GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Welcome to Day 2 of the post-Urban Florida coaching search. This time it's for real. We think.
Florida AD Jeremy Foley says he'd like to have someone hired in 2-2 1/2 weeks. He also says he hasn't contacted any candidates. Of course, he hasn't. That's not the way searches work. Coaches who want to remain anonymous can keep on the down low by speaking to a third party. You can bet some influential Gators have been burning up the phone lines talking to candidates already -- probably some of these candidates.
Here's my list in descending order of probability...
Bobby Petrino, Arkansas: You know Petrino would come. Moss is practically growing on him by now in Fayetteville. If he does leave, the Hogs cannot whine at all. You knew (or should have known) what you were getting into when you hired this guy.
It would be a good get for Foley, but for how long?
Kyle Whittingham, Utah: Hire back-to-back Utah coaches? Why not? This is the perfect job at the perfect time for Whittingham. Meyer's former defensive coordinator with the Utes kept the momentum going after his boss left for Florida.
The biggest drawback: Whit is an accomplished head coach already headed to a BCS conference (Pac-12). He could take a bigger step going to the SEC. If they hired him, the Gators would play defense, I guarantee you that.
Dan Mullen, Mississippi State: This is almost too easy. Florida has to call him and Mullen has to accept to get out of StarkVegas after two seasons. Florida's offense hasn't been the same since the former Gators offensive coordinator left.
Here's what bothers me: Mullen isn't exactly known as an aggressive recruiter. His record in two seasons with the Bulldogs is still only 13-11. On the plus side: Steve Spurrier didn't enjoy recruiting either and he did all right. Mullen would unite the Gator Nation, although whoever gets hired is going to be the guy to follow the guy. Never a good thing in the coaching profession. You know what happened here the last time a coaching icon left.
Kevin Sumlin, Houston: Foley loves him.
Jon Gruden, NFL analyst: This is getting tiring. Gruden's name will come up. It will gain momentum and he won't get the job. Unless they've absolutely fallen in love with him, ADs are wise to his act. Gruden wants to alert NFL GMs and owners that he is available. That's what the whole Miami thing was about.
Chip Kelly, Oregon: If his team wasn’t playing for the national championship I bet he'd more than listen. The timing, though, is a deal breaker. Kelly wouldn't leave until after the BCS title game (Jan. 10) and Florida sure wouldn't wait that long.
Bob Stoops, Oklahoma: There will be some sentiment for Spurrier's former defensive coordinator to come "home". Insiders know that Stoopsie is perfectly happy in Norman, loves his AD (Joe Castiglione) and can continue to compete for Big 12 and national championships each year. Sorry, Gators.
Chris Petersen, Boise State: As much as I like Pete, he wouldn't last three minutes in Florida's media fish bowl. There's a reason he hasn't left yet. Petersen is completely comfortable at a place where he can win forever.
Larry Fedora, Southern Miss: Could be dark horse candidate.
Will Muschamp, Texas defensive coordinator: If this had happened a year ago -- wait a minute, it did -- Muschamp might have a better chance. Anyway, no matter where the fault lies Muschamp's star fell a little bit this season after Texas' horrid 2010. Muschamp, with an SEC pedigree, could be a fallback candidate if the search hits some snags.
Charlie Strong, Louisville: Florida's former D coordinator is a strong recruiter and great man. Florida needs a rock star. Charlie Strong is not a rock star.
Jim Harbaugh, Stanford: NFL first, Michigan second, Stanford third if neither of the first two open up. Florida isn't going to be option No. 4.
Steve Spurrier, South Carolina: Don't. Think. So.