Dan Mullen’s phone is ringing right now.
I’m sure it was even before members of Florida’s football hierarchy had yet to fully exhale following Urban Meyer’s decision to step down Wednesday.
Perhaps athletic director Jeremy Foley never bothered to take Mullen off his speed dial. If that’s the case, he certainly didn’t after Meyer pulled his flip-flopping act last December, and he’s definitely not going to now.
There are so many reasons why Mullen would fit like a glove at Florida. He knows the administration, the program, a good-sized chunk of the players and the schemes. Though only eight years his junior, Mullen is somewhat of a disciple of Meyer, having followed his former boss from South Bend to Florida, with stops at Bowling Green and Utah in between.
Mullen knows the conference and damn well knows how to recruit the South, which isn’t just SEC breeding ground, but a recruiting spring from which many major programs extract talent.
So, then why does it seem like Mullen would be set up for failure as the Gators’ new head coach?
To expect any candidate, even one of Mullen’s qualifications, to duplicate the success of Meyer would be acutely unfair. In just two short seasons, Meyer took Florida from being an occasional threat in the SEC to the nation’s premiere program.
Will Meyer’s replacement be expected to pick up where he left off, which, in this case, shouldn’t be the 7-5 egg the Gators laid this season?
Maybe the expectations will be another pair of BCS titles, however unfair that may be.
Not that Meyer is the end-all, be-all of football at Florida, but he gave the program its best run in history. And he built the foundation by wielding a big stick on the recruiting trail. What are high school seniors to think now that sweeping change has crept over the horizon?
After the Outback Bowl against Penn State on Jan. 1, Meyer will be officially gone. From there, Florida will take its time evaluating candidates in and out, frontwards and back, though everyone involved already knows the end result.
Mullen will likely be their man, and he’ll be selected to succeed his good friend and former teacher.
Not to mention a coach that happened to set the bar too high.