Urban Meyer's Departure Shocks Gator Nation: What's Next for Florida?

JC De La TorreAnalyst IIIDecember 26, 2009

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 5:  Head coach Urban Meyer of the Florida Gators looks on against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the SEC Championship game at Georgia Dome on December 5, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The King Gator has left the building—cue the cheers throughout the rest of the nation. Urban Meyer's decision to resign from the University of Florida due to health concerns has left a large vacancy in the college football landscape.

As Gator Nation looked to recover from the end of St. Timothy's reign as Florida's man under center and the devastating loss to Alabama that ended dreams of back-to-back National Championships—now this.

Who wants to follow the Urban Legend?

Certainly former Florida defensive coordinator and current Oklahoma Sooners head man Bob Stoops' name will come up. Stoops has strong Florida ties but has resisted previous opportunities to come to Gainesville.

With Oklahoma on the downturn and Stoops getting a reputation for "not winning the big ones", could the luster of the Sooner gig be dimming enough for Bob to make the jump?

If Bob doesn't want to go, there's always his brother Mike, who's done an outstanding job turning around Arizona's football program.

Stanford's Jim Harbaugh has been the hot name on the college coaching front, getting mentioned for openings in South Bend and points elsewhere.

Both Mike Stoops and Harbaugh were recently granted contract extensions at their respective schools.

TCU's Gary Patterson could be a great candidate to succeed Meyer. He's brought the Horned Frogs to a BCS buster status, putting together a Meyer-esque 85-27 record. Patterson recently turned down an offer from Minnesota and proclaimed he would remain at TCU...but Minnesota is a world away from the University of Florida.

From Urban's old conference, the WAC, is Chris Petersen of Boise State. The Broncos have been unbelievable under Petersen's leadership, posting a 48-4 record under his tenure and making it to two BCS bowls.

Petersen recently signed a new contract with Boise State, paying him an Idaho record $850,000 per year. It's safe to say Petersen can do a little better in Gainesville.

Bottom line is Florida will need a football coach who is willing to follow a man who guided the Gators to their highest heights in the school's history. It's difficult to be in the shadow of a guy with two National Championships on his resume. 

Certainly, Florida has to make the correct choice quickly as this year's recruiting class and all the fantastic foundation that Meyer built is hanging in the balance.