‘This the season for everyone to be an expert sports prognosticator. Some Gator fans are happy to see Will Muschamp leave, but I am sad to see him go. I wanted him to succeed. Urban Meyer was a home run hire for Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley, but his hiring of Ron Zook before that was well short of a home run. Given the state of Gator football, Foley will be pressured to make another home run hire in the midst of a dry market. Most of the up and coming coaches are gainfully employed, unlike 2004 when there was a plethora of underemployed coaches. Muschamp was an up an comer back in 2010, but he was being set up for success at Texas with an entire coaching staff and recruiting base. He may have grown up in Gainesville, but he lacked skill in recruiting the area for offensive talent as well as a consistent coaching staff to sustain Florida atop the SEC.
The next Gator coach will need to deliver an explosive offense, recruit better, maintain good order and discipline, have NFL or Power 5 head coaching experience, and know how to build winning programs. The top candidates are listed below:
Chip Kelly (Philadelphia Eagles)
Current salary: $6.5M through 2018.
Cost for Florida: unknown buyout and at least $6.5M per year.
Charlie Strong (HC Texas, various positions at Florida 1985-2009)
Current salary: $5M per year until 2019, plus $5M buyout to Louisville in 2014, with $100k escalation of base contract each year.
Cost for Florida: UF would need to buyout all the coaches that remain with Texas, up to$3.5M and pay him at least $5M per year (and another $3.5M for the coaching staff). This is plausible.
Steve Spurrier (South Carolina)
Current salary: $4M through 2018
Cost for Florida: n/a
Key assistants: DC Lorenzo Ward, Co-OC Steve Spurrier Jr, Co-OC G.A. MangusNotes: Spurrier has stated that he is not interested in going back to Gainesville as head coach this close to retirement age.
Dan Mullen (Mississippi State, OC Florida 2005-2008)
Current salary: $2.9M for 4 years (through 2018) plus incentives from the boosters that push him to $3M.
Cost for Florida: No buyout other than one-time $3M to the MSU athletic association to offset booster donations.$3.5M – $5M.
Key assistants: Co-OC Billy Gonzales (UF WR coach 2005-2008), AHC/ Co-OC John Hevesy (UF TE coach 2005-2008)
Rich Rodriguez (HC Arizona)
Current salary: $1.5M per year until 2018
Cost for Florida: Buyout of only $500k and a salary anywhere between $2M – $4M.
Doc Holliday (UF AHC, Co-DC, S 2005-2010, HC Marshall)
Current salary: $600k with up to $425k in incentives through 2016.
Cost for Florida: $2M buyout,$2M – $4M.
Key assistants: Chuck Heater (former UF assistant), Bill Legg
Bonus points: coached All American Reggie Nelson
Mark Stoops (HC Kentucky)
Current salary: $3.6M through 2019.
Cost for Florida: No buyout, over $4M per year salary.
Jim McElwain (HC Colorado State)
Current salary: $1.5M through 2018
Cost for Florida: $7.5Mbuyout plus $3M – $4M per year
Notes: 20–15 (12–9), but as Alabama OC he was responsible for taking out Florida as the dominant SEC program. He can also recruit the state of Florida. He recruited Clinton Ha-ha Dix out of Orlando Dr. Philips (a potential Gator hotbed of talent). He recruited Dee Philips of Orlando Dr. Philips at Bama and has him now at Colorado State. He seemed to have an impact in recruiting Trent Richardson out of Pensacola, Florida as well (the same high school as Emmitt Smith).
Mike Gundy (OC Oklahoma State)
Current salary: $3.75M through 2019
Cost for Florida: remainder of $4.8M retirement fund,$3M buyout. $4M to $5M.
Notes: Unlikely hire due to him being alumni of current job, inherent job security with the built-in retirement plan, and lack of familiarity with SEC recruiting.
Mike Shanahan (Florida OC 1980-1983, former Washington Redskins HC)
Current salary: $7M buyout until December 2014
Cost for Florida: $6M +Notes: Might be an interesting CEO head coach if he can bring Kyle Shanahan with him as OC and head coach in waiting.
Marc Trestman (Chicago Bears)
Current salary: $4.25M
Cost for Florida: $5M.
Mark Hudspeth (HC University of Louisiana Lafayette)
Current salary : $1.075M through 2020Cost for Florida: $6M buyout,$2M
Kerwin Bell (Florida QB 1983-1987, Jacksonville University)
Current Salary : unknown
Cost for Florida: $2M
Notes: Jacksonville’s football program has been removed from playoff contention due to financial issues and could possibly be investigated for fraud. Bell is off the list for now.
Josh McDaniel (OC New England Patriots, HC Denver Broncos)
Greg Schiano (HC Tampa Bay Buccaneers, HC Rutgers)
Jim Schwartz (DC Buffalo Bills, HC Detroit Lions)