Urban Meyer Replacement: Who Are Florida Gators' Top Coaching Candidates?

D. PritchardContributor IDecember 9, 2010

Bobby Stoops has turned down UF twice in the past.
Bobby Stoops has turned down UF twice in the past.Doug Benc/Getty Images

So now the real game begins—the speculation game, the guessing game. The blogs will no doubt light up from now until an official hire has been made.

There will be names that will make you laugh and names that you’ve never heard of before. All of a sudden, everyone is an Athletic Director, and everyone has their guy.

There are a few names that make sense and stand out above the rest. Below is a list of names that you will hear a lot of speculation about and some reasons why they do or do not make sense.


Bobby Stoops

Stoops has been offered the job twice already and has turned it down twice. He was the first candidate when Steve Spurrier left and the first candidate when Ron Zook was fired. A lot of people want to bring Bob Stoops back to Gainesville, but you have to think the Stoops' ship has sailed.

The fact that his name continues to come up over an eight-year span shows Stoops is still a hot commodity, and Florida might be the only school in the country that could lure Stoops away from Oklahoma.

The one thing Florida could have in its favor this time around is that Stoops has been in Oklahoma since 1999, and in this modern age of college football, anything beyond 10 years is impressive. However, one has to believe that he has no interest in leaving Oklahoma, as he has said numerous times.

Odds: 15-1


Bobby Petrino

Petrino would bring a high-powered offense to Gainesville, and that alone sparks the interest of many Gator fans, especially after the 2010 offensive debacle.

He has proved he can win at numerous places with stops at Louisville and Arkansas, but he also proved that he is always looking for another job. He has been to the NFL and failed, so one has to think he has no desire to make that journey again.

One thing Florida might have in its favor is it’s a destination job. There are not many, if any jobs more attractive. With this in mind, Petrino might figure to be a nice choice. If he is hired, a healthy clause in the contract about potentially entertaining other offers would probably be necessary.

Odds: 6-1


Chris Petersen

Petersen has been extremely successful at Boise State. In fact, Petersen is 60-5 as a head coach. One concern with Petersen is seeing how his predecessor Dan Hawkins failed miserably at Colorado after all the success he enjoyed in Boise.

Petersen also seems to have more West Coast roots. He has no experience recruiting in Florida, and one would have to wonder how he would succeed in the SEC.

Odds: 15-1


Jim Harbaugh

Harbaugh has had terrific success at Stanford in a relatively short time. He burst onto the scene calling out Pete Carroll, only to upset USC in his first year as head coach. Three short years later, Stanford and USC have traded places in the Pac-10, and Stanford is currently sitting at No. 4 in the BCS.

Harbaugh also has a great coaching pedigree, but other schools may be of more interest to him—most notably his alma mater Michigan. Not knowing his appreciation for the SEC or Florida, it’s hard to gauge how he would view the Florida job. Most likely, Harbaugh holds out for the Michigan job.

Odds: 20-1


Dan Mullen

Mullen is going to be the obvious choice here. Having won two national championships at Florida as Urban Meyer’s offensive coordinator, Mullen understands the job. If the Gators look to continue with the same approach and change very little, Mullen is the man.

Mullen has created the mirror image of Florida at Mississippi State, which would suggest very little change from the status quo. Mullen would also retain some of the current staff at Florida, so the current players and recruits would most likely stay intact.

Mullen is probably the best choice here, but don't look for him to be the first choice. Jeremy Foley will probably shoot for the stars due to the success that Meyer has enjoyed and the current state of the program. In the end, Mullen could be the choice they were leaning to all along.

Odds: 5-1


Again, the speculation will only continue, the rumors will only intensify and everyone between Dade County and Nassau County will have an opinion and a list of their own. The main thing here is to enjoy the ride, Gator Nation.

Urban made the program significant again and established a program that anyone in the country would love to come to. You should be thankful for him that you are able to go out and pursue nearly anyone you wish to. Not a lot of programs can do that, maybe four or five in the entire country. Meyer is the reason for that.

Unfortunately for the next coach, he will have the same responsibility and the same heavy burden.