Stacy Searels will be Gators' offensive line coach, per reports; Florida disputes reports

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

At the very least, Stacy Searels has to be considered the front-runner to be Florida's next offensive line coach.

Late Saturday night, both 247Sports' GatorBait.net ($) and Scout's Fightin' Gators ($) reported that Texas offensive line coach Stacy Searels would be named to the same position at Florida, with an announcement possible on Sunday. Sunday morning, Florida rebuffed those reports.

One problem with Florida trying to make that idea stick: Searels has seemed to be far and away the best and most logical candidate for the job for weeks, and there are only two other names that have even been credibly linked to the position.

The first of those names is Western Kentucky offensive line coach Neil Callaway, who was first mentioned way back in November by Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel, and whose purported front-runner status seemed linked with USC offensive coordinator Clay Helton's purported front-runner status for the offensive coordinator job that would eventually go to Duke's Kurt Roper.

The second is Duke offensive line coach John Latina, whose candidacy was first mentioned by Football Rumor Mill on Friday, and whose hiring would fit the need for more harmony between Florida's offensive coordinator and offensive line coaches in the wake of reported "friction" between Brent Pease and Tim Davis, who were both fired in late November.

And neither Callaway, who has SEC experience after years as an offensive coach at Alabama and Georgia, and had a stint as UAB's head coach, nor Latina, whose last two years spent at Duke as an OL coach with Roper theoretically makes for all the working rapport one would need in an OL coach with Roper, had the smoke that accompanied Searels at one point — namely, another GatorBait report ($) that a current Texas player's parent was told Searels would be Florida's next offensive line coach.

Searels is also perceived to be close to Major Applewhite, who was considered a possibility at offensive coordinator for Florida, and both Applewhite and Searels have ties to Will Muschamp. Muschamp and Applewhite were on Mack Brown's Texas staff from 2008 to 2010, and Muschamp both coached with Searels at LSU in 2003 and 2004 and was part of why Searels was hired at Texas in 2010.

Because of all that, I still strongly expect Searels to be hired as Florida's offensive line coach. Eventually. But I think that there's some hesitance on Florida's part to confirm media reports as they happen, given the program's strong preference for controlling the announcement of news, and I also think that announcing a hire from Texas before former Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong is fully introduced as Texas's next head coach has just enough of a degree of difficulty that Florida might rather wait a couple of days.

Searels is, by many accounts, a very good coach, and has been a very good recruiter at Texas. But Florida's more or less set at offensive line in the Class of 2014 as is, and it's still got months to go before spring practice in April; he would go to work on the recruiting trail almost immediately, but Searels more likely to be doing getting-to-know-you recon or working on recruits who committed to him at Texas than trying hard to add new targets to the Gators' board for the five-week spring to National Signing Day.

Florida can safely wait a day or two to announce his hiring, if that is its play. I think it might.

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