The Florida Gators announced the removal of head coach Dan Mullen from the staff on Sunday, meaning the search is now on for someone to take his place in The Swamp.
The firing was quick, but not too shocking. After leading the Gators to three New Year's Six bowl appearances in his first three seasons, Mullen caused the program to crash and burn. His team is 5-6 on the season, including 2-6 in SEC play, and are close to being bowl-ineligible. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and offensive line coach John Hevesy were also fired by the university a few weeks ago.
Although no serious contenders for the replacement have been named, there are plenty of rumors flying around about who the next Florida head coach will be. Here are three who stand out as the most likely to take the job... even if it is on a whim.
Lane Kiffin, Ole Miss HC
Kiffin joined the Ole Miss staff two years ago and has made vast improvements to the team. His Rebels are currently No. 8 in the AP Top 25 and are projected to make an appearance in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1st. But if there's one thing that's true about Kiffin, it's that he's always looking for the next thing. With star quarterback Matt Corral and a handful of other players likely leaving for the draft this season, Ole Miss will have to rebuild next season. Why would Kiffin stay there when he could go to Gainesville? The pay would likely be much better, and it would be a much better place to live. Plus, the Florida Gators are a renowned football school: something that Kiffin has worked hard to acquire.
Billy Napier, University of Louisiana-Lafayette HC
Napier has had a successful run at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. He was hired as the head coach of the Ragin' Cajuns in 2017 and has since posted a 38-12 record with the team and has even catapulted them into the AP Top 25. However, his beloved team is in the Sun Belt Conference. There's nothing wrong with that, but teams in smaller conferences typically don't get the recognition that they deserve. It makes sense that Napier would want to eventually move to a team in the Power Five, specifically the SEC. It is close to his home region, and the SEC has been considered the best of the best for years. He has been pursued by various teams for years, but Florida might be the perfect place for him to get his start.
Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma HC
This one's a long shot, but it is definitely worth mentioning. Oklahoma entered the season as a favorite to make it to the college football playoffs. Now, his Sooners sit at No. 10 in the CFP rankings and have virtually no chance of making it to anything better than a New Year's Six Bowl. It seems like every season, the team has high hopes and gets let down. Why wouldn't Riley want to give Florida a chance? It's an SEC school with a history of success, and if he is as good as others claim he is, then surely he would want the chance to clean the program up from the mess that Mullen has left it in. He might have the good life at Oklahoma now, but if Florida comes calling, there is no doubt in my mind that he will leave without a second thought.