It appears that Florida is putting in the groundwork to potentially make a run at former Oregon coach and current ESPN analyst Chip Kelly. According to a report from Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel, Florida has begun a "thorough vetting" process of Kelly.
We wrote the day after the firing that the three prime candidates for that position will be UCF's Scott Frost, Chip Kelly and Mississippi State's Dan Mullen. That trio still remains in focus, with sources indicating that a thorough vetting of Kelly has begun. That includes calls to NFL executives to do general background on Kelly and exploration of his NCAA issues at Oregon.
Now, this doesn't necessarily mean that Kelly is Florida's top choice, though it wouldn't be crazy if he is the ultimate call. Still, if Florida does want to pursue Kelly, it needs to take these steps now because of the SEC's policy about hiring coaches with past NCAA trouble. Kelly received a show-cause for violations at Oregon, so Florida would need SEC approval to hire him. So, if that's going to happen, it's best to vet him now. Also, unlike other targets on Florida's list, Kelly isn't coaching anywhere at the moment.
Gators athletic director Scott Stricklin previously made it clear he would not be interfering with seasons in progress, such as the other two schools Thamel mentioned, and it's hard to imagine Florida making a serious pursuit one of those coaches while they still have so much for which to play.
Unlike a lot of other schools that will have openings this winter, Florida can afford to wait because it's the most desirable job on the market. Coaches will wait to see if Florida is interested in them before moving on other opportunities.
As for Kelly and the possibility of him heading to Gainesville, there are other factors besides the NCAA troubles that could clog the pipelines. Kelly hasn't made a secret of the fact that he loves to coach football, but he's not a huge fan of a lot of the things that come with being a college football coach: the recruiting, the glad-handing, all of those extra-curricular activities one must take part in to do the job.
So you have to seriously wonder whether he'd be interested in a job with as high a profile as Florida and whether the Gators -- after vetting all of this out -- would make him a legitimate candidate. Should both parties wind up down the same road, Thamel notes that it would make sense for UF to announce such a union ahead of conference championship week to make it clear Kelly is its first choice.