So it's official...again.
Forgive me for not cementing the thought in my head that Urban Meyer is no longer the head coach at Florida. Maybe I'll do the prudent thing and wait until tomorrow to decide whether it's real.
So, who's going to replace the big Gator?
It won't be Steve Addazio, that's for sure, and there's no one else on this coaching staff to turn to. Hey, maybe Tim Tebow is interested. Maybe a little player/coach action?
Anyways, here's who I see as the top five favorites for the best coaching job in sports right now, as well as five dark-horse candidates.
The former Gators defensive coordinator, Strong left for the head job at Louisville and improved the Cardinal's win total by two, which I guess counts as improvement.
Still, Strong is a defensive guy, something you know the Gators won't necessarily make their first priority, especially with the offense they put on the field this past year.
I'd give Strong about a 15% chance of landing the job.
Knowing Jeremy Foley, he'll at least get a look.
Stoops' name will inevitably be brought up every time the Gators job comes open because of his relationship with Foley.
Still, why would you leave a good thing like Oklahoma, especially when it's looking so down, and the Sooners are loooking so good.
Landry Jones is still around, and they'll always be one of the top recruiting spots. And with Nebraska leaving for greener pastures in the Big Ten, Oklahoma should have the shot at multiple league titles over the next three-to-five seasons.
I'd put Stoops' chance at getting the job at about 45%.
Petrino doesn't make sense for this specific offense, but I'm hearing whispers that Petrino is going to be a serious contender in this thing.
He apparently didn't get much of a shot the last time around, but was definitely a name who was on, and has been on Foley's short-list.
Petrino did wonders with Ryan Mallett at Arkansas this past year, so just imagine what he could do with John Brantley, who would no doubt be the happiest man east of the Mississippi if Petrino came to town.
I'd put Petrino's chances at about 65%.
Mullen has obviously made quite an impression on college football, if after two seasons at Mississippi State it looks like he already has his pick of coaching destinations: Miami or Gainesville.
While he might be a better fit as a Hurricane, it would no doubt be hard to keep him away from the Gators.
He ran the offense there until two years ago, and followed Meyer from Bowling Green and Utah. The past two years, and especially this season, he showed he has what it takes to hold the top job.
He would provide instant stability for a program who has had little over the past two seasons.
I'd put Mullen's chance at about 80%,
I know it's tough to imagine a coach leaving a team that he just finished getting to a national championship game, but that's how good this Florida job is.
Kelly is the ideal fit for Florida. He knows the offense, has one of the best offensive minds in football, and his style of play would tire the recklessness and lawlessness out of the Gators.
He probably won't be the top choice, but in a football world where Foley didn't have prior commitments to Stoops and Mullen, he looks like the best choice.
Still, I'd give Kelly a 50% chance of getting the job.
What were the two things that Shannon was best at during his time at Miami?
Number one was recruiting. He turned "the U" back into a legit spot for top talent.
Number two was keeping his boys out of trouble.
Aren't those two things that would be considered invaluable at Florida?
I know he just got fired, and normally you don't get fired and then go out and get a better job that the one you just got 86-ed from, but Shannon could probably do a lot more in Gainesville than he ever dreamed in Miami.
Sumlin has quietly put together a pretty good run at Houston and is one of the top young coaches in college football.
And if the Gators wanted to find someone new, he could be the top choice.
He's young and has tons of energy, something Meyer was obviously lacking in.
Still, he hasn't had much big game experience, which could sway Foley another direction.
Rich-Rod, on the surface doesn't look like the ideal candidate, but think about it for a few minutes. Let it sink in.
He IS the perfect candidate!
Rich-Rod has perfected the spread offense, first at West Virginia, and now at Michigan. And while his defense can't stop anybody, I'm sure Foley can find someone for that. Maybe bringing back Charlie Strong? Doubt he'll do it.
And it's not like he's endeared himself to Michigan fans or boosters.
If the Gators are really looking for the next Urban Meyer they might as well go back to the well, and tab the guy who replaced Meyer at Utah.
The Utes didn't miss a beat, posting another undefeated season four seasons after Meyer left.
And as bad as TCU pummeled the Utes this season, all things are looking up for Utah. They're joining the Pac-10 and should have no problem luring a coach to replace Whittingham.
He rocks the offense much like Meyer did, but also has a nose for defense.
He's one of the bright rising stars in college football, and will get his shot before long. The Gators would be wise to lock him up before he goes to another SEC school.
Petersen got a little look this time last year, but interestingly enough, it was his commitment to the Broncos and the city of Boise that kept him from emerging as a serious candidate.
This time around, Petersen is the best option if you're looking for a guy who has done nothing but win during his time. He's the only coach who can rival Meyer's record over the past five seasons.
And he knows a little something about offense too. Before he was the mastermind of the Broncos BCS efforts, he was in charge of the offense at Boise. He turned the Broncos from a jokester, trick-play offense into a serious collegiate powder-keg that it is today.
Petersen has always over-achieved in recruiting as well, so just imagine what he could do with Florida's recruiting base. Not to mention their budget.
He's also kept his team on a pretty short leash, which means he could be just the guy to reign in their lawlessness.