Handicapping the Gators job search 11/23

What a difference a couple of days can make, both on the football field and in the world of trying to follow coaching searches. I am going to give you my take on the search multiple times a week when I think things have changed and tell you which direction the coaching search is headed at the University of Florida. Here are my latest odds.

When we left you last, early Saturday morning, we had eight sure fire names on the list that there would be interest for and then our “others” group that a coach could come from as an outlier. Well a couple of days later and we dropped a name off the list (Mike Gundy) that we just don’t believe will be a primary target right now. We will talk about him in the ‘others’ section below. But, here is what I believe given everything I am hearing right now.

Bob Stoops (Oklahoma HC): Well, I kept Stoops at the 30% mark, but honestly wanted to drop him a little bit. The truth is, I got my first bit of negative news on him about being the next guy from a good source and it really threw me off. In my position you get a lot of information from a lot of people and some come from the home team side, some from the team the coach is now affiliated, there may be friends of the coach, could be players, could be agents, etc. At the end of the day you have to weigh it all. I got a bit of news from the booster side that it won’t be Stoops and like I said it got me shook up a bit because of it. However, I do know that Jeremy Foley is a master manipulator with this stuff and I can see where he could say anything to anyone, especially if they are asking for the info. I also heard a little from the agent side that told me they believe it will be Stoops. We have to remember that nothing is signed, nor will be signed until the coach in question is done with their regular season. For Stoops, his season ends when he plays Gundy on December 6. (My odds AS OF THIS MOMENT for Stoops are 30%).

Brian Kelly (Notre Dame HC): I really think I would have gone higher here for Kelly except for the lost yesterday. While I don’t think Foley would put much stock at all in one loss or one win, when you start looking at four losses on the season, it all of a sudden doesn’t become the “big splash” or the “wow” hire we have heard passed around. Still, I look at it a little bit as believing that Kelly is a really good coach with a high octane offense and any time you can go into Notre Dame and steal a coach that they want to keep, that sends a powerful message across the land about the University of Florida. I think that covers the ‘wow’ part of it in my book. I will say that I have heard Kelly is interested, we all know his agent is Trace Armstrong who lives in Gainesville and has strong ties to the University still, I also have a couple of other nuggets I can’t share as well that have really gotten me intrigued in the last few days about Kelly as the coach. With all of that said, he hasn’t moved ahead of Stoops with what I am hearing, but he has gained 5% on my odds. (My odds AS OF THIS MOMENT for Brian Kelly are 20%).

Jim Mora (UCLA HC): I know I have said this, but this was my number one guy six weeks ago when I thought the coaching change might occur. Since then he slid with a second loss, but in the last few weeks he has really produced and his Bruins are now 9-2 and just polished off arch rival USC 38-20. The Bruins will be playing for the PAC-12 title this year after blistering co-division winner Arizona State earlier in the year 62-27. Mora loves to use the athletic quarterback, the kind of offense that Foley wants back at Florida and his offense is ranked 16th so far this season and is usually higher than that. He’s got seven years of pro experience, although not a great stint at that level. They will be favored at home against unranked Stanford and that would be their 11th win. There could be a problem in that they have a chance of actually making the NCAA Football Playoffs this year and that would certainly give him even more thought about staying, but also most likely prolong any chance to have real negotiations with him and his agent to get something done. (My odds AS OF THIS MOMENT for Brian Jim Mora are up 5% in the last two days and at 15%).


Gary Patterson (TCU HC): I can imagine the kind of frustration that Patterson might be feeling looking at a possible 11-1 season and missing the college playoffs. TCU’s total offense is ranked 4th in the country and his defense while ranked 4th in the Big-12 right now is usually one of the premiere defenses in all of college football. He likes it high stakes on both sides of the ball. He is just about everything Foley is looking for in a coach and a guy that is also frustrated at how hard it is to recruit to the tiny school. Still, he has been there a long time and Texas is home. Those are two obstacles that Foley would face to bring him to Florida. (My odds AS OF THIS MOMENT for Gary Patterson are the same in the last two days and at 8%).

Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss HC): I don’t think Freeze helped himself with the showing against Arkansas on Saturday, but again I don’t think Foley would ever put too much stock into one contest when tit comes to hiring a new coach. That Ole Miss is being investigated by the NCAA doesn’t help things at all here and this one is in danger of falling off the list. I do know that he would listen to Florida, but listening and acting upon anything are two different things. (My odds AS OF THIS MOMENT for Hugh Freeze have dropped 5% in the last two days and are at 4%).

Gus Malzahn (Auburn HC): The ridiculous schedule for the Tigers can’t hurt Malzahn’s stock in any way. 8-3 with that schedule is big time and no other way to look at it in my opinion. His defense isn’t up to snuff, but Foley would make sure he got who he wanted as a DC and make it work. The biggest thing would be prying him away from Auburn. There is no doubt he likes it there and has a good thing going, and there is no doubt they want to keep him. I don’t know if there is an amount of money or whatever or if Malzahn would feel it would be that much easier to lure kids to Gainesville than Auburn, but I think Foley will still work on this one either way. (My odds AS OF THIS MOMENT for Gus Malzahn have dropped 2% in the last two days and are at 3%).

Others: My others list would be a bit confusing if all the names were listed. For instance, I think that a Gundy could possibly be a better chance than a Malzahn at this time, but I think that he isn’t really being considered at the moment. If a few coaches come off of the list above, a coach or two would instantly pop on and likely move ahead of the Malzahn’s that might be wishful thinking. Until we reach that point, it is better to consider the possibility of anyone not listed above to be the next coach equal to the possibility of getting a Kelly at this time. Of course all of this is my opinion based on the information I have gathered. (My odds AS OF THIS MOMENT for landing any other coach other than those listed has gone up 4% in the last two days and are at 20%).

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