Florida 52, Eastern Kentucky 3: We’re going bowling

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It’s weird to say with such joy, but: the Florida Gators are going bowling.

On senior day in the Swamp, Florida crushed hapless Eastern Kentucky 52-3 to get their sixth win of the year. Without the Idaho game to bolster the record, Florida now sits at 6-4 for the year. Again, it’s kind of sad to be relieved to clinch bowl eligibility, but… I’m relieved.

Jeff Driskel actually threw for more yards than Treon Harris did, but by the time he came into the game, it was all over, courtesy of two Harris TD passes and a nifty run by Kelvin Taylor. Harris looked good for most of the game, hitting several deep balls and putting some nice touch on the intermediate routes that have to be perfect. He did under throw Quinton Dunbar on one deep ball, but Dunbar adjusted, caught it, broke a tackle and scored anyway.

Defensively, it was a joke. Eastern Kentucky got a long field goal off a 36 drive that started at their own 30; aside from that, the Gator defense was flawless. Eastern Kentucky never scored again, and didn’t even really threaten to. The Colonels were held to 142 yards of total offense. That’s a damned good last defensive performance by Will Muschamp’s group.

In any case, it was no surprise that Florida blew Eastern Kentucky out of the water in a fashion that was only slightly less convincing than what we did to Eastern Michigan. Then again, Florida did lose to Georgia Southern last year… But this is a much better team than the glorified hospital ward the Gators rolled out last year. And that gives us hope looking forward, both next year and more importantly for now, next week.

Florida State appears to be obscenely overrated. The Noles have struggled every week against even the worst of their opponents. Yet they find ways to win every week, kind of like Florida did in 2009. This is a decent FSU team, but decent is about equivalent to being about the fifth or sixth best team in the SEC. The Gators may not be world beaters, but I am convinced that they can beat FSU if they play their best game. Treon Harris is throwing the ball with some confidence, the running game is beginning to flourish and the defense is playing better football now than they were in September and October. And hey, this team has nothing to lose, while FSU has literally everything to lose. Just like in 2004.

There’s much more to come during the week about the big rivalry game. For now, let’s just enjoy the fact that we’ll be playing around Christmastime.

Top Five Candidates to Replace Will Muschamp

Here’s a look at our list of potential candidates to replace Will Muschamp so far.

“The Bone’s” list

My list: 20-16

My list: 15-11

My list: 10-6

And so we conclude our master list with my top five.

5) Art Briles

Current Job: Baylor Bears

Current age: 58

Overview: Art Briles has worked wonders with Baylor since a disastrous 8-16 start in Waco. Since 2010, he’s 42-17 as the Head Bear, and his teams play an exciting style of football that has me jumping at the bit to get him. Before he coached Baylor, he led the Houston Cougars for a few years, and led them to several seasons that were above their expectations. OK, so that’s not a ringing endorsement, but this was a Houston program that hadn’t won eight games in a year since 1990 until shortly after his arrival a decade ago. And his teams look good on the field, too.

Pros: His offenses are always outstanding and his QB’s are almost always wildly successful. Between RG3, Nick Florence and now Bryce Petty, Baylor has always been outstanding at pitching it around under Briles. All that talent we keep bringing in at the skill positions would finally be utilized in his machine like offense. He’s also done about all he can at a small private school like Baylor, where recruiting is limited because of the small size and strong religious affiliation. There’s no such ceiling at Florida. With the way he recruits, Briles could have his pick of players from the Sunshine State (and he’d still have ties to the state of Texas).

Cons: He’s a bit younger than Spurrier, but the age is a similar concern. Briles would be 59 years old by the time he’s hired- not exactly over the hill like Bobby Bowden at the end but too old to count on to stay at Florida for very long. The current Gator program is a mess; fixing it would take time even with the talent currently in place, and though I have no doubt he would do it just the way he did at Baylor, you’d have to wonder how long he’d stay and enjoy the glory years before retiring.

Chance he takes the job: 10%. Briles would have to be a little intrigued by the idea of recruiting at a place that basically recruits itself- SEC, facilities, state of Florida, 3 national championships in the past 20 years- but he’s set up his roots in the Lone Star State now. Luring him out would take a great pitch from Jeremy Foley. I think that ship has sailed.

Overall Grade: 95%. Again, though, there’s the age thing. He’s a great coach, but just like with Stoops, I believe Jeremy Foley missed his chance to hire him after 2010. Now he’s a Baylor man, and even if he does take the Florida job, he’s at the age where he could suddenly retire any day. Are we really willing to bring on the possibility of enjoying six years with Briles only to have to do this all over again then? I want a coach for sixteen years, not six.

4) Gus Malzahn

Current Job: Auburn Tigers

Current age: 49

Overview: Malzahn is another offensive mastermind (starting to feel a pattern here? You’re right!) with an impressive track record at multiple schools. He helped develop Cam Newton into a Heisman Trophy winner 2010, and guided the Tigers to a national championship. In their first year without him, the Tigers fell into a terrible depression in 2012, going 3-9 and firing head coach Gene Chizik. Malzahn immediately left Arkansas State (where he went 9-3) and returned to Auburn… and poof, they were a play away from a national championship. He worked wonders at Auburn, he can definitely work wonders at Florida.

Pros: Malzahn employs a hurry up, no huddle offense. You know, like the one Will Muschamp promised to run successfully but never really did? Yeah, that. Except Malzahn’s actually works. He specializes in mismatches, getting elusive players the ball in space, and he can turn almost anybody with speed into a dangerous player. See former Georgia defensive back Nick Marshall, who is now Auburn’s QB. He’s also proven to be an exceptional play caller. On top of that, he’s a master recruiter, which would translate into even more success on the recruiting trail at Florida. So, yeah. Lots of pros.

Cons: Hard to really find one. The only reason he’s not higher on my phone call list is because I don’t think he’ll leave Auburn for Florida- it’s a lateral move. If I had to nitpick to find a weakness, I’d say that his defenses are not always the best.

Chance he takes the job: 2% And that 2% is based on the assumption that Auburn suddenly gets nailed for some obscure violation committed under Tommy Tuberville and he’d have to pay the price. Really, that percentage should be lower, but I’m not doing fractions or percents of a percent. It’s worth the phone call, but Foley better have some other phone numbers in hand as he dials up Malzahn.

Overall Grade: 99%. Malzahn can make a national championship team out of nothing overnight. That’s not to say he’d automatically do it again at Florida, but the intrigue is enough that I’d take him in the snap of a finger.

3) Kevin Sumlin

Current job: Texas A&M

Current age: 50

Overview: Kevin Sumlin and Art Briles have quite a bit in common, working their way up through the ranks in the state of Texas to finally land a premiere job. Sumlin’s stock as a coach has taken a hit with the recent struggles of his Aggies. But he’d still be a phenomenal get for Florida if they could reel him in. The argument that Johnny Manziel made Kevin Sumlin is starting to look less foolish and more legitimate, but remember that he also developed Case Keenum at Houston. He’s no one trick pony, as he likes to say, and I recall that both “The Bone” and I had him as a potential candidate to replace Urban Meyer in 2010 (though he was way further down on my list than The Bone’s). But yes, he’d be a great hire- if Jeremy Foley could get him.

Pros: The Air Raid offense, when run correctly and with good enough players, is impossible to stop and very difficult to even slow down. Nobody knows it better than Sumlin, who really put himself on the map when Johnny Football rode it to a Heisman Trophy in 2012. This was after Houston’s Case Keenum was at the controls at Houston and guided the Cougars to a perfect regular season. If not for Southern Miss spoiling the part in the Conference USA Championship Game, the Cougars might have crashed the BCS party that year. Oh, and Sumlin can recruit pretty well, I’m told, which will work out both locally and in terms of importing talent from Texas. Anyway, Sumlin could be an instant success at Florida if the recruiting rankings over the last four years are even somewhat accurate.

Cons: The only knock against Sumlin that holds any water is his lack of building defenses. People say that it’s always been a problem at Texas A&M, but it goes back with him to Houston. The reason they lost to USM in the conference title game is that the defense surrendered 49 points. That can’t happen at Florida. But this can be fixed with a solid defensive coordinator.

Chance he takes the job: 6%. Pick a percentage between 5% and 10%. Texas A&M’s recent struggles could make him bolt, I suppose. But that’s really all I have to offer in terms of hope. He’s settled into the state of Texas, and as attractive a job as Florida may be, I don’t think he’s willing to leave A&M to rebuild another program.

Overall grade: 95%. Sumlin would build this Florida program into a runaway locomotive that not even Nick Saban would be able to stop. OK, so his team’s defensive struggles are a tad bit concerning. They’re not nearly concerning enough to stop me from wanting him as the next Gator coach to resurrect this crippled Gator program.

2) Bob Stoops

Current Job: Oklahoma Sooners

Current age: 54

Overview: Other than his three years as Florida’s defensive coordinator, Stoops appears to be a very enticing candidate. He’s a defensive minded coach, unlike the rest of the guys on this list, but he always surrounds himself with solid assistant coaches, including offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson (now at Indiana). Yes, Stoops is an Oklahoman now, and I really think Jeremy Foley missed a great shot to snatch him up after Urban resigned in 2010. But sometimes, second chances come around…

Pros: Stoops puts out winning teams year in and year out at the highest level of college football outside the SEC West. Bottom line. Other than in a few major bowl games, his teams have always proven to be elite. And even though he has a defensive background, his offenses are always dynamic. Whether it’s Sam Bradford, Landry Jones or Trevor Knight at the controls, the Oklahoma offense is always one to fear. Plus, he can recruit as well as anybody in the business. And he’s 12-3 against archival Oklahoma State.

Cons: Nothing really glaring, except that he has a history of losing big bowl games. But that’s a silly reason not to hire him. I was just trying hard to find something wrong with what I believe is a great fit. And unlike Muschamp, at least he can get to them.

Chance he takes the job: 35%. Stoops came really, really close to taking the Florida job following Steve Spurrier’s resignation. I never thought there would be a chance he’d take the job again after being spurned in 2010, but something I was just told leaves me to believe there’s a real chance now (more on that next week).

Overall Grade: 98%. Stoops would be a fantastic get for Florida. In terms of combining realistic options and dream options, Stoops is second in line behind only one. I’d be beyond thrilled if we got him.

1) Chip Kelly

Current job: Philadelphia Eagles

Current age: 50

Overview: Kelly is yet another offensive genius, and the one I’d like the most. The four years he spent as the head coach at Oregon were magical for Ducks fans, and I’d often catch myself impatiently awaiting the really late kickoff times the Ducks were relegated to as members of the Pac 10 (and later the Pac 12). Even before he became the head man, I loved watching his offense when he led them as the offensive coordinator under Mike Bellotti. The offense he runs is much more exciting than the Grunt N’ Punt employed by Muschamp, with the speedy guys he recruits getting the ball in space and making guys miss. It’s all about mismatches, and Kelly is a genius at exploiting them.

Pros: Uh, his teams can score points? I don’t think I need to get into the schematics of why Chip Kelly would be a great hire for Jeremy Foley. He’s the dream hire for the consensus- 65%- of Gator fans because of what his offenses can do. In addition to that, he doesn’t take any shit from anybody. His star running back, LeGarette Blount, punched a Boise State player who was mocking him, and Kelly immediately banned him for the season (though he would reinstate him for the Civil War at the end of the year). You misbehave, you get punished. So basically, Kelly is a combo of Muschamp’s discipline and Urban Meyer’s utilization of talent on offense. With pretty damned good recruiting abilities, I might add.

Cons: If by some miracle he does take the job, I’m not sure how long he’d stay. The only reason I can see him leaving Philly in the first place is that the Eagles do something to make him unhappy, and then he’d only come to Florida if no other pro job opened up. Four years was enough for him at Oregon. I’m thinking he’d be even less patient at Florida.

Chance he takes the job: 2%. And that’s being optimistic. He appears very happy in Philadelphia.

Overall grade: Since I’m not doing decimals, 100%. Chip Kelly would be the second coming of Jesus, a dream hire. There is nobody else I would rather have at the University of Florida than Kelly.

Florida Gators Coaching Candidates: 10-6

We’re halfway through the week, and we’re hallway through with the master list of who should be the next Gator coach. Or, should I say, who I believe would be the next Gator coach.

This is the stage of the list where you’ll start to see some of the guys Gator Nation has been clamoring for. Now, that doesn’t mean Florida will get these guys, or even call out to them (in fact, Jeremy Foley has even ruled out one of the guys you’ll see on this list). It’s just who I feel would be the best fit for Florida going forward.

Here’s a rundown of the official In All Kinds Of Weather list so far:

The Bone’s list.

My list: 20-16

My list: 15-11

So here’s numbers 10 through 6 on my list:

10) Steve Spurrier

Current Job: South Carolina Gamecocks

Current age: 69

Overview: C’mon, it’s Spurrier. Anybody reading this knows exactly who he is. And if you somehow don’t, he is a folk hero among Gator fans, bringing us our first national championship in 1996, which highlighted a magical 12 year run as our coach. He also won the Heisman as a Florida QB in 1966. So yeah, he’s Gainesville’s favorite son.

Pros: Spurrier runs an offense that can finally utilize the speedy playmakers that we continue to import from the sugarcane fields of south Florida. He is a wizard in the art of recruiting. He surrounds himself with great assistant coaches. There would be a brief rebuilding period of maybe a year or two and then the team would pick up where it left off when Spurrier stepped down after drubbing Maryland in the Orange Bowl. Also, he’d beat Georgia. Remember how that feels? Me neither. End of discussion. Spurrier is a fantastic fit for Florida.

Cons: One has to wonder how long Spurrier would stay. He’s going to be 70 by the time next season rolls around, and who’s to say he won’t decide he’s had enough after four short years? I really don’t want to have to go through this all over again for at least a decade. That should be your minimum intended span of a coach’s tenure.

Chances he takes the job: 20%. If Jeremy Foley would just… frigging… listen… to me… he has a chance to get Spurrier. The situation would have to handled very carefully. Here’s how the phone call would have to go. Foley says, “Screw the interview, the job’s yours. You want it?” An interview with Spurrier- arguably the greatest coach in Gator history already- would serve absolutely no purpose other than to further damage Spurrier’s trust level with Foley (no doubt Spurrier was pissed in 2004 when Foley passed over him). Anybody with a grain of common sense knows what he’s capable of doing as a head coach. Foley would need to throw away his ego and bow to Spurrier’s. And then I think there’s a chance.

Overall Grade: 90%. Four years ago, I’d be jumping for joy at the prospect of replacing Urban Meyer with Steve Spurrier. But now that the Head Ball Coach is approaching 70, I’m a bit more leery. He’d work wonders for Florida, and probably right away. And yet while I’d reach out to him before the 42 year old Mullen, I’d prefer a longer term solution if I could get it.

9) Hugh Freeze

Current Job: Ole Miss Rebels

Current age: 45

Overview: We probably first heard of Freeze from the Blind Side, when he coached Michael Oher at Briarcrest high school in Memphis. But since then, he’s built a solid name for himself as a college head coach (Lambuth, which is NAIA, Arkansas State and now Ole Miss). Like a lot of other young head coaches on this list, he has exceeded expectations wherever he’s been. Now he’s got Ole Miss at 8-2 in the ultra-competitive SEC West, and coached the Rebels to a huge upset win over Alabama earlier in the year. But at the same time, I’m not sure how much higher Freeze can take them. Tough losses to Auburn and LSU may be proof that he’s hit his ceiling.

Pros: Freeze very well may be the best recruiter in the country. You measure a coach’s recruiting skills by what he does with what he’s working with. Ole Miss is by no means a national powerhouse, and they weren’t very good when Freeze took over for Houston Nutt, but he immediately went to work recruiting and now the Rebels are pulling in top five classes every year; imagine how well he’d recruit in the state of Florida with UF to sell. On top of that, Freeze is an excellent coach, so he develops that talent and turns it into wins on the field. He is an above average schematic coach, and his players love him and want to win for him.

Cons: I can’t really find one. If I have to throw one out there, I guess it would be that he hasn’t ever coached at a place with really high expectations. But that’s a weak reason not to hire him, because neither did Spurrier, or Meyer.

Chance he takes the job: 10%. It’s worth the phone call, but he’s dug some deep roots in Oxford. The only reason he would leave would be if Foley offered him the world. Which he might do. But I’m still not sure that would do it. Sometimes, a coach just wants to stay at a school because he feels it’s right. That’s what I fear will happen if and when Foley makes the move at Freeze.

Overall Grade: 95%. I’d be doing cartwheels if he took the Florida job. Recruiting ability plus fertile recruiting grounds plus a great school to recruit for plus great coaching equals success. But I just don’t think he’s going to leave Ole Miss right now. That’s why he’s as low as he is.

8) Charlie Strong

Current job: Texas Longhorns

Current age: 54

Overview: If Steve Spurrier is Gainesville’s favorite son, Charlie Strong is next in line. Four stints at UF spanning a total of 14 years and his ability to recruit like few others have me jumping up and down at the mere thought of hiring him. But not hiring him after 2013 could prove to be the fatal blow in ever getting him to return to Gainesville. He took the Texas job instead after four successful years at Louisville.

Pros: Charlie is easily one of the game’s top recruiters. Strong getting to recruit the state of Florida… for the University of Florida… would almost be too easy. It’d be like a kid on a moon bounce for the first time, giggling at how much fun it is and never wanting to stop. Also on his resume: he’s spent a long time in the SEC, he can build defenses, he can hire great assistant coaches, he can coach on the field and he can instill discipline into his program. Yes, I’d love to have Strong.

Cons: Hard to find one with Strong. I guess if I had to nitpick, I’d say that his offense at Texas isn’t too great right now. But his offense at Louisville was with Teddy Bridgewater… yeah, I’d say there really aren’t any red flags with Strong.

Chances he takes the job: 15%. Oh, Jeremy Foley. If only you could have seen the problem with Will Muschamp a year ago like I did. But nope, you were too stubborn and stuck with what you wrongly believed to be a home run hire for another year. Your foolishness and inability to admit you made a mistake (and your subsequent failure to correct that mistake) cost us more than a decent season of promise in 2014; it also cost us the chance to land any of a bevy of great coaches, including our long time assistant Charlie Strong. I guess it’s possible he takes the job now, but being spurned by Foley can’t leave him with a good feeling with Florida. And I doubt he leaves Texas after one year.

Overall Grade: 95%. Foley owes him a huge apology for failing to even give the man an interview after Urban Meyer resigned in 2010. Strong would be an excellent hire. The only reason he’s as low on my call list as he is is because he’s a defensive mind, and both Florida fans and Jeremy Foley are seeking an offensive mind.

7) Dan Mullen

Current Job: Mississippi State Bulldogs

Current age: 42

Overview: Hey look, the second former Urban Meyer assistant in a row! Unfortunately, Jeremy Foley has said that he wouldn’t consider him, and that’s a shame. Luckily, people change their minds sometimes. Anyway, up until 2009, Dan Mullen was Urban Meyer’s right hand man at Florida. He was the guy that called the plays and ran the offense with Tim Tebow. Make no mistake; that was Mullen’s show, the way it was Addazio’s (awful) show in 2009 and 2010. Mullen has also proven he can be successful without Urban looking over his shoulder. He went to Starkville and built a worthless program into a national championship contender. Part of that is recruiting extremely well. And part of that is knowing the x’s and o’s of the offense he runs so, so well.

Pros: There are really no expectations at Mississippi State. All you really have to do to win over your AD and fan base is win ~7 games a year and beat Ole Miss. Check both of those off; Mullen is 4-1 in the Egg Bowl and has reached a bowl game in his last four seasons (and will again this year). Imagine, then, at a place like Florida, how successful he would be calling all the shots. He would clean up the state of Florida in recruiting, and Gator fans could just about always count on him to put out an exciting offense. He’s also got an extremely rare combination of positive traits working for him: he’s 42, and has already proven that he can be successful at the highest level.

Cons: His sometimes gruff personality suggests he might not get along with the boosters. But really now, if he wins games and turns raw talent on offense into results the way Muschamp never could, do we care in the least bit? He’d also cost a lot of money to hire… another thing that winning games would make irrelevant.

Chances he takes the job: 35%. I put it as just under 50/50 because of the fact that Jeremy Foley passed over him in 2010, and then decidedly more under 50/50 because of Foley’s public admission that he wasn’t looking for him. Mullen can be a spiteful man at times, and while I think he would certainly listen, his resentment would make him think twice. But let’s be real here; all the talk from Mississippi State fans about him “having roots” in the Magnolia State is bullshit. That’s just a delusional MSU fan base trying to tell themselves he’ll stay forever. The fact is, he’s going to leave at some point, and possibly very soon. It’s either Florida or Michigan this year for Mullen, or he waits another year and after 2015 is less successful, he will bolt. And again… Jeremy Foley has said that he wouldn’t be considered. But a change of heart could always be in the cards.

Overall grade: 90%. Mullen is not the perfect hire in my opinion, but he’s a great one nonetheless. As far as logical coaching hires go- guys that I think have a legitimate chance to take the job (should Foley change his mind and make the call)- he’s at the top of my list.

6) Jon Gruden

Current job: ESPN analyst

Current age: 51

Overview: Why not throw up a Hail Mary with Gruden? He hasn’t coached since 2008, and I just know he’s itching to get back out there. He was definitely a bit intrigued in 2010 when Urban Meyer stepped down, and though he seems to enjoy being an analyst on Monday Night Football, you can just get this feeling that he wants to coach again. A successful 12 year run in the NFL with the Raiders and Buccaneers, including a Super Bowl ring, is all I need to see on his resume to want him.

Pros: Gruden is among the top schematic brains in football, and he knows how to direct a high flying offense and develop quarterbacks as well as anybody out there. And with his name, combined with the school itself, he wouldn’t even need to recruit that hard. Can you imagine Jon Gruden as the head coach of the flagship university in the most talent rich state in the country? Good lord, the place would literally recruit itself. He had the best results in Tampa from 2002-2008. No doubt some of the kids he’d be recruiting for the first several years or so would remember him for the success he had with the Bucs, particularly considering how bad they are now.

Cons: Gruden has never been a college head coach before. In fact, he’s only spent three years as a paid assistant coach at the collegiate level. It might take some time for him to adjust to the whole recruiting thing, which is a big deal- even at a place like Florida, which recruits itself.

Chance he takes the job: 5%. There’s a chance, perhaps, but it would take some improvement on the horrible attitude Jeremy Foley has in terms of letting his ego get in the way of things, and the right pitch from Foley. And then I still wouldn’t bet on it.

Overall Grade: 94%. In terms of knowing the game and instilling discipline into his players, few even come close to Gruden. I’d take him in a heartbeat. It’s just a matter of getting him. And I don’t think Florida will.

Dante Fowler announces he will leave for the NFL

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Whatever else you have to say about him, Will Muschamp was dearly beloved by his players- and perhaps by nobody more than Dante Fowler.

Yes, this is his declaration for the NFL Draft. It’s no surprise, and he was out the door whether or not Muschamp came back, as we told you a few weeks ago, but it is rather touching that Fowler would announce it publicly like this. That’s some loyalty by Fowler right there, and it speaks volumes about Muschamp as a leader of men and role model to his players.

Fowler projects to be taken in the first round by most pundits, and I’d argue that he’s a top ten talent. He carries an explosiveness out of his stance that few other defensive linemen are blessed with, which puts him at about number two or three on the list of defensive ends I’d take in the draft. I could definitely see him having an immediate impact at the NFL level.

In any case, good luck, Dante. I wish you the best.

Will Muschamp reminded us why he was so well liked by those close to him

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Many did not know what to expect before Monday’s press conference. Dr. Bernie Machen approached the podium and delivered a speech that sounded more like Coach Muschamp was receiving a lifetime achievement award instead of what was his farewell press conference. AD Jeremy Foley promptly followed that with what sounded like an announcement that he had just fired his son. Those two made it quite easy to see the impact that Coach Will Muschamp has made to those around him.

Will eventually stepped up to the podium and did not sulk, did not throw blame on anyone, or anything. He had a piece of candy in his mouth and even cracked a half smile from time to time. He had just been fired from a job he had for 4 years at a school he loved, in the town he grew up in. He took it on the chin like a man and was as humble as any man could hope to be. He spoke about how he didn’t win enough games, but you could tell that what was important to him was the impact he made on the lives of the children he was responsible for. He was proud of the job he had done turning high school kids into men, whether it be in the classroom or molding their character into what men should be. The Florida football program on the field may have been worse than it was when Muschamp stepped on campus, but off the field there aren’t enough words I can use to describe how much better the program became.

What was labeled as a “broken program” after former head coach Urban Meyer left for his ESPN gig, and then Ohio State job, turned into what is now an accountable program with high GPA’s and a high graduation percentage. We know that Will was scorned for his offense and for his “stubborn ways” of coaching, but sometimes we all have to take a step back and realize the impact he has had on not only his team and assistant coaches, but the men and women that work in the University of Florida athletic offices. When I spoke to Gatorzone.com’s Scott Carter recently, he was glowing about how passionate everyone at UF was about Muschamp having success. He was kind to everyone. He loved his two sons Jackson and Whitt, his beautiful wife Carol, and most importantly he loved his job. Yes, we in the media have criticized him for some of his coaching decisions in the past, including his decision to stick with quarterback Jeff Driskel. But there was a lot more to Will Muschamp than X’s and O’s. It was about integrity, humility, and good character. I had the chance to meet Coach a few years back after he was first hired. He made me feel like I was important when I spoke to him. He didn’t have the ego of his predecessor.

But at the end of the day, the University of Florida had no choice but to move on in a different direction. Winning is what’s most important in the wild world of college sports, and he didn’t do enough of it to satisfy Jeremy Foley and the Florida fan base. Some things in life are permanent and others are just for a time, but both are meant to be. As a passionate Florida fan and former student, I take pride in my school’s success and I knew it had to make a change. But I will be forever grateful for the positive impact Coach Will Muschamp had on the University and this team. Coach Muschamp as a football coach made some bad choices (which even he admitted yesterday), but as a man and leader, we could only hope that our children have a coach and role model like Will Muschamp. Good luck and God Bless, Coach.

Gators coaching search – who should be included.

Yesterday, Neil Shulman began his list of candidates to replace Will Muschamp. I agree with some of them… but not all. So, I’ve made up my own list for diversity purposes.

I am not going to bother with the obvious names. Bob Stoops. Kevin Sumlin. John Gruden. Mike Leach. Chip Kelly. Art Briles. We have heard those names mentioned repeatedly. We know their credentials and you don’t need me to puke them back to you. Stoops makes the most sense and he might be ready for a move. Or, he might love Oklahoma. Who knows, but he should be Foley’s first call.

Be that as it may……

I also am not interested in rattling off Coordinators. While there are plenty of great OCs out there, this is more about people with head coaching experience. We have learned that Florida and OJT don’t work out, so I am sticking to head coaches.

Larry Fedora – The man knows offense. He has HC experience now. Most importantly, he is well familiar with how to navigate the waters at Florida in a pressure situation, having been Ron Zook’s OC. Sure, he is a bit weak on the defensive side of things, but he can hire a good DC to max our Florida’s talent. Gene Chizik is a Florida alum, currently out of work.

Dave Doeren – Young. Bright. An up and comer who has a future beyond NC State. Perhaps most importantly, the guy knows how to adapt; he made his name at Northern Illinois using Jordan Lynch who was a Tebow type player (read: giant fullback who can throw the ball) and now has Jacoby Brissett tearing it up as a pocket passer. Clearly he can adapt his scheme to the talent on hand. He is from a small school so there might not be an “dream job” hopping from him.

Mark Hudspeth – Young. No power alma mater. Winner. Everywhere he has been. Check his record. He wins . Period. One of the other advantages is he was Dan Mullen’s WR coach so he not only knows the SEC but he also has a varied skill set i terms of offensive experience he can deploy at Florida.

Sonny Dykes – What a lineage. Father was Spike Dykes, Texas Tech legend. Look at his track record as an OC. He ran Texas Tech’s O with Dana Holgorsen. He produced Gronk at Arizona. he has been at the helm of two programs grow. In all reality, he or Hudspeth would be my favorite choice simply because of the Air Raid and his youth, but given his lifelong ties to Texas Tech, I think he might be inclined to want a Texas job and might not be long for Florida. Unless Kingsbury starts tearing it up at Tech, Strong dominates at Texas and Patterson stays at TCU.

Matt Wells – Up and comer in the coaching ranks. I won’t spend too much time fawning over him simply because he is coaching Utah State, his alma mater. He may not be inclined to leave.

Matt Campbell – He might be the best possible get. Another small school guy who might not job hop as Florida would be a destination job for him. he also cut his coaching teeth in a great way; he learned under Gregg Brandon at Bowling Green. You may remember, Brandon was Urban Meyer’s right hand man and OC at Bowling Green which means he is well versed in an offensive philosophy we know will work at Florida.

Pete Lembo – Young. Successful. He is 44 years old with 13.5 years worth of head coaching experience and he has been successful every step of the way with gradual increases in success which tells the story that he is a builder, not just an inheritor. He too might not job hop as his alma mater is not a football school.

Gary Patterson – Winner. Period. His first two years in the Big 12 were a struggle, as he was still working with “lower rated” recruits. However, now that he is in his third year he has his team humming, currently ranked in the CFP with their only loss being a 3 point loss on the road to Baylor. One thing of note, TCU’s strength program is arguably the best in the country. It’s how he got his “lesser” players to play with the big boys. So, what happens when the top tier athletes get into his program ? Well, we are starting to see, aren’t we ?

Bronco Mendenhall – Why not ? He wins and he has managed to field some pretty competitive teams while facing some of the more restrictive conditions in FBS. Because of where he is, he would also be apt to run a “clean” program as well.

 

 

 

Torched by an Angel: Canes shock 8th ranked Gators in Gainesville

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It was just another typical day in the O’Dome. Florida was crushing an inferior opponent, and appeared to be very much on their way to their 34th consecutive home victory.

Then along came Angel Rodriguez, who exploded for 22 seconds half points. And in a flash, the seemingly comfortable 54-40 lead the Gators had built over Miami was gone- just like the Gators’ aura of invincibility at home.

You’re damned right that sounds familiar. The Gators made this a habit two years ago. Going up by double digits and then blowing it in the end was the trademark of the 2012-13 Florida team. Big leads against Arizona, Missouri, Kentucky and Mississippi wasted, and a disappointed locker room instead of the joyous one the players unanimously but prematurely expected to enter. Defensive collapses. Going cold and faltering down the stretch on offense. We’ve seen it all before, and it never fails to frustrate me to no end. Giving up 48 points in the second half isn’t going to win many games, bottom line.

Part of was just a good player getting really hot at the right time, granted. Kansas State transfer Angel Rodriguez simply couldn’t be stopped. He hit several key threes, some of which came with a defender right in his face, to pull Miami back into it… and for that you just have to shake his hand and say “good game”. Not every team is going to shoot 50% from three point range, including 70% in the second half. Rodriguez and the Hurricanes just couldn’t miss.

But Rodriguez also wouldn’t have won the game for the Canes without the help he got from Kasey Hill, who committed two incredibly foolish fouls that should have never been committed. On one, he fouled Rodriguez shooting an off balance three, and on the other, he fouled a dribbling Rodriguez 40 feet away from the hoop. Those are the fouls that Billy Donovan will not tolerate.

So combine all of that, and this one stings. Badly. Florida seems to be cursed against Miami in recent years, having lost in football last year and now in basketball at home, where the Gators never lose. We just can’t ever get that sweep of our two in-state rivals, something we haven’t done in basketball since 2005-06. So yes, I’m extremely irritated by the loss. I’m frustrated.

But at the same time, the consequences of losing this game are minimal. Florida was playing without Dorian Finney-Smith, Chris Walker and Alex Murphy. That’s two starters the Gators were missing, and the third- Murphy- will at the very least get some significant playing time. And go look at the Gators’ upcoming schedule: with the Battle 4 Atlantis (in which the Gators will play Georgetown, either UAB or Wisconsin, and either UNC/UCLA/Butler/Oklahoma), road trips to Kansas and Florida State, a rematch with UConn, and two games against Kentucky give Florida plenty of opportunities to bolster their resume.

The worst part about this loss is the simple irritation that comes with it. We don’t get to claim that we’re “state champions”. We cede some bragging rights to a team that we own 45-23, five Final Fours to none and two national championships to none. And none doesn’t even come close to describing Miami’s historical futility on the hardwood.

Of course, there’s a lot of work to do. But Billy Donovan has proven to be more than capable of getting his team to do that work in the past, and while this is far from his best team, even once we get Walker, Murphy and Finney-Smith back, I’m confident that he’ll turn this team into a much better one than the team we saw tonight.

I’ll leave you with this. Florida has now lost the second game of its season in four of the last five years. And as we all know, the Gators have gone to the Elite Eight in each of the last four seasons. That’s how much this game matters in the long run.

Florida Gators Head Coaching Candidates: 15-11

Earlier today, I revealed the beginning of my list of coaches I would like to replace Muschamp. Here are numbers 15 through 11. And keep in mind that these are guys I think would be the best fit, not necessarily who Foley is going after.

15) Gary Patterson

Current job: TCU Horned Frogs

Current age: 54

Overview: Patterson has been wildly successful at TCU regardless of what conference they’ve played in. He did share a 4-8 record with Will Muschamp last year, but this year he has TCU squarely in the race for the national championship. He’s defensive minded coach, which isn’t going to sit great among Gator fans initially, but that defense has his Horned Frogs atop the Big 12 conference right now.

Pros: He’s been at TCU for 15 years. If he comes to Florida, we can rest assured that he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. He’s also relatively young, so that helps even more. And his long tenure at TCU has shown that he is good at selecting assistant coaches. Finally, recruiting would be a snap for him. With all the religious restrictions TCU has on recruiting football players, he does a fantastic job pulling in top classes. That’s not to say he won’t continue to be a heavy disciplinarian like Muschamp, but it’s just easier to recruit at Florida than it is at TCU by several light years. Oh, and his overall win loss record at TCU will make you giggle with glee if we can can get him (129-45).

Cons: There’s only one, but it jumps out at you- he has no SEC experience. None. And that is a serious problem, even though Urban Meyer didn’t either. But Meyer countered that with a new type of explosive offense that nobody had seen before. Patterson doesn’t have any tricks up his sleeve. He’s just a good football coach with good defenses. That may work in the SEC, and it may not. The question mark is certainly cause for a second thought before making an offer.

Chance he takes the job: 47%. I really have no idea if Patterson would take the job. He keeps his lip buttoned about this kind of thing. That said, if he were to leave TCU, I think Florida would be the type of program he’d leave for. Prestigious, high profile, and easy to recruit.

Overall Grade: 85%. Patterson would be a fine hire on the surface. Are there questions about how he would do in the SEC? Absolutely. But given his gaudy track record of winning games at TCU, including in the Big 12, you wouldn’t get a word of complaint out of me if he was the next hire.

14) Kliff Kingsbury

Current job: Texas Tech Red Raiders

Current age: 35

Overview: What we have in Kingsbury is an extremely young, extremely sharp offensive mind. He is Kevin Sumlin’s star pupil, his top disciple. He was he one who called the shots for Case Keenum, and for Johnny Manziel in 2012. He also has three valuable years of NFL playing experience as a QB at his disposal. Combine those and you get the ideal man to tutor Treon Harris and turn him into a star. Now in his second year at Texas Tech, if the Gators can grab him now, I don’t think he’d leave for a long, long time.

Pros: He is one of the premier offensive minds in the country. I have no doubt he would instantly turn the Gators’ offense into a successful one. He has Case Keenum and Johnny Manziel on his resume of talented QB’s he has developed, and with some hands on work with the talented Treon Harris, I’m excited to see what he can do. He’s also very good at recruiting the talent to be able to develop in the first place. Offensive players in high school would jump at the chance to play for Kingsbury.

Cons: You can’t ignore it. His defenses at TTU have been abysmal. If he comes to Florida, the first thing he’s going to have to do is find a stout defensive coordinator, and then get the hell out of the way. With Kingsbury in full command of the offense, and a sharp defensive mind in full control of the defense, this team will be OK. But the lack of a defensive presence accompanying him wherever he’s gone (both as a head coach and defensive coordinator… which I admit really isn’t his fault) is a concern, just like it is with Kevin Sumlin (spoiler alert, he’s on this list too).

Chances he takes the job: 41%. There’s a somewhat reasonable chance he takes the job, even though he’s a Texas Tech alum. The ability to come to Gainesville, where he would start off with a ferocious defense, has to intrigue him at least to an extent. Bottom line, though, is I don’t know. What the hell, it’s worth the phone call to find out.

Overall Grade: 90%. If Kingsbury would grab a top defensive coordinator and let him be a sort of co-head coach, I’d be jumping for joy at this hire. He has had a tremendous amount of success for a young coach, though, and if you want to try another experiment, you’re much better off going with an offensive minded guy. Make no mistake, his offenses at Texas Tech have not been his problem.

13) James Franklin

Current job: Penn State Nittany Lions

Current age: 42

Overview: Franklin is an interesting candidate. He has a short yet extremely impressive resume of building offenses and developing talented players (Jordan Matthews, Jordan Rodgers). Exceeding expectations at Vanderbilt and now Penn State has to have Jeremy Foley at least thinking about about him. Overachievers are exactly what he’s looking for. Part of that is his cocky swagger, which is a double edged sword. I have to think it will help him at Florida more than it would hurt him, though.

Pros: Franklin had success at Vanderbilt. That’s about all you need to know about him. He took the perennial cellar dweller of the SEC and turned them into a 9-4 team in back to back seasons. Now he’s having success at a Penn State program that’s going to be haunted by the Jerry Sandusky scandal for years to come in recruiting (and it doesn’t matter if that’s a bullshit reason to not go there, the fact is that high school kids are impressionable, and with so many schools to choose from, some will be looking for reasons to write a school off). There’s nothing of the sort that would hinder him at Florida. Recruiting in the Sunshine State would be a breeze for him. And his offenses would be more than respectable. Guaranteed.

Cons: He has an attitude about him that would piss off the boosters, and he’s a bit stubborn, like Muschamp. He might have an initial problem getting acclimated to life at a place like Florida, where expectations are sky high. Then again, his stubbornness hasn’t really cost him anything like it has Muschamp, so saying that’s going to be a problem is mere speculation.

Chance he takes the job: 50%. There’s no way of knowing, so I’m going to cop out and say it’s 50/50. He often hides what he’s thinking, and I can’t really say how happy he is at Penn State. Then again, recruiting would be so much easier at Florida than it is at Penn State, and I still think he hates Tennessee. And yes, his brash and unapologetic mind seems to work in a way that might make the thought of continuing to pound the Vols a real reason to ditch Penn State for Florida. On the flip side, he grew up right outside of Happy Valley, so this may be his dream job.

Overall Grade: 88% Franklin would be the equivalent of the Patriots taking Tom Brady in the sixth round. It has the upside to be the steal of the century in terms of head coaches. He’s also very young, so he could stay awhile. And his cocky attitude would be universally embraced by Gator fans as long as he wins. The only reason he’s not higher is because he might be so emotionally attached to PSU that it would be a total waste of time trying to get him.

12) Todd Graham

Current job: Arizona State Sun Devils

Current age: 49

Overview: Yes, there is a coach currently working for an Arizona school that I’d be excited to have as our next head coach. But he doesn’t coach in Tucson; he coaches in Tempe. And damn well. Graham has an impressive established head coaching record, from Rice to Tulsa to Pitt to Arizona State. Until last night, his Sun Devils were very much in the mix for a national championship. Even without a national title, though, Graham has built a semi-powerhouse in Tempe.

Pros: an established head coaching career that has spanned four FBS schools and the fact that he does better and better with each job he gets makes him very appealing. Arizona State was nothing before he got there, but now they are on the brink of winning 10 games in back to back seasons. To even get them into the national championship picture is an accomplishment. And while he may not be the best recruiter on this list- ASU never cracked the top 20- he’s still a very, very good one. At a place like Florida, it would be a little easier for him, anyway.

Cons: Just like Patterson, his lack of experience in the SEC is certainly something that will make Foley think twice. After all, that’s pretty much the only reason he hired Muschamp. He’s also a defensive minded coach, like Muschamp and Ron Zook. And those two things concern me a little bit, which is why he’s as low as he is.

Chances he takes the job: 45%. I put him slightly under a coin flip because he’s happy at Arizona State. But he’s also on his fourth head coaching job in less than a decade, too, which means he’s prone to happy feet. It’d be very interesting to see how it plays out. I think if Foley made the right pitch and made it sound like he really wanted him, he’d think about it, and after long deliberation, he’d pack his bags and go.

Overall grade: 89%. I’d be happy with Graham because I think he’d be a long term solution. There’s really nowhere higher up he could possibly go. Any job he would leave Florida to take would be considered a lateral move. And I do think he’d have success at Florida after an initial period of lumps that every first year SEC head coach not named Kevin Sumlin suffers through. I’d take him as my next coach any day.

11) Mark Hudspeth

Current Job: Louisiana Rajin’ Cajuns

Current age: 45

Overview: Hudspeth may actually be the next best realistic long term option behind Gundy. I give the nod to Hudspeth in terms of calling him before Strong because I think he’s substantially more likely to take the job. Hudspeth has quietly been one of the most successful coaches at the non Power Five conference level in the country. Following a successful run at North Alabama, he posted 9-4 records in each of his first three seasons at ULL, and his Cajuns are 4-3 this year. Not only that, but his teams are capable of scoring at will. His Cajuns failed to score 30 points in just 15 games in his three and a half years at ULL.

Pros: Hudspeth has hit the ceiling at ULL. There’s only so much talent he can recruit and so much he can do with it. But in terms of doing the best he can with what he has- which is really the best measure of a coach- he’s done a phenomenal job. ULL is now a consistent Sun Belt title contender, winning 9 games in each of his first three seasons. You want perspective? ULL had only won 9 games once in their 40 year history before Hudspeth got there. And with no ceiling at Florida, well… (voice trails off; imagine the conclusion of the sentence. Imagine something exciting). And he knows the SEC very well (he was Dan Mullen’s receivers coach at Mississippi State in 2009 and 2010).

Cons: Hudspeth has never coached at the highest level. And aside from those two years at MSU and one year as Navy’s offensive coordinator, he hasn’t even been an assistant at the FBS level. This isn’t a deal breaker by any means, but it’s why he’s as low as he is on this list. (Of course, lots of guys ahead of him are not as likely to take the job as he is, either).

Chances he takes the job: 50%. Make it another even 50/50 call with Hudspeth. He definitely won’t retire at ULL, but he may be waiting for the perfect job to open up. Jeremy Foley doesn’t like to wait any longer than he absolutely has to. That said, if Foley makes the call soon enough and offers him the job before Christmas, I think he takes it. Face it, ULL will never be able to compete for a national title, though they may be able to scare the shit out of some teams (like Florida). But scaring a team is not the same as beating them, and New Orleans Bowl trophies are not what Hudspeth wants to be remembered for.

Overall Grade: 86%. It’s the most important thing to note about Hudspeth, so I’ll repeat it a third time: he has done all he can do with ULL. It’s time for Hudspeth to compete with the big boys. He’s passed every test at the sub power five conference level.

George Brown: I’m a Gator as long as (OL coach) Mike Summers is

One of the constants in college football is that when you fire a coach, you are likely going to lose recruits. Florida very well might, but highly touted offensive line recruit George Brown is probably not going to be one of them.

I just spoke with Brown, who reassured me:

He went on to say that even if Summers was not retained, he would still consider Florida. He said that he loves the university overall, and that he loves the Gator Nation. But it would really come down to who the new coaches were- both head coach and his new offensive line coach- for him to wind up signing with Florida.

Brown is one of the nation’s highest rated offensive linemen, and seems to be a joy to have on a team. He’s very charismatic on twitter, and he was very entertaining in the interview we did with him over the summer. I would hate to lose him. But I do think that in the end, he stays a Gator.

Florida Gators Head Coaching Candidates: 20-16

It’s finally over. Will Muschamp has been Zookered.

He’s a lame duck, a dead man walking, a laughingstock. Call him what you want, but the fact of the matter is that he will not be the Gators’ head coach in 2015. So the obvious next question is: well, who will be?

Throughout the week, I’ll be unveiling my top choices to succeed Muschamp at Florida. I’ve whittled it down to 20 guys I think have at least the faintest glimmer of a possibility of taking the job, and I’ll be unveiling them in increments of five. The order I have them in is the order in which I would make the phone call to. It takes several things into account: how much I want them, how quickly I think they can have success, and how likely I think they are to take the job.

So here we go, starting with 20-16 (the rest of the list is linked at the bottom):

20) Mike Gundy

Current job: Oklahoma State Cowboys

Current age: 47

Overview: Gundy has been consistently winning at Oklahoma State for a decade now, and has developed several NFL players along the way. Before being named the head coach, he served as Les Miles’ offensive coordinator from 2001-2004. Most notably, Gundy got the Pokes to #3 in the country in 2011 after winning the Big 12, but was shut out of the national championship game thanks to LSU and Alabama’s statuses as SEC powerhouses. Overall, he’s 82-43 at Oklahoma State. But the Cowboys are 5-5 this year, and it very well may be time for him to go.

Pros: Gundy is very young to have had the success that he’s had so far. He’s developed several notable QB’s, including Brandon Weeden and Zac Robinson, which makes me feel good about putting Treon Harris in his hands. And his teams are always where they’re supposed to be offensively, which means that he could win right away with the offensive talent that’s been wasted but will still be there if he comes to Florida next year. And he’s a very good recruiter

Cons: My problem with Gundy is that other than two or three years, his teams have disappointed in the end. He’s just 1-8 against Oklahoma, the Pokes’ biggest rival, and has only won what’s usually a good but not great Big 12 conference once. He is almost like the Big 12’s Mark Richt- consistently decent, sometimes good and occasionally great. Is that what we’re willing to accept at Florida? I know I wouldn’t accept Mark Richt’s 14 years at Georgia as a 14 year period of results at Florida, and I’m afraid that’s what we’d get with Gundy. Also, he’s never been in the SEC.

Chance he’d take the job: 60%. I think his patience for mediocrity is dwindling at Oklahoma State, even though he’s dug his roots there (played QB and coached for a total of 20 years). Steve Spurrier dug his roots at Florida and left after a decade; why should we think Gundy wouldn’t? But he may be waiting for a different job that he won’t publicly admit he’s waiting for, like Michigan.

Overall Grade: 76%. I’d be able to make peace with having Gundy as the next Florida coach because of the higher ceiling, but not until Jeremy Foley has made a good faith effort at every single person ahead of him on this list with the possible exception of the next guy on it (flip a coin between #19 and 20).

19) Dan Quinn

Current Job: Seattle Seahawks (Defensive Coordinator)

Current age: 44

Overview: Quinn was Muschamp’s defensive coordinator in his first two years at Florida, and he may have the only really good hire Muschamp ever made in terms of assistant coaches throughout his four years (it’s hard to tell about Kurt Roper either way). Quinn has plenty of NFL experience, including a Super Bowl ring last year with Seattle, and that made him exceptional at developing NFL caliber players during his two years at Florida. Having said that, he has no head coaching experience, which is why he’s way, way, way down on this list.

Pros: He’s definitely one of the nation’s top defensive minds. He directly worked with Dante Fowler, Josh Evans, Matt Elam, Jon Bostic, Jelani Jenkins, and many, many more Gators who are now or who will be in the NFL. The question is when he will be a head coach, not if. And given his time at Florida, and the way he recruited alongside Muschamp, I have no doubt he wouldn’t miss a beat in terms of continuing to throw out nasty defenses.

Cons: He’s never been a head coach. Period. That’s the only negative I see with him, but it is a BIG one. In a way, he would be a very similar hire to Muschamp, and that would certainly make me think twice. At least Muschamp was the head coach in waiting at Texas. Quinn has always been working for a higher up coach.

Chance he takes the job: 93%. This isn’t my concern with him. Considering that he’s never been a head coach, and that all coaches someday dream of being head coaches, I have no doubt he’d take the job.

Overall Grade: 72%: If Quinn would learn from Muschamp’s biggest mistake- hire a good, young offensive coordinator and then get the hell out of the way and let him do his job- I think he could be successful beyond our wildest dreams. But there’s no indication that he knows how to do that, and even though it’s worked with Mark Richt and Jimbo Fisher, I am very, very leery of hiring somebody who has never been a head coach before. I think there’s tremendous upside, but not one I’m willing to take a chance on without having exhausted all my other options first.

18) Larry Fedora

Current job: North Carolina Tar Heels

Current age: 52

Overview: Fedora is one of many, many guys on this list that have busted through the ceilings the college football world has set for him wherever he goes. First he took a Southern Miss team to a Conference USA Championship Game- where they out dueled Kevin Sumlin’s Case Keenum led Houston squad. Then he took over a sanction riddled UNC team and has guided them to consecutive bowl games in his first two years- and one more win will get them to a third. And before he became a head coach, he was… wait for it… Ron Zook’s offensive coordinator at Florida.

Pros: He was responsible for tutoring Rex Grossman in his final year at Florida and then beginning the development of Chris Leak; I’d love to see him work with Treon Harris. But he developed more than just QB’s. He called the plays for some of the biggest upsets in Florida history (Georgia in 2002, LSU in 2003 and FSU in 2004). Despite his history at Florida, he’s appealing for other reasons: he runs an offense that has a chance to be successful right away, and he’s very young, meaning he might stay for awhile if he’s successful.

Cons: His team’s defenses have never been overly impressive, for one. And on a bigger picture level… granted, the ceiling isn’t very high at either Southern Miss or North Carolina. But while he has exceeded their expectations, he hasn’t done it by as much as some of the coaches ahead of him on this list have other than winning Conference USA in 2011 with USM. His teams have been successful, relative to their overall prestige, but not in the eye popping way some other guys have been. This year, he’s 5-5 against an ACC schedule that doesn’t include FSU. Here’s the best was I can put it. He’s appealing… but there are plenty of better candidates.

Chance he takes the job: 86%. I’m willing to bet anything reasonable he takes the job if bluntly offered it. SEC school, easy to recruit, he’s been at Florida before, etc.

Overall Grade: 82%. I’d be fine with having Fedora as our next head coach as long as all the options ahead of him were given a legitimate offer from Foley first.

17) Jim McElwain

Current Job: Colorado State Rams

Current age: 52

Overview: McElwain called the shots at Alabama from 2008 to 2011 under Nick Saban, and had a great deal of success on a number of fronts. Particularly in his play calling. But he also did a great job in developing star players at the skill position (Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, Trent Richardson, and Eddy Lacy to an extent). Now as the head man at Colorado State, McElwain has quietly built the Rams into a legitimate threat to beat you up if you mess around. CSU is 7-1 in the Mountain West, including wins over Boston College and Colorado. And they score points. Lots of them.

Pros: I’ll be honest. There’s something about McElwain that I can’t quite put my finger on that makes him very attractive. Aside from the impressive job he’s done at traditional cellar dweller Colorado State, that is. Maybe it’s the fact that he comes from the same conference that Urban Meyer came from. Maybe it’s his familiarity with the SEC. Or maybe it’s the fact that he’s had head coaching success, but he hasn’t been to the highest level yet, which means that if he’s successful at Florida, he’d stay awhile. (Of course, I realize that’s a double edged sword.)

Cons: Like I just said, he hasn’t been to the highest level of the game yet as a head coach. And while it worked with Urban Meyer, lots of things have worked with Meyer that didn’t work for others. You can’t bank on something because of Urban.

Chance he takes the job: 65%. I think there’s a strong likelihood he accepts the job at Florida, but he may be scared off by the rebuilding job that lays ahead. Of course, anybody else on this list may be too, but that’s really the only reason I can see McElwain declining.

Overall Grade: 83%. McElwain would be a good hire. He’s a solid backup plan. Meaning, I’d be OK with him, but let’s try the guys ahead of him on this list first. And if they all say no, then so be it. I’d have no problem with him as the next head coach.

16) Dabo Swinney

Current job: Clemson Tigers

Current age: 44

Overview: Swinney has done pretty much all he can do at Clemson. He’s guided the Tigers out of the hole Tommy Bowden dug for them and has turned them into a legitimate ACC contender (58-26 overall at Clemson). The rise of FSU in recent years has proven something, though: Swinney will never win a national championship at Clemson. He can recruit well enough, he can coach well enough and he can game plan well enough, but things will just never work out for him in terms of winning it all.

Pros: He’s an SEC man by nature (played at Alabama and coached there for four years). He’s developed explosive players in Tajh Boyd, CJ Spiller and Sammy Watkins. His offenses have always been dynamic at Clemson. He can recruit like a gangbuster (in fact, he frequently beats Florida out for top players). Put simply, this is as impressive a resume as one can possibly build at Clemson in this day and age.

Cons: Swinney hasn’t ever really won the big game other than last year’s Orange Bowl. He can’t beat FSU or South Carolina, his Tigers got clobbered in the Orange Bowl a few years ago, and they got clobbered in the final game of the dying Clemson-Georgia rivalry (though they did beat them the year before). After seeing Muschamp go a combined 2-5 against Georgia and FSU, not to mention the Sugar Bowl debacle a few years ago, this makes me suck in my breath a little.

Chance he takes the job: 80%. Our own NWB put it best in our long ago podcast when he said that Swinney would probably crash into a tree getting out of Clemson so fast. Clemson is little league as a non FSU/Miami ACC school. Florida is the big time as an SEC school with three national championships in the last 20 years. If Jeremy Foley makes the offer, I’m willing to bet he takes it.

Overall Grade: 83%: I’ll essentially say the same thing I said about McElwain. Swinney would be a very good hire, but he’s not the best Florida can do. There are plenty of better guys I would target first, and if they all say no, then sure, I’d welcome him with open arms.

Now, for the rest of the list:

15-11

10-6

And here’s the list from our very own “The Bone”