Gators fire Dan Mullen

Before the end of his fourth season at the helm, Dan Mullen is out as Florida's head football coach.

It’s over.

The Dan Mullen Era at Florida took its knockout punch in overtime last night in Columbia, MO., where Missouri captured a 24-23 win on a successful two-point conversion. The Tigers won outright as nine-point underdogs and cashed money-line tickets in the +270 neighborhood.

ESPN’s Chris Lowe and On3’s Matt Zenitz reported the news via their Twitter accounts at 12:09 p.m. Eastern.

I chronicled what’s gone wrong during Mullen’s tenure over the last 11 months when he finally fired defensive coordinator Todd Grantham two weeks ago.

The Gators are 2-9 in their last 11 games against Power-Five opponents. They’re 1-4 straight up and 0-5 against the spread in their last five games, with the lone victory coming over over an FCS school, Samford, which led at UF at halftime.

Mullen’s fourth team at UF has produced more yards than 10 of its 11 opponents. However, critical mistakes like interceptions and special-teams blunders have led to six defeats.

Assistant Greg Knox will reportedly take over as interim head coach. Florida closes the regular season Saturday vs. FSU at The Swamp. Both teams need a win to become bowl eligible.

Circa and DraftKings both have UF listed as a one-point home favorite vs. the Seminoles, who have won back-to-back games vs. Miami and at Boston College. DraftKings had the Gators as 10-point favorites in the look-ahead line that was released this past Wednesday.

Potential candidates to replace Mullen will likely include Ole Miss HC Lane Kiffin, former Oklahoma HC and UF defensive coordinator (from 1996-98) Bob Stoops, Cincinnati HC Luke Fickell and Oregon HC Mario Cristobal.

This is just a guess, but I believe Kiffin should be the No. 1 target. Since getting fired at USC, he’s turned his career around thanks to three wildly-successful years as offensive coordinator for Nick Saban at Alabama.

He parlayed that success into the Florida Atlantic gig, where he killed it for three seasons with a pair of 11-win seasons and two Conference USA championships. Kiffin has been fantastic at Ole Miss over the last two years.

Would he leave Oxford for Gainesville? I think so, although it’s far from a given.

Ole Miss isn’t broke and I’m sure it’ll try to match any offer Kiffin gets whether it’s from LSU, UF or another school.

There’s also the Anthony Richardson Factor. The second-year quarterback with three years of eligibilty remaing has unlimited talent in terms of size, arm strength and speed. All of those traits were on full display when he led UF on four consecutive touchdown drives in the second half of a 49-42 loss at LSU.

There’s also the fact that Kiffin’s star QB Matt Corral just announced earlier this week that he’s headed for the 2022 NFL Draft after this season.

As a UF alum, I don’t want Cristobal on general principalities. He grew up in South Florida, played for the Miami Hurricanes and then was an assistant at UM for many years. Cristobal is a ‘Cane, not a Gator.

I don’t know that Fickell is going to be in play for any schools because Cincinnati might be on its way to the College Football Playoff. That would have his team playing into January and past National Signing Day.

Stoops has already turned down UF twice, but that was when he had a great job at Oklahoma. He’s 61 and currently out of coaching, but there’s still gas left in that tank.

Other names you might hear mentioned include Baylor’s Dave Aranda, Louisiana’s Billy Napier, Michigan St.’s Mel Tucker and Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who served as UF’s DC for one season on Will Muschamp’s staff.

With USC and LSU also conducting coaching searches, three of the nation’s Top-10 jobs are available. Other quality openings include Washington, Va. Tech and TCU. Washington St. is another Power-Five gig that’s open.

Jobs that might open in the next week or two include Ole Miss, Penn St., West Virginia, Miami, Syracuse, Ga. Tech and Arizona St.

Florida AD Scott Stricklin scheduled a presser for 3:00 p.m. Eastern today in Gainesville.

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