Paul Finebaum evaluates the Florida opening, points to likely candidates
On an ESPN podcast Monday, ESPN’s Paul Finebaum suggested Florida’s search for its next head coach wouldn’t last long. Not as long as LSU’s, Finebaum said, which has been underway since the team announced in mid-October it would look for a new coach.
So who does Florida go out and get with LSU open and USC still open over on the West Coast? The Gators were 6 points away from Alabama last season in the SEC championship game; it has to be an appealing job, right?
“Where does the school go? They want an offensive coach,” Finebaum said Tuesday on the Keyshawn, JWill & Max radio show. “That’s why (Dan) Mullen was hired. They’ve had defensive coaches. Lane Kiffin is a name you have to look at. Billy Napier from Louisiana is not that well-known but he’s been at Clemson and Alabama. And after that, it’s literally going through the same list that we have regurgitated here every week since the beginning of the season.”
Kiffin has come up for just about every major job that has opened. The Ole Miss head coach has one of the most revered offensive minds in college football.
But the SEC Network host also poured some cold water on the Gator program. Urban Meyer and Steve Spurrier before him had tremendous success in Gainesville, and Finebaum said there hasn’t been much else.
“If you look at Florida’s history in the last 30 years they’ve had 2 successful coaches and 4 coaches who were fired,” he said. “The 2 successful ones are obvious—(Steve) Spurrier and Urban Meyer—and everyone else has been somewhat of a disaster. This is the 3rd straight coach at Florida who has been fired: Will Muschamp, (Jim) McElwain, and now Mullen.
“Mullen looked like a good selection. He was the 3rd choice, it’s worth remembering. The first 2 were Chip Kelly and Scott Frost, neither has really done all that much since they turned that job down. (Mullen) had a good track record at Mississippi State but (at Florida) he didn’t do the most important thing you have to do at a major SEC school and that’s recruit at the highest level. He was able to develop some good players. Last year he had (Kyle) Pitts and Kyle Trask and he’s had some other ones, but he couldn’t hang with Jimbo Fisher, Nick Saban, and especially Kirby Smart.
“And he didn’t even look like he liked to recruit. That was the most bizarre part of it. He had no appetite for doing what you have to do in recruiting and that’s recruit every day of the year, 24/7. I think he’s a brilliant play-caller, he’s a great developer of quarterbacks—Dak Prescott being his prized pupil—but ultimately he could not cut it at this level.”
The next coach, Finebaum alluded to, will have to be able to recruit at or near the top of the SEC.