Jimbo Fisher’s departure an early Christmas present for Dan Mullen

Florida coach Dan Mullen

Mullen has navigated the SEC West for nine years. He’s seen every possible fastball the game can offer. Taggart has one year of experience matching wits in a major conference.

Taggart inherits more talent, but the gap between the Gators and ‘Noles shrunk when Fisher bolted. FSU had been a model of stability; Fisher ended that.

While Taggart has the potential to be sensational, Mullen also has to be somewhat relieved that the Seminoles didn’t land a more proven commodity, such as Penn State’s James Franklin or Virginia Tech’s Justin Fuente. Franklin is 45 with a career record of 59-32 and a Big Ten division title. Fuente is 41 with a career mark of 45-30 and an ACC division title.

RELATED: Where each SEC team should’ve finished, relative to its recruiting rankings

The landscape looks less threatening now for Mullen as he embarks on his UF tenure. Georgia certainly looks to be ready to excel consistently with second-year coach Kirby Smart winning the SEC this season and recruiting at an elite level. That will be a huge challenge for Mullen, but a weakened FSU will help him even if it’s temporary. Obviously, the mess at Tennessee benefits the Gators, too.

Mullen will have to deal with LSU as Florida’s annual SEC West foe. His Mississippi State team handed Ed Orgeron a 37-7 defeat on September 17.

Any coach needs luck. Mullen received a huge dose when Fisher left FSU.

Three of his toughest annual opponents now look weaker than usual. That was expected at LSU and Tennessee, but Fisher’s departure was a beautiful house-warming present for Mullen.

(You can email Hays Carlyon at email hidden; JavaScript is required and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon)

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