Major college football coaching searches often have more plot twists than a box office thriller. As it turns out, the recently concluded Florida coaching search fits that description.
And thanks to the reporting of Gatorsports.com’s Pat Dooley, we now have a glimpse behind the curtain at some of those exciting twists and turns that led to Dan Mullen being the replacement for Jim McElwain in Gainesville.
While there’s really no replacing a thorough read of Dooley’s synopsis of the coaching search, which gives a glimpse into the mind of Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin, we’ll try to hit some of the highlights for you. It really is fascinating information.
- Appears to have wanted to hire Dan Mullen all along, but was uneasy about “poaching” him from Mississippi State, Stricklin’s alma mater and former employer).
- Reached out to Gators greats like Tim Tebow, Danny Wuerffel, Steve Spurrier and others to get their input on what type of coach needed to be the next leader of the Gators.
- Was initially crossed off the list of candidates due to his NCAA show-cause penalty, but reemerged after his agent reached out to the Gators to express interest.
- Stricklin visited Kelly in New Hampshire twice. The second visit, which received much publicity, was to allow Dr. Kent Fuchs to meet Kelly to sign off on a potential deal. There was no agreement after this meeting, signed or otherwise.
- Kelly called Florida several days before agreeing to coach at UCLA to tell them that the “fishbowl” atmosphere was not for him.
- Was considering a move to Tennessee after the Egg Bowl, which pressured Florida to get things done.
- Hammered out details with Stricklin through a series of conversations that began on Friday after the Egg Bowl and carried through Saturday night after the FSU game.
- Florida was afraid to wait for Frost to complete his season at UCF because it feared he would choose Nebraska. Ultimately, he did so.
- Florida had concerns that he only had two seasons of head coaching experience, and had not been a coach in the Power 5.
Mike Gundy (mystery candidate?)
- Though Mike Gundy was not named specifically in this discussion, a “mystery candidate” believe to be the Oklahoma State coach emerged late in the process.
- Stricklin did not feel as though the interest was genuine after phone conversations.