Urban Meyer: Who Will Be Next Coach At Florida?

Elliott Pohnl@@ElliottPohnl_BRFeatured ColumnistDecember 8, 2010

Urban Meyer: Who Will Be Next Coach At Florida?

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    Urban Meyer is planning to step down as head coach of the Florida Gators later today, according to a report by Gatorzone.com

    The report claims Meyer informed Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley of his plan to step down over the weekend.

    Final details were worked out Tuesday, after which Meyer met with his team to inform them of the decision.

    The 46 year-old is expected to be on the sidelines one final time in the Outback Bowl January 1 when Florida takes on Penn State.

    Assuming today's shocking news proves to be accurate, it will mark the second time in less than a year that Meyer has walked away from the Gators.

    Citing health reasons associated with stress from the job, he stepped down as head coach on December 27, 2009.

    He didn't stay away for long, returning to the team less than three months later.

    Meyer and Foley will reportedly hold a news conference at 6 PM Eastern Time Tuesday to announce his resignation.

    Now that the coaching vacancy has opened up in Gainesville, it's time to start speculating on who might be tabbed to fill Meyer's big shoes.

    Here's a look at 15 candidates to become the next head football coach at the University of Florida.

Honorable Mention: Brady Hoke, San Diego State

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    Hoke has worked his way up the coaching ladder and figures to get plenty of consideration for coaching vacancies around the country.

    He held a variety of assistant coaching jobs before becoming the head coach at Ball State, where he produced a 12-1 record in 2008.

    In his two seasons as head coach in San Diego, Hoke has completely turned around the Aztec program.

    San Diego State went 8-4 this season and earned a trip to a bowl game for the first time since 1998.

    Odds Hoke Goes to Gainesville: 45 to 1

No. 15: Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks

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    Stranger things have happened.

    Most people feel Carroll bolted to the NFL last year mainly because he knew what the NCAA had in store for USC.

    Even with the Seahawks in contention for the NFC West in Carroll's first year back in the NFL, his rah-rah personality is more suitable to coaching in the college ranks.

    Ultimately, it won't be easy to win in Seattle with huge issues on both sides of the ball.

    The high-profile nature of coaching the Florida Gators could tempt him to return to the college level.

    Odds Carroll Goes to Gainesville: 30 to 1

No. 14: Kyle Whittingham, Utah

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    Could Florida pilfer another head coach from Utah?

    Whittingham has done nothing but win since succeeding Meyer in Salt Lake City.

    A defensive-oriented coach, he figures to move up the coaching ranks in the near future.

    Odds Whittingham Goes to Gainesville: 20 to 1

No. 13: Randy Edsall, Connecticut

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    Like it or not, UConn has earned a trip to the BCS with head coach Randy Edsall working miracles.

    Edsall consistently gets the most out of his talent in Storrs and has a level-headed coaching style that seems to resonate with players.

    His name might also surface in NFL circles this winter, so he could pass on the chance to listen to what Florida has to say.

    Odds Edsall Goes to Gainesville: 15 to 1

No. 12: Jon Gruden, Longtime NFL Head Coach

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    Here we go again with the Jon Gruden talk.

    There's plenty of reasons the University of Miami wanted to hire Gruden, including his leadership ability and enthusiasm for the game of football.

    Those qualities would make him a natural fit in College Football.

    Ultimately, Gruden has shown no desire to become a head coach in the college ranks.

    With NFL jobs looming on the horizon, don't expect to see Chucky stomping the sidelines in the Swamp.

    Odds Gruden Will Go to Gainesville: 15 to 1

No. 11: Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern

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    Fitzgerald has an enthusiastic style that brings the best out of his players.

    Just imagine what he could do in a recruiting goldmine like Florida.

    The fiery young coach has shown the ability to upset ranked teams and runs a system similar to Florida's spread attack.

    It's surprising Fitzgerald has remained at his alma mater this long without moving on.

    Instead of looking to the Big 10, Florida might look to land a bigger name with a history in the SEC.

    Odds Fitzgerald Goes to Gainesville: 15-1

No. 10: Will Muschamp, Texas Defensive Coordinator

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    Muschamp gets paid crazy money in Texas, but he might be tired of waiting for Mack Brown to step down.

    Instead of being a head coach in waiting, he might be tempted to take the Florida job if the price was right.

    His history in the SEC as Auburn's defensive coordinator makes him an attractive candidate.

    Odds Muschamp Goes to Gainesville: 12 to 1

No. 9: Mike Bellotti, Former Oregon Head Coach

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    Mike Bellotti walked away from Oregon football to become the school's athletic director, only to resign and get involved in television.

    Even at the time of his resignation, Bellotti did not rule out coaching again.

    His experience and ability to mold great offenses makes him an attractive head coaching candidate.

    He might be more inclined to stay on the West Coast for his next job.

    Odds Bellotti Goes to Gainesville: 12 to 1

No. 8: Brent Venables, Oklahoma Defensive Coordinator

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    Venables is widely regarded as one of the best assistant coaches in College Football, and he is due to land a big-time job sometime soon.

    Although his lack of head coaching experience might scare away more established programs like Florida, there is no debating his ability to teach defense.

    Don't be surprised if he tries to hang around Oklahoma until Bob Stoops leaves.

    Odds Venables Goes to Gainesville: 12 to 1

No. 7: Chris Petersen, Boise State

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    Petersen doesn't get enough credit for what he has done at Boise State.

    Sure, the Broncos have assembled enough talent that most opponents don't stand a chance, but Petersen deserves credit for identifying players and bringing them to Boise.

    His aggressive philosophy is very similar to what Meyer brought to the table in Gainesville.

    Florida has the money to lure the accomplished coach to the SEC.

    Odds Petersen Goes to Gainesville: 8 to 1

No. 6: Gary Patterson, TCU

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    Patterson probably should stay with Big East-bound TCU if he wants to continue making appearances in the BCS.

    At the same time, Florida could give him more money and prestige than he would ever get by staying in Texas.

    Patterson has built his TCU teams on pure speed, something that certainly would translate to the SEC.

    Odd Patterson Goes to Gainesville: 5 to 1

No. 5: Charlie Strong, Louisville

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    A former co-defensive coordinator under Meyer, Strong did a fantastic job during his first season at Louisville.

    Although he has the Cardinal program expecting big things in the future, it will be difficult to win the the Big East with powerful TCU joining the conference.

    Cincinnati and Pittsburgh should bounce back, and South Florida always seems to have talent.

    Strong's best chances of winning might come at Florida.

    Don't be surprised if he gets an interview, but the Gators probably will look for an offensive coach to replace Meyer.

    Odds Strong Goes to Gainesville: 5 to 1

No. 4: Jim Harbaugh, Stanford

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    Harbaugh has absolutely no SEC ties and might be more inclined to see if the Michigan job becomes available.

    If he will listen, Florida would certainly be willing to talk to him about succeeding Meyer.

    Much like Pat Fitzgerald at Northwestern, Harbaugh has managed to produce a winner at an academic institution.

    With Andrew Luck headed to the NFL and several other key players out of eligibility, next year could be rough for Harbaugh if he stays put.

    Odds Harbaugh Goes to Gainesville: 5 to 1

No. 3: Gus Malzahn, Auburn Offensive Coordinator

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    Cam Newton has made Malzahn look like a genius as Auburn's offensive coordinator this season.

    No matter where he ends up, the 2010 Broyles Award winner figures to be a head coach somewhere in the college ranks next season.

    The Gators offense disappointed in 2010, making Malzahn a logical choice.

    Odds Malzahn Goes to Gainesville: 3 to 1

No. 2: Dana Holgorsen, Oklahoma State Offensive Coordinator

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    Holgorsen is rumored to have talked with Meyer in recent days.  What exactly they discussed remains a mystery.

    Although it appeared the former Houston Cougars' offensive coordinator would be in line for a lucrative position directing the Gators' offense, it now looks like he might be considered to become the next head coach.

    Holgorsen was a Broyles Award finalist in his first year at Oklahoma State and should land a head coaching job somewhere.

    Odds Holgorsen Goes to Gainesville: 3 to 1

No. 1: Dan Mullen, Mississippi State

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    Not surprisingly, Mullen appears to be at the top of the list for Florida.

    His work in Gainesville under Meyer led to a head coaching job at Mississippi State, where he has already helped repair a struggling program.

    Given the stratification of the SEC, Mullen probably realizes returning to his old stomping grounds would give him the best chance to win.

    Odds Mullen Will Go to Gainesville: 2 to 1