Dino Babers was let go as Syracuse’s head coach after nearly eight seasons less than a week ago, and rumors are swirling as to who could be his replacement. John Wildhack spoke to the media on Monday and outlined his qualifications for candidates for the job and said that interest in the position has his phone ringing more than ever.
After that, The Fizz released an article detailing who all the possibilities could be for the job according to industry experts, but someone who did not appear on that list is gaining the most steam as someone who could be the favorite right now: former Mississippi State and Florida head coach Dan Mullen.
His resume is strong and he meets Wildhack’s qualifications of a northeast background as he was a graduate assistant at Syracuse in 1998 and grew up in Pennsylvania. Plus, his head coaching and coordinator experience in the SEC, arguably the best league in all of college football, make him an appealing candidate for the role.
None of the reports regarding Mullen have been definitive, but with all this smoke, it is hard not to believe there isn’t a little bit of fire to it considering the amount of people who are saying he was in Syracuse this week. He was in Chestnut Hill on Friday for Boston College’s game against Miami as part of his ESPN duties, but that isn’t totally out of the way from being in Syracuse during the week.
Most of the reaction to the Mullen rumors is positive in the SU community based on his history of recruiting, despite his ending at Florida. In his first two seasons with the Gators, he won at least 10 games, including an Orange Bowl victory in 2019, with a Cotton Bowl appearance mixed in there in 2020 as well.
His success at Mississippi State, one of the bottom-tier SEC teams (kind of what Syracuse is in the ACC), also makes sense considering how he was able to build up that program and over the course of nine seasons go to seven bowl games (going 5-2 in such contests), with an Orange Bowl appearance in 2014 mixed in there.
It is definitely still possible someone like Bob Chesney from Holy Cross, Jason Candle from Toledo, or other coaches originally linked to the Orange end up being the guy, but the Mullen smoke is very hard to ignore right now and it is clear Wildhack is working around the clock to make this process as speedy as possible considering the end of the regular season is near and the opening of the transfer portal right after that.