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Urban Meyer Steps Down: How Does This Affect The SEC East?

After a year one could describe as a rebuilding year in the SEC East, the conference’s tenuous balance of power could be altered by the resignation of Florida Gators coach Urban Meyer. Georgia Bulldogs and Tennessee Volunteers fans will rejoice, as Meyer owned both of Florida’s traditional division rivals. But this could actually be bad news for Dawgs and Vols fans.

Florida has the money and prestige to land just about any coach it wants, and the most obvious candidate is Mississippi St. Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen. As an associate of Meyer’s for a decade, Mullen would ensure a high level of continuity — and he might be just as good a coach.

In his second year at MSU, Mullen led the Bulldogs to a better record than Meyer put together at Florida, including a win over the Gators in Gainesville. Missy State’s offense gained about 40 more yards per game than Florida’s did. Mullen achieved this with far fewer resources — in 2009 Florida’s athletic department spent over $100 million. MSU’s spent $37 million.

While this may already be having an impact on recruiting, with Thomas County Central DE Ray Drew expressing displeasure at the news while gearing up for a Georgia visit this weekend, Mullen is a strong recruiter. He has the Bulldogs in line for a No. 26 class this year, much better than their usual finish in the 30s and 40s.

Plus, Florida got worse once Mullen left, with no area of the team impacted more than its offense. The Gators led the SEC in scoring in 2007 and 2008, then slipped in 2009 and plummeted in 2010.

If Meyer was distracted by his health and family concerns throughout the season, that could explain the team’s failure to address obvious offensive gameplanning and player development shortcomings. If Mullen is hired, don’t expect the same level of attention to detail.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.