Dec. 26, 2009.
The news hit the college football world like a hurricane.
Urban Meyer, Florida's successful head coach, stepped down at 45 years old amid concerns about his health.
Soon after this was announced, many articles here on Bleacher Report have come up talking about possible replacements for Meyer.
I doubt that Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley will make the "Ron Zook mistake" again by hiring a first-time head coach, so forget about seeing Charlie Strong and Will Muschamp on this slideshow.
I also think that Foley will look for a coach from the college ranks, so you won't find Jon Gruden and Mike Shanahan on here anywhere either.
So, from a Florida fan's perspective, these are three candidates that I think would be the best fits for Florida (in no particular order).
One of the main knocks on Florida's program is it has yet to have an undefeated season in the modern era; 1912's 6-0 Florida team doesn't count.
Boise State coach Chris Petersen knows a thing or two about undefeated seasons—he just coached the Broncos to their third undefeated regular season in four years. Not to mention he was an assistant coach on the 2004 Boise State team that also had an undefeated regular season.
I know some of you will say "Boise State is undefeated because they play in the WAC."
Well, remember, Petersen's teams have also beaten powerhouses such as Oregon (twice) and, of course, Oklahoma, in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.
Not to mention, the man looks good in orange and blue.
If you have any more doubts, just look at his career record: 48-4 with an undefeated season in 2006 and two BCS bowls.
Petersen is a rising star in the head coaching ranks, and although he may be the toughest coach on this list to get, it's still worth it to go after him.
Young head coach from Utah...where have we heard this before?
In five years at Utah, Kyle Whittingham has posted a 47-17 record, including an undefeated season in 2008.
The Whittingham era at Utah started slowly, with back-to-back 7-5 seasons in 2005 and 2006, but since then it has taken off.
Whittingham also knows a little something about going undefeated, with a 13-0 record in 2008 that included a 31-17 rout of Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
Whittingham was the defensive coordinator for the Utes from 1995 to 2004, including Meyer's 12-0 team in '04 that won the Fiesta Bowl. Having a defensive mind like him would help the Gators in the post-Charlie Strong era.
While I have a hard time picturing Kyle Whittingham in Gators attire, it is in Jeremy Foley's best interest to go back to the well at Utah.
I know, I know—Dan Mullen is still a bit unproven.
However, he is still loved by many in the Gator Nation, and even though he has only been a head coach for one year, this would be a great hire.
For one, he took a Mississippi State team that was supposed to be horrible this year and led them to a 5-7 record. 5-7 may not look impressive, but Mullen had them hanging tough with the likes of the Gators, LSU, Alabama, and Georgia Tech, and his team destroyed Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl.
Mullen was Florida's offensive coordinator from 2005 to 2008, and, under him, the Gators boasted some of the best offenses in the country.
When you think about it, this is the perfect fit. Mullen has ties to Florida, runs the same offense that Meyer did, and knows most of the players on the team.
While Mullen would likely have to change around his offense to better fit John Brantley's skills, I have no doubt the Florida offense could return to its former glory with him at the helm.
Mullen said last night that he was not interested in the Florida job, but c'mon. Coaches say that all the time. You had better believe that Foley will go after him, and hard.
What are your thoughts on the candidates I mentioned? Who would you add to the list? Leave some comments and let me know what you think.