Florida Gators targets Dan Mullen as next head coach, per AP sources

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Dan Mullen has been targeted to be the next head coach at Florida, according to sources with direct knowledge of the situation.

ESPN's Chris Low is reporting that Florida is finishing up the deal. Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin, who was Mullen's former boss at MSU, knows enough about him from hands-on experience to decide whether he's a good fit.

Mullen is most known for developing quarterbacks. Stricklin was Mississippi State's athletic director for seven of those years. He'll replace Jim McElwain, who was sacked during the season, weeks before UF played at Williams-Brice.

Mullen left Gainesville for Starkville for his first head coaching job following the 2009 season. During that span, Mullen also worked with eventual Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Tim Tebow at Florida.

Florida just completed an absolutely miserable season in which it went 4-7. After Kelly chose UCLA, Stricklin reportedly planned to target UCF's Scott Frost.

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Mullen made the most sense in the days after McElwain's October 29 ouster, but he was an unpopular candidate to many in Gator Nation who sought a splash hire.

In 9 years at Mississippi State, the Bulldogs have reached new heights: 8 straight bowl appearances, reaching #1 in the polls in 2014, playing in the Orange Bowl, recruiting and developing National Football League talent like Dak Prescott, Fletcher Cox, and Chris Jones.

When the UF job opened up following Will Muschamp's 2014 firing, former Gators AD Jeremy Foley immediately ruled out Mullen and Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez as candidates.

No doubt, Florida fans will have a mixed reaction if Mullen ends up being the successor to Jim McElwain.