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Fennelly: With Jim McElwain out, here are coaches for Gators to consider

By Martin Fennelly
Jim McElwain takes questions during a news conference following Florida's loss to Georgia Saturday in Jacksonville. [MONICA HERNDON | Times]

Welcome to the show, Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin. Heís about to make the biggest hire of his life. He just oversaw the biggest firing of his life, the ousting of Jim McElwain and his unwatchable football.

Florida has jumped in the pool early. Iíd hate to think it did so without knowing exactly who it wanted.

Iíd be looking for offense, Iíd be looking for vision. Iíd be looking for someone with head coaching experience. Iíd be looking for the next big thing in the profession, someone young, or someone old who is beyond good.

RELATED: Jim McElwain out as Florida Gators head football coach

Iím talking to Steve Spurrier. No way Spurrier, 72, wants to coach again, but he first made Florida football truly great, and his offenses changed the SEC. Iím leaning on him for ideas, more than McElwain ever did with the legend down the hall.

Iím talking to Bob Stoops. I think heís out mowing his lawn. The retired Oklahoma coach made a national championship defense at Florida and won another national title at OU. You canít not talk to a guy who won 190 games in 18 seasons just to make sure heís sure about stepping away.

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Now, letís get real.

Iím talking to Chip Kelly. Yes, Kelly had two bad turns in the NFL, and heís an ego and a control freak, and Florida just got through with McElwain. But Kelly was also an offensive mindblower at Oregon.

Iím talking to Randy Shannon, who was named Florida interim coach. Shannon has done a good job as Gators defensive coordinator, but flopped as a head coach at Miami. Still deserves an interview, out of courtesy if nothing else.

Iím talking to Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen. Mullen worked under Urban Meyer and with Timmy Tebow and coached up Dak Prescott at MSU. Thing is, Iím not sure Mullen, who left UF after the 2008 season, has a lot of friends left, or how well he worked with Stricklin when Stricklin was AD in Starkville. Iíd still talk to him.

Iím most definitely talking to Scott Frost. The head coach of undefeated UCF is this seasonís Tom Herman. Frost is only 42, coordinated the offense and Oregon and has made the Knights the top scoring team in the nation. UCF was 0-12 the season before Frost arrived. The Gators better hurry before Nebraska crashes the party.

Iím talking to USF coach Charlie Strong. Yes, at 57 heís older and heís about defense, he swung and missed at Texas and I still donít know why Charlie settled for that field goal against Houston. But Iím talking to Charlie. Heíd love to come back to Gainesville.

Iím talking to second-year Iowa State coach Matt Campbell. He has things going in Ames, and has knocked off two top-5 teams, Oklahoma and TCU. Talk to him. Iím checking out Memphis head coach Mike Norvell. Iím talking to Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente. Give me young and bold.

If this was last year, I would have already hired P.J. Fleck away from Western Michigan. Minnesota did, and Fleck is only 1-4 in the Big Ten, but his energy is overwhelming. Iíd give Fleck a shout.

Iím checking in on the three Ls ó Lane Kiffin, Mike Leach and Les Miles ó if nothing else but for fun. Kiffin is a carpetbagger, but heíd bring thrills. Leach is crazed genius. The Hatter is a gas. Hey, who says a coaching search has to be boring?

Speaking of which, Iím talking to Jon Gruden. Yes, throw Chucky in there, since Tennessee is chasing him. Chucky to Gainesville? If Gruden returns, itís to the NFL.

Iím sure Florida has a much smaller list than this. Scott Frost might be at the top of it. The Gators better know who they want or why did they fire McElwain at this time?

Scott Stricklin, youíre on the clock.