Who is likely to be the next Gator coach?

Jeremy Foley is on the hunt now for the next head football coach at the University of Florida. Here is a list of candidates that seem prime for the picking.

Early Sunday we dropped a list of “first call” coaches that we feel Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley needs to contact first for the replacement of head coach Will Muschamp. The list was really the top names from the college and pro ranks that you should have say no to you before moving on.

You can find that list here at this link.

RELATED LINK: Charlie Strong sidesteps Gator job question

One of those names we feel should be mentioned with the list below. Oklahoma Sooner head coach Bob Stoops is in his 16th year in Norman and there is plenty of talk that this could be his last and he may want to move on. We are confident in believing that Florida would be a desired destination for Stoops if indeed he does move on, even though it isn’t the only destination he will be liked to.

RELATED LINK: Stoops not a candidate for Gators' job

Still, here is the next group of coaches that have encouraging resumes and other attributes that we feel will be under high consideration and that would likely say yes to the move to Florida. There is no order to this madness, but we feel a solid list.

MOST LIKELY TO SAY YES LIST

Rich Rodriguez (Arizona HC) Current Record (8-2)

Why he’s on the list: Currently in his second program that he has elevated to national prominence after doing it before at West Virginia and previous assistant stops. He runs a spread offense that would cater to the dynamic play makers in Florida that should be easily recruited to Gainesville. Arizona is ranked 13th in the country right now at a program that is over achieving.

Why he would do it: When the program is running well, Florida is the best in a state that has so many big time athletes. The program as a whole is a step up from a very good Arizona program and the chance to coach in the SEC has to be enticing.

Obstacles: He had a bad run at Michigan that many believe was undermined by others.

Story Lines: Rodriguez used to mine South Florida talent when he was at West Virginia and Michigan. He is well respected in south Florida.

MIKE GUNDY (Oklahoma State HC) Current Record (5-5)

Why he’s on the list: One of the best offensive minds in all of college football that has several understudies that will be on this list or are close to it. No worst that 3rd place in the last five years in the Big-12 for a program well behind Texas, Oklahoma, and a couple of others in stature.

Why he would do it: He can be a top dog in a state that would cater to his offensive philosophy. He would be afforded the ability to go out and get a top defensive coordinator.

Obstacles: Currently in the middle of a 5-5 season. Boone Pickens is the real deal when it comes to holding on to assets he wants to hold on to and he is the high money booster at OSU that would make it hard.

Story Lines: Maybe he is tired of losing assistants and tired of bing third fiddle in the Big-12 and 2nd fiddle in his own state.

Gary Patterson (Texas Christian HC) Current Record (9-1)

Why he’s on the list: Terrific defensive coach that has eight double-digit win seasons in his 14 years as the head coach at TCU. Led the Mountain West champion Horned Frogs to a Rose Bowl victory in 2010. He’s defensive minded, but wants a prolific offense.

Why he would do it: The word is he believes it is really tough recruiting to Fort Worth and the small school. Some may take that as a lack of recruiting prowess, but the mere fact he wants to be better at it makes me feel otherwise.

Obstacles: He’s a Big-12 guy having played at Kansas State and has been coaching at TCU since 1998.

JIM MCELWAIN (Colorado State HC) Current Record (9-1)

Why he’s on the list: He was the coordinator for three Alabama national championships so he knows the SEC and what it takes to win. He’s got the 19th ranked offense in the country putting up 480 yards per game. Went 8-6 and a bowl win in year one and is doing very well and is currently coaching the 22nd ranked team in the country. He also has a year of experience in the NFL to recruit to.

Why he would do it: It is a big step up in prestige from Colorado State.

Obstacles: Pro-style offense and not sure we would want to make that change back.

Story Lines: He could come back to the SEC where he helped the Crimson Tide dominate as their offensive coordinator for three big time years.

CHAD MORRIS (Clemson OC) Current Record (7-3)

Why he’s on the list: Disciple of both Art Briles and Gus Malzahn. He may be known as the best offensive coordinator in college football. Several state of Florida offensive prospects would likely switch their pledge right away.

Why he would do it: He would make this move in a heartbeat. He has turned down other head coaching jobs waiting for a bigger one.

Obstacles: It is extremely hard for me to believe that Foley would go the coordinator route in terms of a guy that has never been a head coach before.

Story Lines: Was the head coach of one time Gator commitment Jevan Sneed at Stephenville HS in Texas.

TODD GRAHAM (Arizona State HC) Current Record (8-2)

Why he’s on the list: Took a .500 ASU program and has gone 8-5, 10-4, and now 8-2 so far this year. He’s a big time defensive guy that likes a wide open offense.

Why he would do it: Another step up for sure.

Obstacles: He can coach and he can build a program, but would the way he left Pitt keep him from getting a call? Also his defense is suffering this season.

Mark Hudspeth (Louisiana-Lafayette HC) Current Record (7-3)

Why he’s on the list: He almost beat the Gators in The Swamp in 2012. He’s at a third tier program that has to play paycheck games but he still goes to bowl games.

Why he would do it: Huge step up for him to come to the SEC and Florida. His teams play above their heads and are annual giant killers.

Obstacles: You could say he has only coached a lower tier team, but he has beaten some big time programs while doing that. He is going to be a big time coach at some place in the very near future.

THE MAYBE, MAYBE NOT LIST

HUGH FREEZE (Ole Miss HC) Current Record (8-2): He would be hard to pry away from Ole Miss as a guy that grew up there and the fact they will be throwing more money around.

DAN MULLEN (Mississippi State HC) Current Record (9-1): Don’t think Foley goes this direction and again Mississippi State will pay big to keep him.

Mark Helfrich (Oregon HC) Current Record (9-1): If you can’t get Chip Kelly, why not Kelly’s successor? But, if they are in the playoffs, timing would not work out.

JIM MORA JR. (UCLA HC) Current Record (8-2): He turned down Texas. Ranked 12th nationally and he has a good deal of pro experience on his side and runs a wide open offense. He loves Los Angeles, would he leave?

James Franklin (Penn State HC) Current Record (6-4): First year at a program and they haven’t exactly moved forward, but he was the hottest commodity a year ago. There are rumblings that his players aren’t happy with him at the helm but that is typical for the new guy coming in. Would he leave after just one year?

Mike Shanahan (Unemployed): Two negatives for Shanahan. He’s 62 years old, and he hasn’t been in the college game since his stint with the Gators in the early 80’s. Otherwise we are talking about a brilliant offensive mind, that regularly visits Foley and Gainesville and has three Super Bowl rings to flash to recruits when he sees them.

Dana Holgorsen (West Virginia HC) Current Record (6-4): There have been personal issues in the past and he has a gigantic buyout. He can coach but would all the red flags eliminate him as a candidate? He’s another terrific offensive mind with a wide open passing offense.

DAVID CUTCLIFFE (Duke HC) Current Record (8-2): There is so much to like about Cutcliffe, but his health and age (62) aren’t things Foley will be looking for.

Doc Holliday (Marshall HC) Current Record (10-0): Undefeated and ranked 18th for little old Marshall is pretty amazing. He’s 57, which isn’t ideal but younger than several guys mentioned above. He’s a killer recruiter and really helped Florida establish themselves in south Florida in recruiting when he was the DB coach back in the Urban Meyer years. I would say he is more of a manager of a team than a coordinator type that is going to meddle with either side of the ball.

(Franz Beard assisted with this published article)


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