Mullen on taking the Mississippi State job:
“I was thrilled. I’m so excited to be here, it’s an unbelievable opportunity,” Mullen said to a dozen or so reporters. “I think we have an opportunity to have an unbelievable program. We’re going to get on the road recruiting right away, get those players in here from the state. We’re going to try to control this state in recruiting as best we can right now and get it cranked up and put a great team on the field next year.”
Mullen said he wasn’t sure about whether he would stay with Florida in its preparation for the BCS National Championship Game. “We’re going to have to work that out,” he said. “That’s something we’re going to decide somewhere later down the road.”
There is a press conference scheduled for this morning to introduce him officially as the head coach, and from the sounds of it he won’t know by then if he’s going to coach in the bowl game or not.
With the way Urban Meyer handled the transition from Utah to Florida while still coaching the Utes in their Fiesta Bowl trip, I’d say this will not affect the team as dramatically as some are predicting. The offense is already very much a collaborative effort among the offensive staff, and it’s worth remembering that Meyer is the guy with the vision behind the scheme in the first place.
Meanwhile, the many Gator message boards are abuzz with suggestions for moving forward. Some want Mike Sanford, Meyer’s offensive coordinator at Utah, to return to his former boss and run the offense.
Two problems with that. One: Sanford is the head coach at UNLV, and it’s unlikely he’d take a step down in title right as it’s looking like he has the Rebels moving forward. Two: he signed an extension two days ago. Florida undoubtedly could afford to buy him out and pay more than his current salary, but would he do it and is it worth it? Probably no on both counts.
The general consensus among those who think they know is that wide receivers coach Billy Gonzalez will likely become the new offensive coordinator. He is another guy who followed Meyer from Bowling Green to Utah to Florida, and wide receiver play has been generally excellent under his watch.
He already is in charge of red zone offense, so it seems like the natural fit. If you believe in patterns, it would also mean in four years he’ll be getting a head coaching job. In Meyer’s fourth year as a head coach, Sanford took the UNLV job; at the end of Meyer’s eighth, Mullen is off to Starkvegas.
There still is a matter of a quarterbacks coach. Mullen had that job on top of being the coordinator, and no one seems to think Gonzalez will slip into that dual role. The armchair ADs of the Internet seem to favor hiring Kerwin Bell to fill that job.
That Kerwin Bell. Also: this highlight’s for you, Dad.
Bell is currently the head coach at Jacksonville University, where he has turned them around from a three game winner last season to a nine game winner and Pioneer League champs this season. He was conference coach of the year and is a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award, the coach of the year award for I-AA (the winner of which announced on December 18).
That seems like a bit of a stretch. I can’t think of too many head coaches at the I-AA level who have gone on to become solely position coaches in I-A. I know of head coaches who become coordinators, like former Richmond head coach Dave Clawson who became Tennessee’s offensive coordinator. Not so many have become position coaches.
If Bell waits another couple of years and continues to succeed at Jacksonville, someone will make him a coordinator. I don’t know if the allure of going to his alma mater is enough to make him give up the keys to his own program to wait for Gonzalez to get a head coaching job somewhere, but there are worse guys to learn under than Meyer while you wait.
However, it seems impossible to me that a Robinson Award winner would leave to become just a position coach. If Bell takes home that hardware, forget about it.