By now, you know that the Florida Gators have let go of Jim McElwain. McElwain and the Gators parted ways on Sunday morning after a tumultuous few months in Gainesville. McElwain’s departure is on no certain terms right now, and there’s still a buyout process that may (or may not) happen.
For now, we can only guess what’s going to happen next. The Gators will have defensive coordinator Randy Shannon take over the empty spot the rest of the way. Yes, that Randy Shannon. The one who was formerly the head coach of the Miami Hurricanes.
The UF job is certainly an attractive one. It’s in a rich recruiting area, and those who’ve won there before have won big when getting high-quality talent in. The Gators have a stout recruiting class right now, although we’ll see how that turns out with McElwain’s departure in mind.
Here are a few candidates who could assume the role.
Mullen’s name will likely come up quite a lot in this coaching search. Prior to his arrival at Mississippi State in 2009, he served as Florida’s offensive coordinator and QB coach under Urban Meyer. In other words, he was at the helm for the Gators’ National Title run and the year that Tim Tebow won the Heisman. So he’s already earned the reputation in Gainesville as an astute offensive mind.
He’s done a damn good job in Starkville, a place where you’re not supposed to do what he’s done. He’s won Coach of the Year, taken State to seven straight bowls, which will turn to eight this season after their win on Saturday. He got them to as high as No. 1 in the polls, something no one ever did in the history of the program.
Mullen is making $4.5 million with Mississippi State right now. You figure Florida has enough bucks to make him happy if he wants to go to Gainesville. Whether or not he wants to leave Starkville? Well, that’s an entirely different discussion.
After Justin Fuente left Memphis for Virginia Tech, the Tigers hired Mike Norvell away from Arizona State. Norvell spent four seasons on staff at ASU, working as offensive coordinator, QB coach and assistant head coach.
In the last two seasons, he’s gone 15-6 with a 9-4 record against AAC opponents. That includes an appearance in the Boca Raton Bowl last season. Memphis is out to a 7-1 start this season with a 4-1 mark against conference opponents. Their offense has been solid this season after being one of the better units in Norvell’s first season, too.
Norvell’s name will be a hot one as the coaching carousel turns. He’s only 36 years old and is making just $1.86 million per year with Memphis. Whether or not he uses his name for leverage to earn more money yet to be seen, but UF should probably look his way and consider him at the very least.
The Iowa State Cyclones are a Top 25 team. That alone will probably get Matt Campbell’s name some run this offseason. Campbell succeeded at Toledo, earning three nine-win seasons with the Rockets in 2012, 2014 and 2015. In fact, he had four-straight winning seasons, with a seven-win year in 2013.
After a 3-9 campaign last season, the Cyclones are 6-2 and bowl eligible for the first time since 2012. More wins could be on the way for the ‘Clones too, and hell: They’ve beaten two Top 5 teams this season!
Like Norvell, Campbell is making under $2 million, currently sitting with a $1.5 million salary. He’s only 37 years old, so he could be for long if Florida decides to take him aboard. He’s built up enough prowess to this point (a possible pitfall this year in Ames not withstanding) to be considered a viable candidate.
Frost’s name could come up if the Nebraska Cornhuskers let go of Mike Riley. Frost is an alum at Nebraska, and has had a chunk of experience with Oregon and now at UCF. But since Florida let go of McElwain, they could get a head start on the process if Frost nets their interest.
At UCF, Frost took the Knights to a bowl last year and will do so again this year. They have a chance to crash the New Year’s Six this year, as they are currently 7-0 with winnable games ahead of them in the AAC. The Knights currently have the third-ranked offense in S&P+ this season and lead the nation in PPG with 47.3.
Florida’s offense needs a boost, right? Maybe Scott Frost can provide one if UF decides to land him.