GAINEVILLE -- Will Muschamp -- Florida’s supposed prodigal son -- was fired resigned Sunday, effective at the end of the regular season.
Esteemed athletics director Jeremy Foley will open a search immediately, tacitly pursuing candidates under radio silence.
Florida is a Top 5 job -- rich athletic department, fertile recruiting base, solid roster foundation -- but the program’s systemic issues -- average facilities, substandard support staff, fickle fan base -- are real.
Unless Bob Stoops up and leaves Oklahoma, Foley isn’t hiring a defensive coach.
The Gators will target an experienced, offensive-minded coach, one that hopefully has Southeast ties and a solid recruiting background.
But the search to fill Muschamp’s vacancy won’t be easy. A potential list of who’s who candidates can be crossed off from the start.
Steve Spurrier, Dan Quinn, Charlie Strong, Art Briles, James Franklin, Gus Malzahn, Kevin Sumlin and Chad Morris will not be Florida’s next head coach.
Pipe-dream hires such as Chip Kelly or Jim Harbaugh are also unlikely, and thus, Foley’s job is extremely difficult.
Intriguing options remain, but few offer a perfect fit for UF.
Florida is sure to gauge the interest of Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze, Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez, Arizona State’s Todd Graham, UCLA’s Jim Mora and Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy.
Notably absent: Dan Mullen. Mississippi State’s coach is probably the hottest candidate on the market, but the former UF offensive coordinator reportedly has a sour relationship with Foley and may not even receive as much as a phone call.
Long-shots options include Colorado State’s Jim McElwain, Mike Shanahan or TCU’s Gary Patterson.
In the end, plenty of coaches will receive raises thanks to Florida’s interest, but make no mistake, Foley is under immense pressure to hit a home run.
The real question: Is there one out there?
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