Normally, a 34-15 record would not get a college football head coach fired, but it didn't save Dan Mullen from getting the boot by the University of Florida on Sunday. Mullen's Gators were just 2-9 in their past 11 games vs. Power 5 opponents following Saturday's upset loss at Missouri. Only three Power 5 schools had a worse record vs. Power 5 opponents in that span: Vanderbilt (0-11), Arizona (1-10) and Kansas (1-10). SportsLine offers odds on the next full-time coach at Florida with Bob Stoops, Lane Kiffin, Billy Napier, Bill O'Brien and Matt Campbell leading the way.
Florida is 5-6 this season, just the fourth time since Steve Spurrier was hired in 1990 that the Gators have lost six or more games in a season. They need a win Saturday over rival Florida State simply to get bowl eligible. That seems incredible to say considering the Gators nearly upset a historically good Alabama team less than one year ago in the SEC Championship Game.
Actually, Mullen's downfall probably started on Dec. 12, 2020, when UF lost 37-34 at home to a struggling LSU team. You may remember that as the "Shoe Game." That started a season-ending three-game skid (vs. Alabama, then blown out in the Cotton Bowl by Oklahoma).
Mullen was given the opportunity to coach the finale against Florida State, according to athletic director Scott Stricklin, but turned it down, saying he didn't want to be a distraction. Assistant coach Greg Knox was named interim head coach. Mullen's replacement will be the Gators' fourth head coach in eight seasons. He wasn't UF's first choice as the school pursued Chip Kelly and Scott Frost first, but they chose UCLA and Nebraska instead, respectively.
Mullen was the 13th FBS coach fired this season and then later Sunday that grew to 14 with Troy dumping Chip Lindsey.
Stoops probably will be Stricklin's first call as his name always comes up when this job opens. He was the assistant head coach/defensive coordinator at UF from 1996-98 before leaving for the Oklahoma top job. Stoops actually has coached since leaving OU before the 2017 season, a rather forgettable five-game stint with the XFL's Dallas Renegades in 2020.
The 61-year-old is currently working as an analyst at Fox. For what it's worth, Orlando Sentinel plugged-in columnist Mike Bianchi wrote "I'm hearing Stoops might be interested." If not Bob, how about younger brother Mike from Kentucky?
There were reports that Ole Miss' Kiffin would take the Miami (Fla.) if offered but that was before Florida opened, and UF is a better job. Oregon's Mario Cristobal is from Miami and played and coached there so if he were to leave Oregon – which is frankly doubtful – for a job in the Sunshine State, he might prefer going home rather than to Gainesville. That's if Miami even fires Manny Diaz.
Guys like Alabama offensive coordinator O'Brien, Penn State's James Franklin, Iowa State's Matt Campbell, Cincinnati's Luke Fickell and Louisiana's Napier have to be on this list and all have been tied in one form or another to USC and/or LSU.
CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd wrote there have been rumblings that Campbell may only leave Iowa State for either Notre Dame or Ohio State. Napier reportedly turned down opportunities at Mississippi State and South Carolina during the 2020 coaching cycle.
It seems rather unlikely that UF settles for a coordinator, but Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken did a fine job while the head coach at Southern Miss, taking the Golden Eagles from 1-11 his first year to 9-5 in his third season before choosing to leave for the NFL's Tampa Bay Bucs. Hey, if you can't beat Kirby Smart, take his OC. Florida typically leans toward offensive-minded coaches.
No, Florida is not luring Urban Meyer from across the state in Jacksonville or giving former star QB Tim Tebow his first head coaching job.
Via SportsLine oddsmakers: Favorites to be next full-time Florida football coach
- Bob Stoops +400
- Lane Kiffin +500
- Billy Napier +600
- Bill O'Brien +700
- Matt Campbell +800
- James Franklin +900
- Mario Cristobal +1000
- Mark Stoops +1200
- Dave Clawson +1300
- Luke Fickell +1500
- Todd Monken +1800
- Dan Quinn +2000
The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every FBS college football game 10,000 times. Over the past five-plus years, the proprietary computer model has generated a stunning profit of almost $3,700 for $100 players on its top-rated college football picks against the spread. It also enters Week 13 of the 2021 season on a 39-25 run on all top-rated college football side picks. Anyone who has followed it has seen HUGE returns.