-- Altoona, you know you're talking carousel when the Altoona booster club quote comes up. It's that and the beach house are the two things that always that always emerge.
If I had to, off the top of my head, do a Florida pool, it wouldn't be all that different than the other pools I would have to do. I would say they'd be interested in James Franklin. They'd be interested in Matt Campbell. They'd be interested in Luke Fickell. And then like Billy Napier levels on their B-list. Do they ponder a coordinator, and do they go with like a Brent Venables, who's kind of been unmovable all these years? Turned down interest from Auburn last year.
Do they go with-- Dan Lanning all of a sudden maybe comes into play. There are going to be names in this carousel that we never thought of that are going to end up being hot. Dave Clawson, Pat Narduzzi, even Jeff Hafley could end up on some B-lists because of his NFL background, and the Ohio State piece. There are far more high profile, when you throw in Washington. I mean, Washington has made the college football playoff. Miami has won a national title this generation. TCU has played for the Rose Bowl.
DAN WETZEL: Won it.
PETE THAMEL: Yeah, and Virginia Tech. Like these kids weren't born at that point, but Virginia Tech, in our lifetime here played for the national title. So that A-list is going to be hot, and timing is going to play such a role in this.
PAT FORDE: Just kind of my thoughts on probability, that sort of thing. A couple of things to keep in mind. I think there are a lot of people outside of the Florida program, but with some interest in the Florida program i.e. boosters, donors, who love the idea of Lane Kiffin. Now how does Lane Kiffin go together with Scott Stricklin? Eh, little bit oil and water.
The other part of the equation there: the last two coaches, football coaches there, have been a little bit high maintenance pains in the ass. All right, Jim McElwain and Dan Mullen. Mullen is a great coach, but he was not the easiest guy for Scott Stricklin to work with at Mississippi State. I'm not sure that changed at all at Florida. So do you want a third guy in Lane Kiffin who can be a handful? Which Lane Kiffin, I think we're all pretty sure, would be a handful.
But lighting up offenses, recruiter extraordinaire. Would be able to come in and say, hey I'm in the mix for Arch Manning. You want you want to transfer his interest from Ole Miss maybe to Florida? So anyway, I'm not sure that's a fit. But I think there are people at Florida who are intrigued by Lane Kiffin. Mike Gundy talked to Florida in 2017. That was in Ross Dellinger's story on that coaching search. Mike Gundy right now is on fire, mostly because his defensive coordinator is on fire, Jim Knowles at Oklahoma State. But he is 10-1, and going to be playing for possibly a Big 12 championship and/or a college football playoff spot. Does he have renewed interest there?
I don't think Strickland would go after a Mark Stoops, because Mark Stoops is Mitch Barnhart's guy. Scott Stricklin owes a lot of his career to working under Mitch Barnhart, that would be a difficult one.
DAN WETZEL: No loyalty. No loyalty.
PAT FORDE: I mean eventually, that's the way it goes in the SEC, right? It's like--
DAN WETZEL: No loyalty.
PAT FORDE: --love you Mitch, but I got to come try to take your coach. I think Dave Clawson would be the perfect Scott Strickland match. I just don't know whether the boosters are like, yeah we want that guy. Especially if they've already got their eyes on Lane Kiffin. I don't think there's an easy solution, but there's a lot of candidates, and it's still a good job.
DAN WETZEL: I wonder if Bob Stoops would come back for that.
PAT FORDE: Yeah. You know, he enjoyed his time in Gainesville.
DAN WETZEL: Yeah, I don't know. Look, somebody's getting stuck with a coach that they don't, and nobody thinks is the guy they want. And that happens. And you also don't know. You know, like one of the most surprising coaching jobs this year is Shane Beamer. South Carolina.
PETE THAMEL: He's done a great job.
DAN WETZEL: He's done a good job, who knew? Right? Steve Sarkisian, total disaster. So you know, who the heck knows? Texas was very excited about their hire a year ago. They're demonstrably worse than if they had not fired their coach. Someone is going to fire-- some of these guys are going to wish they'd go back to the old coach.