Now that Charlie Strong is officially the head coach of the Louisville Cardinals, Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer must find someone to replace him as the team’s defensive coordinator. Strong, who said Wednesday that he will stay on to coach the Gators defense in the 2010 Sugar Bowl, will likely work with his future successor in preparation for the game, similar to how former offensive coordinator Dan Mullen worked with his replacement Steve Addazio before the 2009 BCS National Championship. Assistant head coach, defense/defensive line coach Dan McCarney and assistant defensive coordinator/safeties coach Chuck Heater are currently Meyer’s leading candidates to replace Strong, though he could hire someone from the outside.
Assistant head coach, defense/defensive line coach
A 32-year coaching veteran, McCarney remains the longest tenured head coach in Big 12 history, leading the Iowa State Cyclones to five bowl games from 1995-2006. He was named Big 12 Coach of the Year in 2004 and was responsible for the rebirth of Iowa State’s defense, which ranked among the Big 12 leaders in total defense in 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2005. Prior to his tenure with the Cyclones, McCarney, 56, was the Wisconsin Badgers defensive coordinator. In 1993, his defense ranked 19th nationally against the run and allowed only 16.3 points per game. Wisconsin recorded a nation’s-best 23 interceptions as well as 34 turnovers that season.
Assistant defensive coordinator, safeties coach
A 33-year coaching veteran, Heater has worked with Meyer at four different programs including the Ohio State Buckeyes, Colorado State Rams and Utah Utes. He has worked with six National Coaches of the Year (Barry Alvarez, Earle Bruce, Lou Holtz, Meyer, Bill McCartney, Bo Schembechler) and coached in 22 bowl games including six on New Year’s Day and two BCS National Championship games. Heater, 57, was the Gators’ recruiting coordinator in 2006 and 2007 for two of the team’s best recruiting classes to date. His cornerback units helped Florida lead the SEC in interceptions with 16 (2005, T-Georgia) and 21 (2006), respectively.