With the Sunday morning news that the Florida Gators have mercifully terminated the contract of head coach Will Muschamp, the rumors are already swirling regarding Muschamp's replacement.
The program is still a desirable destination, despite what Muschamp has done to it in the last couple of seasons, and with a geographical and therefore recruiting advantage most programs don't have, the Gators will likely cast a wide net and hope to come up with a better answer than their previous head coach. If Florida looks to the NFL for answers, here are a few coaches who could be likely prospects.
Dan Quinn, defensive coordinator, Seattle Seahawks -- Quinn served as Florida's defensive coordinator in 2011 and '12 before returning to Seattle and running a defense that has put up some historic performances under his watch, and there's no doubt his name will be the most frequently mentioned among NFL coaches. Quinn is an excellent motivator, and his overall concepts would obviously fit well in the college game. After the Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVII, head coach Pete Carroll talked about the possibility that Quinn wasn't long for his staff -- Quinn was, in fact, looked at pretty heavily by several NFL teams with coaching vacancies last season.
"I'm thrilled that we can maintain great continuity," Carroll said in February. "We never know what’s going to happen at the combine. Stuff does happen and I appreciate again the opportunity. I think that Dan Quinn, coming into this situation, did an extraordinary job. He put his stamp on it, but he did it in really historic fashion. ... The response that he got from his players and the consistency and the buy-in from the staff -- all the guys did a great job."
At some point -- and it will be soon -- Carroll will have to deal with the inevitability that his defensive coordinator gets a head coaching job. Could this be the one?
Kyle Shanahan, offensive coordinator, Cleveland Browns -- If the Gators want to go with an offensive-minded head coach instead, why not the younger Shanahan, who did a great job with the Redskins' mobile passing game in 2012 and has helped the Browns challenge for first place in the AFC North? It would be a good hire from a schematic perspective, as Shanahan has proven to possess a deft touch with quarterback development, and Florida is a program in desperate need of that.
Teryl Austin, defensive coordinator, Detroit Lions -- Like Quinn, Austin is a former Gators defensive coordinator (2010) who once coached with Seattle and is now running a top defense. He's in his first year with the Lions, and Austin's coaching and leadership have led to a real sea change there. His recent success will have NFL teams looking his way sooner than later, but maybe a reunion could happen in Gainesville.
Nathaniel Hackett, offensive coordinator, Buffalo Bills -- Hackett has worked with a quick and efficient passing game under head coach Doug Marrone at Syracuse and with the Bills, and he worked as a recruiting coordinator with Stanford in 2005. Coordination isn't recruiting, but it's a step in the right direction, and Hackett is another name that might come up if the Gators are looking to swing in an offensive direction.
Jedd Fisch, offensive coordinator, Jacksonville Jaguars -- This might not go over too well in a state where people are more than familiar with the Jaguars' travails, but Fisch is respected as a motivator, he attended the university, and he worked there as a graduate assistant to Steve Spurrier.