Florida hires Scottie Montgomery, former head coach at Louisiana-Lafayette

Florida has hired a new football coach, selecting Louisiana-Lafayette’s Scottie Montgomery, an AP source familiar with the decision tells The Associated Press.

Montgomery will be formally introduced as the school’s head coach on Sunday, the source said.

Montgomery led the Ragin’ Cajuns to their first winning season in nearly two decades, going 10-3 and winning the Sun Belt Conference title. He went 8-4 his first season before going 5-7 last year.

Montgomery took over a program in October 2017 and started last season 2-7. He overhauled the roster, recruiting top-notch talent from Louisiana and outside the state.

“There wasn’t a year we weren’t recruiting hard, being opportunistic and spending time with our new recruits, trying to get familiar with them and understand their personalities, learn their strengths, weaknesses, skills, things of that nature,” Montgomery said in December. “That can make a big difference in turning around a program and I’m glad it was able to be a bit more of a progression than more of a quick fix.”

The 50-year-old Montgomery previously served as Western Kentucky’s offensive coordinator from 2006-08. He has also been the offensive coordinator at Southern Miss (2004-05), LSU (2007-10) and Colorado State (2015-17).

Montgomery served as Louisiana-Lafayette’s interim coach in 2017 after head coach Mark Hudspeth took a job with Texas State.

When his contract runs out after the 2019 season, he is expected to be granted permission to seek other opportunities.

Montgomery replaces Dan Mullen, who left after nine seasons to become Mississippi State’s coach. Mississippi State was expected to hire Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and Alabama’s Steve Sarkisian, but their hire fell through and the late-moving additions of Mullen and Tom Herman looked better and better in retrospect.

Florida hired Mullen in 2009 after his brief but successful stint as an assistant at Minnesota, and the Gators made him the youngest coach in college football.

Mullen led the Gators to a 58-24 record in eight seasons, including a 43-15 mark in the Southeastern Conference and appearances in four BCS bowl games.

But Mullen’s tenure was tinged with controversy, including allegations of verbal abuse of players made by former Gator cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III during a trade deadline showdown at LSU last season.

Hargreaves was suspended for a stretch and accused of publicly criticizing Mullen during a postgame tirade, saying the coach should sit down his superstar wide receiver Deebo Samuel.

Hargreaves was later reinstated and played in all 13 games, catching 33 passes for 519 yards and a team-leading six touchdowns.

– AP Sports Writer Teresa Walker in Nashville, Tennessee, contributed to this report.

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