First of all, a word of caution.
You are entering a construction zone. Please wear a hard hat and protective goggles. You don’t want to get a reader’s comment in your eye or an unnamed source with knowledge of the situation landing upside your head.
This is a dangerous area we are heading into.
Look, is that (coach’s name here) walking into the Hunter’s Crossing Publix? My pastry chef told me that the wife of (coach’s name here) was looking at houses in Gainesville. Scott Stricklin had dinner with (coach’s name here) at Ballyhoo according to a source/saucier.
Aren’t coaching searches fun?
Stricklin, the UF athletic director, is going to do everything he can to keep this quiet until the big unveiling. Good luck with that unless you plan to communicate only through morse code and leave the agents out of it.
Things will get out and a lot of them will be fairy tales. But there will be morsels of truth that are mighty tasty.
Here’s what we know for sure — Florida will hire a coach and there is no frontrunner. When Stricklin said Sunday night he has “an idea” he was speaking more about who might be in the pool than who he will reach in to pull out.
Let’s hop in and stay in the shallow end for now. In alphabetical order while remembering Will Muschamp wasn’t on any early lists before he was hired at UF after the 2010 season:
Candidate Dino Babers
Fun factor: The Syracuse coach soared to national prominence when his team upset Clemson and took Miami to the wire. And offense (ranked 29th this season) is his specialty.
Party pooper: He’s 56 years old and hasn’t really been on the big stage as a head coach.
Candidate Jeff Brohm
Fun factor: Really good offensive coach who won 30 of 40 at Western Kentucky before getting Purdue job.
Party pooper: Purdue is 3-5 in his first foray into the Power Five and the offense is 82nd in the nation.
Candidate Neal Brown
Fun factor: The 37-year-old Troy coach recently beat LSU and has a working knowledge of the SEC. Plus, he’s one of the brightest coaches out there.
Party pooper: Does hiring the head coach from Troy really move the needle in Gainesville?
Candidate Matt Campbell
Fun factor: The guy has Iowa State — Iowa State! — in the Top 25 and has two huge upset wins already this season.
Party pooper: The buyout is more than $9 million and his recruiting wheelhouse is the Midwest.
Candidate Dave Clawson
Fun factor: He’s winning at Wake Forest, which might get him a statue. He also has won at Richmond and Bowling Green. And he’s a really good dude.
Party pooper: We can’t unsee his one year as Tennessee’s offensive coordinator.
Candidate Scott Frost
Fun factor: Frost took over an 0-12 team and had it undefeated two years later with an offense that leads the nation in scoring. Checks a lot of the personality boxes.
Party pooper: It’s a small sample size as a head coach and Nebraska, his alma mater, is likely to call.
Candidate Justin Fuente
Fun factor: Won big at Memphis after taking over a wreck of a program and is winning big at Virginia Tech.
Party pooper: His buyout is $6 million, $5 million after Dec. 15, and he’s already making SEC money ($3.2 a year).
Candidate Mike Gundy
Fun factor: Oklahoma State is third in the nation in passing offense and has an outside shot at the College Football Playoff. He has built a consistent winner.
Party pooper: The buyout is $13.8 million and Florida would have to waive its no-mullet rule (kidding).
Candidate Chip Kelly
Fun factor: Nobody has ever questioned his ability to coach offense and his Oregon teams were never boring to watch.
Party pooper: His NCAA show cause means Florida would have to convince the SEC’s commissioner that hiring him is a good idea. We won’t even get into the personality issues.
Candidate Lane Kiffin
Fun factor: You know what he did at Alabama and he’s killing it offensively at Florida Atlantic at 482.4 yards per game.
Party pooper: Come on.
Candidate Mike Leach
Fun factor: You want fun, the lover of pirates gives great news conferences and knows how to run an offense.
Party pooper: Florida is looking for a certain type of personality and while Leach has personality, a guy who once talked about his players and their “fat little girlfriends” is not a great fit.
Candidate Chad Morris
Fun factor: The SMU coach knows offense and his smashmouth spread has turned things around for the Mustangs.
Party pooper: His recruiting chops are in the state of Texas and he’s an A&M grad, which makes Kevin Sumlin nervous.
Candidate Dan Mullen
Fun factor: He knows Florida, knows how to develop quarterbacks and can take three-stars and make them play like five-stars.
Party pooper: Mullen’s bedside manner is not the best and Stricklin has an intimate knowledge of how difficult he can be to work with. His cause wasn’t helped when his wife, Megan, said publicly this summer that she was afraid to go grocery shopping in Gainesville if the Gators didn’t score in the 40s.
Candidate Mike Norvell
Fun factor: Has won 15 games in two years at Memphis and his offense is ranked 11th in the nation.
Party pooper: He’s another hot coach at a Group of Five school who hasn’t done it under the brightest spotlights.
Candidate Gary Patterson
Fun factor: The TCU coach is one of the best in the country and has turned the Horned Frogs into a contender. Plus, Steve Spurrier likes him.
Party pooper: There is no indication he wants to leave and he has a hefty buyout of $7.1 million.
Candidate Mark Stoops
Fun factor: He’s made Kentucky into a bowl team by building up the recruiting base. Hey, Bob Stoops isn’t getting back into coaching, but at least he’d come to some of the games.
Party pooper: Receivers left uncovered against Florida. Twice. That’s all you need to know.
Candidate Charlie Strong
Fun factor: Strong knows the culture, would fit right in and recruit the heck out of the state of Florida
Party pooper: His time at Texas is a big red flag whether it is fair or not.
Candidate Willie Taggart
Fun factor: A great offensive mind, the Oregon coach pulled USF out of a tailspin and he’s from Florida so he knows how to recruit here.
Party pooper: Taggart’s overall record as a head coach is 45-49.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at email@example.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.