Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Florida Gators’ 2021 season will be remembered as an embarrassment. A year that started with promises including a tough loss to Alabama Crimson Tide got out of hand in October and things only got worse. While Dan Mullen is safe for now, it’s time to start building a list of Florida training candidates.
The writing about Florida is on the wall. When Bruce Feldman and G. Allan Taylor of The Athletic spoke to coaches across the country, the Florida Gators’ problems were obvious. Mullen’s message is out of date, control of this program is lost, and even putting the blame on assistants by firing them hasn’t made a difference.
After a humiliating performance against Samford, a mediocre FCS schedule with losses to teams like the VMI Keydets and the Mercer Bears, it’s time for the boosters and the Florida sports department to prepare for the necessary changes the Gators desperately have. need. If all that wasn’t enough, Saturday’s overtime loss to Missouri should be the nail in Mullen’s proverbial coffin.
- Dan Mullen (Florida Gators) record: 34-15, 2-1 in boules
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some ideal candidates for the Florida Gators head coach.
Luke Fickell, Cincinnati Bearcats Head Coach
One of the top contenders for college football training, Luke Fickell made the Cincinnati Bearcats the closest thing the committee would consider for the college football playoffs. A former Ohio State nose guard, speaking about his demeanor and tenacity as a coach, Fickell arrived in Cincinnati in 2017 for his first head coaching position.
After a 4-8 season, necessary to eliminate the leftovers left by Tommy Tuberville, Fickell turned the tide. Cincinnati has a stellar 41-6 record since the 2018 season, going 2-1 in bowl games along the way. The Bearcats have been a springboard for many recognized names (Mark Dantonio, Brian Kelly) and Fickell could be the next big to emerge from this pipeline of head coaches.
- Acquisition of Luke Fickell: $ 3.5 million (2022), $ 3 million (2023)
More importantly, Fickelly brings the defensive spirit that Florida would benefit from adding. The Cincinnati defense ranks 15th for total yards allowed per game (322.8), 7th for yards per game (4.3) and allows for the second lowest passer rating (96.4) in the country. These numbers are no coincidence, given that the Bearcats placed fourth in the Alloy Passage standings (101.8) and 22nd in the Allowed YPAs (6.4) last year. When the BFC playoff committee excludes Cincinnati again, Fickell will start thinking about his future.
Mark Stoops, Head Coach, Kentucky Wildcats
It seemed impossible to make Kentucky a respectable football program, especially at a time when head coaches were tight on time. But the Wildcats were patient with Mark Stoops, confident the former Florida State defensive coordinator would make a mark on the program. After 12 total wins in the first three years (2013-’15), the Wildcats are now on the rise.
Kentucky recorded 7-6 straight seasons in 2016 and 2017, heading for back-to-back bowl games. Under Stoops, the Wildcats went 10-3 in 2018 and won the Citrus Bowl. This was followed by bowl wins in each of the next two years and the 2021 season was a success for the Wildcats.
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Stoops and the Wildcats defense held Florida to 13 points and a 30.7% conversion rate for third in a surprise win earlier this season. Even Mullens can admit that Stoops is the best coach. Stoops is familiar with recruiting in Florida (2001-2003 Miami Hurricanes defensive back coach, 2010-’12 Seminoles defensive coordinator) and has done his best to attract talent to a program that has struggled to attract best recruits. He won a bigger job and could achieve greatness in Florida.
Billy Napier, Head Coach, Louisiana Ragin ‘Cajuns
The Louisana Ragin ‘Cajuns know they have a great head coach, which is why they signed a contract extension with Billy Napier this year. But the Ragin ‘Cajuns will only keep it for that long, as it’s only a matter of time before a Power 5 program hits. It should be the Florida Gators.
Napier is very familiar with recruiting and coaching top programs. He worked in the coaching staff of Dabo Swinney (2009-’12), worked as an analyst under Nick Saban (2011) then returned to the Alabama Crimson Tide (2013-’16) as a coach wide receivers. Hired as head coach in 2018, the Ragin ‘Cajuns were 7-7 in their first season. Louisiana has since posted a 30-5 record.
As Pro Football Focus notes, the Louisiana offense entered the 2021 season with the second-highest number of expected points added (EPA) in the past two years. The Ragin Cajuns’ offense is averaging 425.7 yards and 30.8 points per game this season. Athletic’s Brody Miller detailed Napier’s rise and that explains why he might be the right guy for Florida.
Mike Elko, Defensive Coordinator, Texas A&M Aggies
Mike Elko is one of the best assistant coaches in college football. He’s been on the radar for various head coach vacancies for several years, but hasn’t found the right opportunity. When we look at his CV, we understand why many programs want to take a picture with him.
- Acquisition of Dan Mullen: Florida Gators owed $ 12 million
As Notre Dame’s 2017 defensive coordinator, the Fighting Irish kept their opponents under 370 total yards per game and gave up a 34.62% conversion rate on the third downs. He took over an Aggies unit that needed work and made it one of the best defenses in college football (317.8 yards / game overall, 14.7 points / game). In a 247 Sports Coaching Survey, he was considered one of the most ready assistants to become a head coach.
“Super competitive, super smart. He’ll be a great CEO, but he also understands that in recruiting and can cheat on anyone. “
College Football Coach on Texas A&M Defensive Coordinator Mike Elko, via 247 Sports
There is a risk in hiring an assistant without any head coaching experience. But if the Florida Gators pay Mullen’s buyout and the Boosters aren’t comfortable making a huge offer to his replacement and covering another buyout, Elko might be someone to target.