The Monday After: Florida needs to go after Dan Mullen this time around

Florida is the first high-profile job to come open this silly season after the school announced on Sunday it mutually decided to part ways with Jim McElwain. How mutual the decision indeed was, I don't know, but it doesn't matter. The important thing for Florida is that it has a chance to start over yet again, and this time new athletic director Scott Stricklin needs to avoid the mistake his predecessor repeatedly made.

Florida needs to hire Dan Mullen.

It's had the chance to do so quite a few times. When Urban Meyer decided he needed to spend time (a year) with his family following the 2010 season, Mullen's name came up as a potential replacement. While he'd had plenty of success at Florida as an offensive coordinator under Meyer, helping win two national titles, apparently he hadn't done enough to earn the job in the eyes of then-athletic director Jeremy Foley. Mullen had gone 5-7 in his first season at Mississippi State, and followed it up with a 9-4 campaign, finishing the year at No. 15 in the AP Top 25 and an appearance in the Gator Bowl. It was Mississippi State's first bowl appearance since 2007 and only its second since the start of the 21st century.

Instead of going after Mullen, Florida hired Will Muschamp, then the Texas coach-in-waiting. Rumors swirled that part of the reason Florida didn't hire Mullen was bad blood between Foley and Mullen. Depending on who you asked, it was either because Mullen's personality rubbed people inside the administration the wrong way, or that Mullen wasn't happy with comments Foley made after he left Florida for the Mississippi State job.

Well, obviously, the Muschamp hire didn't work out. So when the school moved on from Muschamp in 2014, Mullen seemed like a logical choice, but it didn't happen again. In fact, not long after Florida announced its decision to fire Muschamp, word broke out that it wouldn't even consider hiring Dan Mullen (or Rich Rodriguez, for that matter) to replace him. Keep in mind this was in 2014 when Mullen's Mississippi State team found its way to No. 1 in the College Football Playoff Rankings and finished the season 10-3 with an appearance in the Orange Bowl.

Mullen, in his sixth season, had taken Mississippi State -- Mississippi State! -- to its first Orange Bowl since 1941 and had developed a star quarterback in Dak Prescott, but Foley wouldn't even consider him for the job ... even after watching  Muschamp run an offense that was the equivalent of ramming a concrete wall with your head.

So, instead of Mullen, Florida hired Jim McElwain. He was going to be the offensive guru to bring the Gators back to glory, but that's not what happened. In fact, McElwain's Florida teams managed to score fewer points per game (23.09) during his tenure than Muschamp's did (25.28). Meanwhile, while McElwain was at Florida, Mullen's Mississippi State team went 21-13, sent Dak Prescott to the NFL, and Mullen developed another quarterback in Nick Fitzgerald even though the entire world -- myself included -- figured he'd have trouble replacing Prescott.

Now, Florida finds itself with a third chance to hire Mullen, and it really can't afford to blow it again.

I don't think Mullen gets enough credit for what he's accomplished at Mississippi State. Many would tell you that it's the least desirable job in the most challenging division in college football, and Mullen's had unprecedented success at the school anyway. He's even done it during an era when Mississippi State's chief rival, Ole Miss, was having a terrific run -- even if it was on college football's version of PEDs -- of its own.

Think of everything that Florida is looking for in its next head coach and try to find the box that Mullen doesn't check. He's an experienced coach, and yet he's still only 45. He has plenty of experience at Florida and knows the landscape. He develops quarterbacks. He puts together an offense that can score 30 points or more per game.

He has a pre-existing relationship with the AD, as Scott Stricklin spent years working alongside him in that same role at Mississippi State.

It just makes too much sense for Florida to make this move, and if Stricklin knows what's best for him and his new program, he won't allow himself to make the same mistake his predecessor repeatedly did.

Hot Seat of the Week

I'm not going with a coach this week, but instead, I'm going with Tennessee athletic director John Currie. To be clear, this isn't the same kind of hot seat we normally discuss when it comes to a coach. Currie isn't about to lose his job, nor should he. He just got to Knoxville after all.

No, the reason I'm putting him on here, though, is I can't figure out what the hell he's waiting for at Tennessee. I mean, back in August, nobody in their right mind thought Florida would fire Jim McElwain before Tennessee axed Butch Jones. Hell, nobody thought that two weeks ago, yet here we are.

And after Tennessee allowed Kentucky to score with 33 seconds left on Saturday to get a 29-26 win and drop the Vols to 0-5 in the SEC this season, I thought I was going to wake up to the news of Jones' dismissal on Sunday morning.

Instead, nothing.

Now Tennessee is behind the curve as Florida -- a more attractive job within its own division -- is already on the market looking for a new coach, and Tennessee is just spinning its tires. I don't get it. What the hell could Butch Jones do at this point to save his job? Just rip the bandage off and move on, John.

Angry Coach of the Week

This award goes to Dartmouth defensive quality control coach Dion King, who became so angry during Dartmouth's 25-22 loss to Harvard on Saturday that he punched a window in the Harvard press box, breaking it and sending shards of glass into the seats below. Who says Ivy League football isn't intense?

Khalil Tate Highlight of the Week

I've decided I don't want to live in a world without Khalil Tate highlights at this point. It's honestly getting ridiculous what this kid is doing on a weekly basis. After minimal playing time in September due to an injury, Tate has lit the world on fire over the last month. In October alone, Tate rushed for 840 yards (14.24 yards per carry!) and eight touchdowns. The 840 yards would rank 20th nationally for the entire season, but with his September yardage, Tate's at 926 on the year, which has him 13th. He's averaging 13.42 yards per carry, which is 3.15 yards per carry more than Bryce Love. He's essentially played himself into the Heisman conversation despite missing most of the season's first month.

Celebration of the Week

As you would expect to be the case, Iowa State fans celebrated after the Cyclones beat TCU on Saturday. By knocking off the Horned Frogs, Iowa State became the first program to beat two top five teams before November since Florida did it in 2005. And when you make history like that, and you're in a town like Ames where your options are limited, there's only one way to celebrate. Eat the local Taco Bell out of food. That's living the good life.

Random Ranking of the Week

OK, so the ranking is not so random this week. Top five food items on the Taco Bell menu!

  1. Beef Chalupa Supreme
  2. Crunchwrap Supreme
  3. XXL Grilled Stuft Burrito
  4. Cheesy Gordita Crunch
  5. Nachos BellGrande

Crossfit Moment of the Week

This is something they make you do in Crossfit, right? I've never actually done Crossfit, but based on what everybody I know who does has told me, this sounds like something they'd make you do in Crossfit. Do you think Rashaad Penny does Crossfit? Well, if he does, he's probably told you all about it.

Backflip of the Week

UMass kicker Logan Laurent demonstrated to the world something that all kickers should do after kicking a field goal. In fact, there should be a rule that if a kicker successfully completes a backflip before the ball passes through the uprights, the field goal is then worth four points. It would make the play -- and some games -- more exciting. I bet they do it in Crossfit.

AP Voter of the Week

I don't have any major complaints about any ballots from this week's AP Top 25 because I empathize with all the voters. In a week where two top five teams go down, it's hard to put your ballot together because there are so many good teams to choose from. With that being said, there was something I saw that had me scratching my head.

Jeff Miller of the Orange County Register turned in a ballot that's pretty tame overall but confused me quite a bit as Miller had Wisconsin at No. 2 and Georgia at No. 3. Now, if you want to put Wisconsin at No. 3 on your ballot, I wouldn't agree with you, but at least you have an argument to make. It's undefeated, after all. But how do you put Wisconsin ahead of Georgia at this point? The Bulldogs are 8-0 and have won their games by an average of 26.25 points per game. The Badgers are also 8-0 and have won their games by an average of 22.13 points per game.

Georgia has wins over Notre Dame (No. 5 on Miller's ballot) and Mississippi State (No. 20). Wisconsin has wins over nobody on Miller's ballot. In fact, if you try to figure out what Wisconsin's most impressive win this season is, it's either 5-3 Northwestern or 5-3 FAU. So I'm dying to hear Miller's reasoning for putting the Badgers ahead of the Bulldogs here.

College Football Playoff Projection of the Week

OK, so the actual CFP Rankings will be released for the first time this season on Tuesday night, and this week is probably the most difficult week to come up with a top four. Both Penn State and TCU losing threw a wrench in the gears, but if I had to make an educated guess, this is what I believe the first top four of the 2017 season will look like on Tuesday night. Remember, the committee tends to care about your wins more than your losses.

1. Alabama
2. Georgia
3. Notre Dame
4. Ohio State

Until the next Monday After!

CBS Sports Writer

Tom Fornelli has been a college football writer at CBS Sports since 2010. During his time at CBS, Tom has proven time and again that he hates your favorite team and thinks your rival is a paragon of football... Full Bio

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