A few final points to think about on Wednesday night…
* While various reports from Mississippi and Florida say Dan Mullen has already received an offer to replace Urban Meyer, Jeremy Foley suggests that’s not so. The Florida AD said today that he hasn’t contacted anyone yet and that he hopes to have his search completed in “two, two-and-a-half weeks.”
* Brandon Marcello of The Jackson Clarion-Ledger has tweeted that he “asked Dan Mullen via text (between 6 and 7pm ET) if he’s happy and committed at Mississippi State. ’Absolutely,’ he responded.”
* Mullen also said kind words about Meyer.
* Meanwhile, Meyer said that this year’s decision was “completely different” from last year’s decision to step down. ”I have not seen my two girls play high school sports. I can’t get that time back.” (One has to wonder — as Sandra Golden of CSS’ “SportsNite” speculated earlier this evening — if the wall-to-wall news coverage of Elizabeth Edwards’ death yesterday prompted Meyer to re-think his own priorities.)
* Interestingly, Foley said that he doesn’t feel guilty for talking Meyer out of his retirement last year. ”He’s at peace with his life. He wasn’t at peace a year ago, and this institution helped him get there.” Actually, it sounds like giving up football helped him get there.
* Everyone from Frank Beamer to Erin Andrews weighed in on Meyer’s departure.
* Florida recruits were shocked by the news.
* Pat Dooley of The Gainesville Sun suggests that Meyer might have hurt his legacy a little by coming back for one last season, but it’s still a darn good legacy.
* Pat Forde of ESPN isn’t completely buying what Meyer was selling at his press conference this evening.
* MrSEC.com’s ranking of the potential replacements (in terms of likelihood) goes like this:
1. Dan Mullen — Knows the administration. Knows the program. Knows the offense. Knows some of the current players. Has recruiting ties in the state. He provides the smoothest transition possible.
2. Kyle Whittingham — Has kept Utah in the polls and whipped Alabama in the Sugar Bowl two years ago. Also keep in mind that UF president Bernie Machen also came from Utah.
3. Chris Peterson — Has a track record of success at Boise State. Took over a solid program from Dan Hawkins and has actually built it up further.
4. Charlie Strong — The Co-Coach of the Year in the Big East. Strong is Mullen’s equal in all ways but two: he only has one year of head coaching experience and he’s a defensive guy, not an offensive guy.
5. The Field — Lotta longshots when it comes to the Stoops and Grudens of the world. Gruden’s an NFL guy. Stoops will see his Big 12 path to a BCS bid get even easier with Nebraska and the league’s championship game going bye-bye.
* Foley gets tons of credit for being the best AD in the country but let’s remember his budget. With Florida’s money (and recruiting base), he has a whole lot to sell to prospective coaches. Still, this man is now one for two in hiring football coaches. Ron Zook was no Urban Meyer. The Florida job is so good that it’s hard to imagine someone being a bad hire. But bad hires are out there. The pressure’s on Foley to avoid them.
* It’s only a matter of time before a few conspiracy theories start popping up out there:
1. Meyer is leaving for a job with the Denver Broncos or Dallas Cowboys. (Not buying it. Does Meyer look like he wants to coach anytime soon?)
2. Meyer is getting out of Gainesville before the Cam Newton mess — including the leaked academic fraud — traces back to him. (Not buying it. Even if he leaves, the media, the NCAA and the FBI aren’t going to stop digging for dirt on Newton… regardless of where it leads.)
3. Meyer is quitting because he has bigger health concerns than he’s letting on. (Unlikely. He was open about his esophageal spasms when doctors gave him a diagnosis last spring. If he says this has more to do with family than with his health, I’ll believe him.)
4. Meyer is quitting because the losses and the Newton controversy took a big toll on him. (This one I’ll buy. ’Cause it’s really not that far-fetched. Sure the coach might want to spend time with his family, but getting your brains kicked in by South Carolina and Florida State can do that to you. And the Newton story is a biggie. In addition to being second-guessed about his team and his staff, Meyer was also questioned about letting Newton leave.)