Dan Mullen: Who Is He and Why Would Florida Want Him to Replace Urban Meyer?

Joe YanarellaCorrespondent IDecember 8, 2010

Dan Mullen: Who Is He and Why Would Florida Want Him to Replace Urban Meyer?

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    STARKVILLE, MS - OCTOBER 24:  Quarterback Tim Tebow # 15 of the Florida Gators and Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen greet one another following the game, at Davis Wade Stadium on  October 24, 2009 in Starkville, Mississippi  (Photo by Rick
    Rick Dole/Getty Images

    Dan Mullen has emerged as one of the hottest names as a potential replacement for Urban Meyer as University of Florida football coach after Meyer's unexpected resignation Wednesday after six years as Gators coach.

    At a national powerhouse like Florida, the expectation would be that a major name would top the list of candidates, but everyone from Starkville—where Mullen currently serves as the coach at Mississippi State University—to all other SEC outposts is abuzz that he may be the most logical candidate to lead the Gators for the next decade.

    But who is Dan Mullen and why are the Gators so interested?

Just Exactly Who Is Dan Mullen?

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    GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 16:  Coach Dan Mullen of the Mississippi State Bulldogs directs play against the Florida Gators  October 16, 2010 Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Mullen's relationship with Urban Meyer dates back to Utah, where Meyer served as head coach and Mullen worked as his offensive coordinator.

    Mullen was instrumental in the development of quarterback Alex Smith as the No. 1 overall draft pick in the 2005 NFL Draft.

    The Utes posted an undefeated season in 2004 and served as Meyer's springboard to Florida, where he took over as head coach in 2005. Mullen guided the Utes in their bowl game after Meyer's departure before following Urban to Florida, where he again served as his offensive coordinator.

He's a Quarterback Guru

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    NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 01:  Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Florida Gators throws a pass against the Cincinnati Bearcats during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Louisana Superdome on January 1, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty I
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Mullen has earned the reputation as an offensive genius and quarterback guru who can both mold talent and get players NFL-ready.

    In addition to working with Alex Smith at Utah and Tim Tebow at Florida, he also spent time molding Josh Harris at Bowling Green and Chris Leak at Florida.

    At a school like Florida, where you have your pick of the top QB recruits in the country, the credibility of having someone who is both offensive-minded and can make players NFL draftable is crucial.

Would He Leave Mississippi State?

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    STARKVILLE, MS - OCTOBER 24:  Head coach Dan Mullen of the Mississippi State Bulldogs, during pre game warm up against the Florida Gators, at Davis Wade Stadium on  October 24, 2009 in Starkville, Mississippi  (Photo by Rick Dole/Getty Images)
    Rick Dole/Getty Images

    Mullen has quickly earned both the respect of the SEC and the Mississippi State football community by helping to turn a moribund program around, taking a team that went 4-8 to a 5-7 record in 2009 and an 8-4 record this season, which featured hard-fought three-point losses to undefeated Auburn, Florida and a double-OT heartbreaker to Arkansas.

    Mullen has also turned around recruiting at Mississippi State, assembling consecutive classes ranked among the nation's 25 best.

    After all that success, would he consider leaving Starkville so soon? He'd be hard pressed to resist the allure of major programs, including the University of Miami and now Florida, who will both be competing for his services.

Will Dan Mullen Be Florida's Next Head Coach?

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    TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 13: Coach Dan Mullen of the Mississippi State Bulldogs directs play against the Alabama Crimson Tide November 13, 2010 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    How often does a coach get an opportunity to:

    1) Join a perennial Top 10 program that recruits are dying to attend.

    2) Get to coach in the best conference in college football.

    3) Get to return to a setting that is both familiar and comfortable for him.

    It all seems fairly logical that Mullen makes sense both for Florida and for Mullen. Look for Dan Mullen to be the next coach of the Florida Gators.