(1) Georgia
Sat, 12/4 on CBS @9:00 ET
(3) Alabama

Florida fallout: 3 ways Dan Mullen firing affects Georgia football, 3 quick candidates for the Gators

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COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA - Dan Mullen was fired from his post as the Florida football coach on Sunday. Mullen had the option of coaching the final game against Florida State, per AD Scott Stricklin, but he declined. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart is too busy drawing up plans to beat Alabama and Ohio State to pay too much mind to what happened in Gainesville on Sunday.

The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs had a lot to do with Florida coach Dan Mullen getting fired by taking over the SEC East Division and the recruiting trails.

On the field, Georgia will be appearing in the SEC Championship Game for the fourth time in the last five years, aiming to play Alabama at 4 p.m. on Dec. 4 before embarking on a second CFP trip in the past five seasons.

Off the field, the 2022 Class of recruits the Bulldogs are working on already includes three 5-star prospects and ranks No. 1 in the land. Florida, meanwhile, ranks 29th.

The Gators’ administration will be challenged to make a hire that all in the land of The Swamp can live with, Steve Spurrier’s legendary shadow still looming large.

Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin has said the process will take as long as necessary.

How it affects Georgia

Coaching Tree expands

Athletic directors will surely note the last three former Kirby Smart assistant coaches to get head coaching jobs have fared well: Mel Tucker, Sam Pittman and Shane Beamer.

Indeed, the complication to the coaching carousel for Georgia is that Smart will lose coaches that are ready to move on for bigger opportunities.

Defensive coordinator Dan Lanning is ripe for a head coaching job. With several UGA defensive players headed to the NFL, it’s hard to imagine Lanning not cashing in his hand after this season.

Lanning isn’t likely to get an SEC job, but he could be a prime candidate for whatever school loses its head coach to take the SEC job.

Offensive coordinator Todd Monken has been a college head coach and NFL offensive coordinator before. Monken has done a tremendous job this season and could be ready for greener pastures, as well, depending on what quarterback (s) he has to work with at Georgia next season.

UGA has experienced and talented assistants capable and ready for the bump to coordinator (co-coordinator?) duties: Matt Luke and Dell McGee on offense, and Will Muschamp Glenn Schumann on defense.

Of course, there’s also a shot Luke and Muschamp could recycle into the head coaching ranks. Luke would seem to be the more likely of the two to return to the head coaching ranks sooner than later.

Recruiting Gains

It’s at the very least a short-term win for Georgia and all of the other major programs that recruit the Sunshine State. It’s not like there’s much stability at Florida State or Miami, either.

Four of the current UGA commits play high school football in Florida, including the most recent, 5-star cornerback Jaheim Singletary from Jacksonville.

The lack of stability at Florida will be used against whoever the school hires next.

The Gators will be on their 7th head coach (10th counting interims) since Steve Spurrier left the program in 2001.

By contrast, Smart is the Bulldogs’ second head coach since 2001, which was the first season of Mark Richt’s 15-year tenure.

Kirby’s Big Pay Day

Smart is still working off a 2018 contract and is due for a restructured deal, and that makes him a winner in the coaching carousel with jobs at USC, LSU and Florida among the 14 FBS jobs that opened up (at the time of this publication, three have already been filled).

The Tigers’ and Gators’ hires, in particular, will set the bar for Smart’s new $100 million-plus salary.

RELATED: Kirby Smart, a $100 million man in the making

If Smart wins the national title, it would seem likely he will become the highest-paid coach in college football, and that number could be staggering.

3 Florida candidates out of the gate

The conventional hire

Louisiana coach Billy Napier, who turned down Mississippi State in 2019 and has been rumored for past openings at Missouri, South Carolina and Auburn, would seem to be the leading candidate out of the gate.

The splash hire

But the excitement and energy Lane Kiffin brings can not be ignored and would post the most immediate threat to Georgia. Kiffin has the higher ceiling, but also, the lower floor.

The dark horse hire

Pat Narduzzi came to Pitt as a defensive guru, building two Big Ten championship defenses at Michigan State working alongside former Nick Saban and Jim Tressel protege Mark Dantonio.

The seventh-year Panthers coach is 2-2 against Clemson — find another ACC coach that can say that — and has built an offense that ranks fifth in passing and scoring.

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