By: Nick Hornburg Jim McElwain is now out at Florida, thanks to a perpetually inept offense, internal issues, an awkward press conference and an unfortunate result against Georgia in the World’s Largest Outdoor Curb-Stomping on Saturday. This is a very interesting development, as one of the biggest jobs in college football is now wide open, and I shall attempt to answer the question: Who should fill that void? Thus, here are five realistic (Chip Kelly is not realistic) candidates to be the next head coach at Florida: Scott Frost: Head Coach, Central Florida: 13-7 UCF, 13-7 Career Pros: One of the most prized, up-and-coming coaches in the sport. Runs a high-scoring offense. The Knights went 0-12 in George O’Leary’s final year, then went back to a bowl in Frost’s first season, and is now 7-0 and ranked in the top 15 in his second. The UCF job gives him experience coaching and recruiting in Florida. He’s the closest thing Florida will get to Chip Kelly (don’t even think about it). Cons: As of this writing, Frost’s head coaching experience spans a grand total of 20 games. Young enough to be an up-and-comer also means young enough for there to be questions about his readiness to handle a big program like Florida. An opening at his alma mater, Nebraska, might make him unattainable, or at least very expensive. Verdict: A lot of Gator fans would get very excited if Frost were hired, as his resume isn’t all that dissimilar to that of Urban Meyer in 2004. However, the inexperience is a concern; Meyer had coached more than 40 games across two different jobs before coming to Gainesville. Definitely worthy of being on Scott Stricklin’s shortlist, but not my first choice, and the way things shake out at Nebraska is a definite elephant in the room. Mike Norvell: Head Coach, Memphis: 15-6 Memphis, 15-6 Career Pros: Picked up where Justin Fuente left off at Memphis. Runs a high-scoring offense. Former ace offensive coordinator at Arizona State. Cons: Same level of (in)experience as Frost. Never worked in the Southeast. In order to accrue his services, one may have to fight off Tennessee. Verdict: There isn’t much to distinguish Norvell from Frost. Norvell is six years younger, but Fuente left him pieces to work with, while Frost has built his program from scratch. However, Norvell is tantalizing because if he could engineer so much as a healthy fraction of what Quarterback Riley Ferguson is doing at Memphis from the Gators quarterback position, he’d be a hero. Also a shortlist candidate, but there are better options out there. Kevin Sumlin: Head Coach, Texas A&M: 49-24 A&M, 84-41 Career Pros: Has consistently won games in one of the hardest divisions in college football. Talented offensive coach. Deserves credit for developing both Case Keenum and Johnny Manziel. Has more relevant experience than most potential candidates. Has experience in big jobs. Might be available this offseason. Cons: There’s a reason why he might be available in the offseason. Has consistently not won enough games. Seems to have hit his head on a ceiling at A&M. Experience in Texas does not always translate to experience in Florida, and vice-versa (more on that later). Verdict: A&M is a hard job, harder than Florida, and Sumlin has been their best coach since R.C. Slocum. However, it is not unfair to ask if Sumlin can take a team to that higher level at this point. Even with questions about his ceiling and the fit in Gainesville, if he gets fired by A&M in the offseason, Florida would be foolish not to at least gauge his interest, because his floor is high enough that it just might be worth gambling on his ceiling. Charlie Strong: Head Coach, South Florida: 7-1 USF, 60-38 Career Pros: Defensive Coordinator on Florida’s 2006 and 2008 national title teams. Recruits the state of Florida better than just about anybody. His last two years at Louisville were excellent (23-3). One of the most well-respected figures in football in the state of Florida. At every stop in his career, his players have been willing to jump in front of a train for him. Cons: His three seasons in charge of Texas actually did happen. He’s a defensive coach, not unlike Will Muschamp. He’s 57 years old, and not getting any younger. Head Coaches almost never leave after one season (Todd Graham notwithstanding). Didn’t handle the politics at Texas very well, and Florida is only marginally less political than Texas. Eerily similar to Will Muschamp/Brady Hoke. Verdict: He did lose to Kansas, but Charlie Strong is an exponentially better fit at Florida than he is at Texas. The questions about his offensive acumen can be answered very quickly were he to bring Sterlin Gilbert with him, which would already address the problem that dogged Muschamp and McElwain: offense. Strong has enough recruiting cache in the state of Florida to easily restore Urban Meyer-level dominance of in-state recruiting (which Strong helped establish originally, by the way). This, combined with the fact that he can, in fact, coach football (combined 44-16 at Louisville and South Florida), makes him one of the best candidates for the job that would have been his had Meyer not decided to stick around for the 2010 season. Still not the first call Stricklin should make, but there is a lot to like, in spite of what happened in Austin. At the very least, a safe hire with a surprisingly high ceiling. Dan Mullen: Head Coach, Mississippi State: 67-44 MSU, 67-44 Career Pros: Deserves full credit for development of Alex Smith, Chris Leak, Tim Tebow, Dak Prescott, and now Nick Fitzgerald. Offensive Coordinator on Florida’s 2006 and 2008 national title teams. Consistent winner in one of the hardest jobs in the Power Five. Has tons of relevant experience, despite being only 45 years old. Has a good relationship with Scott Stricklin. Cons: Certainly a good recruiter, but not quite on the level of Charlie Strong. Might be impossible to pry away from Mississippi State. Verdict: Dan Mullen should be the first phone call. Mullen is a mere 67-44 at Mississippi State, but considering the difficulty of the job, that’s the rough equivalent of going 90-21 just about anywhere else. Mullen has a better track record with quarterbacks (and therefore, offensive potential) than anybody not named Mike Leach, and he knows Florida well, and Florida is probably the job most likely to be able to lure him away from Mississippi State due to his time as coordinator in Gainesville. For these reasons, and the absurdity of the notion that Florida has a chance at some of the other names getting floated around, Dan Mullen is the best option for Florida. If they hire him, and he can surround himself with good recruiters, he gives Florida its highest likelihood of challenging the killing machine that Kirby Smart is assembling at Georgia. Now, maybe Mullen decides he likes Starkville (not unreasonable, he’s doing a fine job and the residents treat him like God) and decides not to leave, but there is absolutely no excuse for Florida to not at least try their damndest to get their best option.