Tennessee’s coaching search is officially underway following the termination of former head football coach Butch Jones on Sunday.

Several names have been linked to the Vols’ coaching position for weeks, but now that there is actually a vacancy, things will likely heat up in the coming weeks.

But according to ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen is the best fit to fill Tennessee’s coaching vacancy.

“I think they need a proven head coach with Power-5 experience. Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen makes a lot of sense. [He] knows both sides of the SEC, has certainly elevated Mississippi State. He can develop quarterbacks, checks a lot of the boxes that Tennessee needs.”

Rittenberg also acknowledged that current ESPN analysts and former NFL coaches Jon Gruden and Chip Kelly would both be on the Vols’ radar as “pie in the sky” candidates. He also expects Virginia Tech’s Justin Fuente and Memphis’ Mike Norvell to get attention from the school, but believes Mullen is the best fit for the job.

“To me, Dan Mullen makes the most sense for this job. Understanding the SEC and also the ability to take over that offense and make improvements right away.”

Mullen is also considered one of the favorites to be the Gators’ next head coach, having previously worked with the team as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2005-08, which included winning two national championships and coaching Tim Tebow during his Heisman Trophy season.

He currently holds a 68-45 (32-38 SEC) head coaching record and has led the Bulldogs to seven consecutive winning seasons.

In 2010, Mississippi State earned its first No. 1 overall ranking in program history and finished with a 10-3 (6-2 SEC) overall record, earning Mullen several coaching honors including the AP and Athlon SEC Coach of the Year awards and the Maxwell Football Club Coach of the Year award.

ESPN analyst names candidate that “makes the most sense” for Tennessee coaching gig Michael Reaves/Getty Images
Jason has contributed to numerous websites in the past covering a wide range of sports including SEC football for the past four seasons. He began his journalism career as a student journalist at the University of Tennessee where he covered the Vols for the student radio station and newspaper. Here’s ...Read more
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