Meyer Will Be Tough Act to Follow

Gator Athletic Director Jeremy Foley had to try to replace Steve Spurrier and it didn't turn out so well. He was in position to replace Billy Donovan with Anthony Grant before Donovan's change of heart about the NBA kept him in Gainesville. Now Foley is again faced with the task of determining the right man to take over at the University of Florida.

Florida's Athletic Director certainly has a head start on the process that became necessary when Urban Meyer decided to step down due to health concerns. It helps Foley that no major school is looking for a coach right now and that the NFL regular season is coming to a close. It also helps that he has about two weeks to go through this without feeling the undue pressure of worrying about the impact on the Gators recruiting class. With 19 commitments, many of them rock solid Florida's next coach should have a fine class no matter who he turns out to be.

There are several coaches who immediately jump out to me as guys who must be considered.

Mike Mularkey ---- Currently the Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator, Mularkey has proven to have a tremendous football mind. The personable former Gator tight end would love the job and his combination of youth and experience is pretty attractive.

Dan Mullen --- Mullen would walk to Gainesville on a bed of nails even if he would feel somewhat guilty about abandoning Mississippi State after just one year. His easy going nature belies a very competitive fire that burns within and he obviously knows many of the players on and off the field.

Mike Shanahan --- Foley tried to convince Shanahan to leave the NFL's Denver Broncos when Spurrier stepped down and now that Shanahan is unemployed that may still be someone Foley has in mind. Again, he's a man with an offensive football mind that cannot be questioned, though he hasn't had to play the recruiting game for more than 20 years. Of course, Shanahan can show recruits Super Bowl Championship rings from his head coaching career. Try to top that. The only hang up could be that Shanahan may have already agreed to try to fix the Washington Redskins.

Tommy Tuberville --- The former Auburn coach had an outstanding career for the Tigers and is also available immediately. He knows the SEC and has recruiting ties throughout the states of Florida, Georgia and Alabama. He's also shown he can win in The Swamp. Tuberville also gets high marks in dealing with the media and not taking himself too seriously.

Jim Harbaugh --- Harbaugh has no connection whatsoever to Florida, but he has done great work at Stanford and his confidence/cockiness reminds me of about offensive oriented coach at a private, academics first school about 20 years ago. The biggest concern with him would be the recruiting in Florida as well as the widely held belief that his goal is to get an NFL coaching job at the first opportunity.

Kevin Sumlin --- If you want to think outside the box, how about the dynamic boss of the Houston Cougars whose offense lights up the scoreboard like a Christmas tree? The Cougars have earned bowl bids in each of Sumlin's two seasons and he would be the first black head coach in football or men's basketball in Florida's history.

Charlie Strong --- Well if you want to consider Sumlin shouldn't you consider Strong? He has most of the positives you need for this job, but the great concern for me with Charlie would be his ability to handle the non-football aspects of the job. He needs to prove that at Louisville before taking on a major situation like this one.

Chris Peterson/Garry Patterson --- Actually I don't think either is a good fit being based so far away. I've been told Patterson would have a lot of trouble in the high profile arena that is Florida football. Peterson has spent all but one of his 45 years either in Idaho or further west and would seem to be an odd fit. Both are outstanding coaches and might warrant a call, but neither seems like a great fit.

There are other guys who might be on Foley's radar like Randy Edsall of Connecticut and Skip Holtz from East Carolina. But I'm betting Florida's next coach is one of the top six guys listed above.

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