The search for a new head coach at Florida is underway after the school got rid of Jim McElwain on Sunday. Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel has his three top choices and he believes that the Gators will hire one of those coaches as they are all offensive-minded coaches and have proven they can recruit and coach at a high level. They are Chip Kelly, Scott Frost and Dan Mullen. Here are his thoughts on Kelly, who could come with complications:
The most qualified candidate is Chip Kelly, who hasn’t appeared particularly interested in working in the SEC. But there’s a chance that the potential of coaching at a blue-blood program like Florida has changed that. Hiring Kelly, who went 46-7 at Oregon, would come with an extra administrative step because of his NCAA issues in Eugene that included a show-cause penalty that’s since expired.
That administrative step Thamel mentions would be through the conference as it passed a resolution stating that a coach “who has either engaged in unethical conduct or participated in activity that resulted in a major infraction” must have the school’s president or chancellor “consult with the commissioner” about the hiring. So ultimately, it would come down to commissioner Greg Sankey giving his approval on the move.
If Kelly becomes unavailable then it’s a two-horse race with Frost and Mullen as Thamel believes. He thinks that both can get Florida back to the Run ‘N’ Gun style of offense that made the Gators so good under Steve Spurrier. He also believes that by ousting McElwain before Halloween, AD Scott Stricklin has given himself an advantage in going after Frost over his alma mater in Nebraska.
The timing and the tenor of the hiring hint first at Frost, who is the perceived leader and most likely to get the job. With Nebraska poised to fire Mike Riley and make a run at Frost, Florida’s pre-Halloween jettisoning of McElwain portends that they want an edge in the market. This is the same strategy former Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley used in outfoxing Notre Dame to hire Urban Meyer during the 2004 season.
Should the strategy work out and Florida lands Frost then they are getting the man responsible for the highest-scoring offense in the country right now at 51 points a game. He also has a top-5 total offensive team that averages almost 530 yards per game. Mullen’s appeal would be that he can develop quarterbacks well and he would be coming back to a place he’s familiar with and can recruit at immediately.