Current Position: Head Coach at Navy
Pros: If there's one thing Coach Niumatalolo is, it's serious. He's exactly the kind of guy you'd imagine would be the head coach of a football team represented by a nation's naval forces. He gets angry, he looks mad, and he is all business. For a team that has had its streaks of listlessness over the past few years, like Florida has, to get a taskmaster like Niumatalolo on board would ensure that every player, no matter how many stars they got on Rivals, is ready to play hard and hold nothing back. While at Navy, both as an OC and head coach, Niumatalolo has lead the team to ten bowls in eleven years, incredible success for a team that had only been to nine bowls in its entire existence prior.
Cons: Niumatalolo has been operating Navy's offense since 2002, having started as the offensive coordinator. While his triple option attack has lead to Navy having one of the strongest run games in all of college football, it's no secret that major programs are still a little gun-shy. Even at Florida, where Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin reigned supreme and kept defenses on their toes, it's hard to imagine the old-timers allowing a full dedication to the tri-op. Of even greater concern is Niumatalolo's recruiting pedigree. As in, he doesn't really have any. The guys who play at Navy have football as their hobby, with the Navy being their career. Who knows what Niumatalolo can do on the recruiting trail? He's an absolute unknown in that area, but with his personality, there's no doubt the players he does recruit will play hard for him. He's a serious man, and Florida wants to be a serious contender once again. It could be a good match.
Current Position: Color Commentator, Monday Night Football
Pros: "I used to love football, Mike." The second I heard these words uttered by Jon Gruden on an otherwise unmemorable Monday night, I knew this man had to coach again. This is like putting a bengal tiger in a kennel, then forcing him to watch other tigers run around in the jungle, wild and free. Gruden's offensive intelligence and charisma alone are more than enough to envision success at a college program. Imagine the stud QBs he'd recruit! We're talking about a Super Bowl-winning head coach coming to coach a program with a tremendous legacy in the toughest conference in all of college football. The guy would immediately vaunt Florida right back into the national title picture... or at least would make for some great Twitter fodder.
Cons: Okay, about that Twitter fodder. Look, this is obviously a very high-risk, high-reward scenario for Gruden. Why come back for anything but to do some legacy padding and earn the kind of paycheck he's already earning at ESPN? He won a Super Bowl! Most head coaches, in either the pro or college ranks, consider that the holy grail, and Jon Gruden has drank from that cup. The other issue here is just how long Gruden has been away from coaching. I don't think there's ever been a successful coach, in any sport, who has transitioned from coaching to TV work to coaching again with any level of real success. You spend too much time watching the game, you forget how it feels in the heat of the moment, and how to react on the fly. Gruden's better than most, and he's a wizard at predicting what plays teams are going to go with. I love watching him on Monday nights, and I think it might be best if he stayed there.
Also, while he's known to be enough of a quarterback guru to have his own show where he talks to quarterbacks and watches their film, he's not exactly a wizard with young QBs. In all of his years at Tampa, he only drafted one QB ahead of the sixth round (Chris Simms), and never really succeeded in developing young talent under center. Florida has already had one head coach who messed too much with young QBs' heads *cough* SPURRIER *cough* and I doubt that's a trend they're looking to revive.
Current Position: Head Coach at Utah
Pros: Proven and consistent success. That's what Kyle Whittingham brings to the table. With an 82-43 record at Utah, including a 7-1 bowl record, Whittingham has proven you can have success with a non-legacy program without having to turn to gimmicky playbooks or really cool uniforms to help in recruiting. Whittingham's Utah team is as balanced as they come, and regularly trade wins with the premier programs in the Pac-12, like UCLA, USC, and Stanford (though they have yet to get over the dreaded hump that is Oregon. Florida needs someone who has proven to be a consistent winner at a high level as a head coach, and Wittingham is the man. Also, he led the Utes to a 13-0 record in 2008, finishing second in the nation. The first place team? The 13-1 Florida Gators, coached by Urban Meyer... who previously coached at Utah. ILLUMINATI!
Cons: It's not like Whittingham's road has been without bumps. The Utes have only been in the Pac-12 for less than four full years, and the team has gone 5-7 in the past two seasons. Now, obviously the team has bounced back in a big way, and those seasons were not without their signature wins. Florida, however, is not a program that can survive any more bumpy roads. The Gators need to bounce back in a big way in 2015, and that means winning. Real winning. Not 7-5. Not 8-4. We're talking playing in the SEC Championship. We're talking a top three finish in the SEC. We're talking making people afraid to play the Gators again. As much as I am obligated to root against Florida, them being division rivals and all, football is better when Florida is good. We need cartoonish evil mastermind villains, like Nick Saban's Alabama teams, as opposed to real villains, like Florida State's protection of possible rapist Jameis Winston and other less-than-reputable players. If Whittingham is going to coach Florida, both he and the program will have to hit the ground running, all the way into the endzone.