Florida’s season is sinking fast as is the current coaching regime under Will Muschamp.

Lingering questions about his ability to lead the Gators generates tons of coaching interest elsewhere, so we posed this debate topic to the SDS staff:


Jon Cooper (@JonSDS): Jim Harbaugh

Florida could go a number of different directions in its head coaching search, but I have a few theories as to which type of coach the Gators will target. Knowing the success of Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer — two offensive coaches — and the struggles of Ron Zook and Will Muschamp — two unproven defensive coordinators, Florida will go after an offensive-minded head coach with experience and a proven track record. While many will say Jim Harbaugh isn’t a viable candidate, I would beg to differ. There are rumblings about Harbaugh’s status with the 49ers, and Harbaugh could make the jump back into college. Candidates like Dan Mullen, Mike Gundy or Hugh Freeze are much more realistic, but Florida could catch the perfect storm for Harbaugh should he decide to go back to college and choose Florida over Michigan. A pipe dream? Likely.

Christopher Smith (@csmithSDS): Mike Gundy

Florida should give strong consideration to Jim Harbaugh, Bob Stoops and even Jim McElwain — assuming they fire Will Muschamp. But Gundy flirted with Tennessee when that job came open, and he’s quietly coveted an SEC job according to ESPN reporter Travis Haney, among others. Gundy meets the first criteria Florida should have in that he has succeeded as a head coach on a national stage. Teams tend to zig-zag, and with Muschamp entering as a defensive coordinator, given the Gators’ struggles on offense, it makes sense the team would covet an offensive coach. There’s precedent here, as LSU has done well since hiring Les Miles from the Cowboys. I don’t see Hugh Freeze leaving Ole Miss, and the relative price tag for Dan Mullen isn’t worth it, especially considering it’s an uninspiring hire to the fan base. Gundy would meet the team’s presumed wish list. He’s a proven winner, an offensive coach and an interesting personality.

Ethan Levine (@EthanLevineSDS): Dan Mullen

Although I think he’ll stay put in his current job, the best candidate for Florida’s potential vacancy is Mississippi State coach and former Gators offensive coordinator Dan Mullen. The Bulldogs head coach is already a recognizable name in Gainesville, and he’s gained more momentum this season than any other coach in the nation. He’d bring that momentum with him to Florida, which already has a recognizable brand on a national level, and would be able to hit the ground running in elevating UF back to national prominence. Mullen has been as successful as any coach in the SEC in player development, routinely helping former two- and three-star recruits earn spots on NFL rosters after their college careers come to an end. Furthermore, he’s been exceptional in developing quarterbacks over the year, as evidenced by the success of Tim Tebow and now Dak Prescott. If you’re looking for a coach to ensure Treon Harris is not the next Jeff Driskel, Mullen is the man for the hob. He’s the only candidate who could begin delivering results right away, thanks to his improved image in the eyes of recruits, his history at Florida and the program’s immense wealth and resources. Mullen seems adamant he’s not leaving Mississippi State, but if Florida could change his mind it would be a big step in the right direction for the Gators.

Brett Weisband (@WeisbandSDS): Kliff Kingsbury

If you want someone completely different from Will Muschamp — which, obviously, you do — call Kliff Kingsbury. Offensive-minded? Check. Head coaching experience? Yep. The energy and it factor to rejuvenate a down program? You know it. The only similarity between the two is their tie to Texas. Kingsbury is cool and laid back where Muschamp is high strung and combustible. I realize Kingsbury’s record is pretty mediocre in his two seasons at Texas Tech, but you need to pump some excitement back into the Gators program to get the clearly miserable fans back on board.

Jordan Cox (@Jordan_Cox): Bob Stoops or Rich Rodriguez

I think it’s safe to say athletic director Jeremy Foley will target someone with head coaching experience. That said, I think Bob Stoops and/or Rich Rodriguez are best suited for the position. Stoops has a decade-plus worth of experience at one of college football’s most storied programs, and that includes a national championship and numerous BCS bowl appearances. He’s recruited well through the middle part of the country, and with the resources of Florida and around the southeast, Stoops could do very well. He knows the program, having spent time as defensive coordinator under Steve Spurrier. Yes, Rodriguez’s only other stop at a major college football program was a failed experiment, but I believe he could be successful leading the Gators. His offensive system would attract talent around the state of Florida. He’s a great developer of talent; he built West Virginia into a national power with Pat Smith, Noel Devine and others, and now is doing the same at Arizona.