Unbeaten and ranked No. 11 in Sunday’s AP Poll, Florida will welcome the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide to The Swamp Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET on the SEC on CBS, the first time the Gators have hosted the nation’s top team in 19 years.

In his fourth year at the helm of the program, it looks safe to say Dan Mullen has returned Florida to the elite level of college football, or at least very close to it.

Releasing his article Monday morning, however, Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger provided a behind-the-scenes look at how the successful pairing of Mullen and Gainesville almost did not happen.

Then in his second year as the Gators’ AD, Scott Stricklin was initially hesitant to pursue Mullen in 2017.

A Jackson, Mississippi native, Stricklin has extensive ties to Mississippi State, earning his bachelor’s degree from the school in 1992 and serving in the media relations department from 1990-98, before returning to Starkville in 2008 and staying until 2016, the last six years as AD.

Dellenger breaks down how Florida’s coaching search began with Chip Kelly, who was unemployed following a year in charge of the San Francisco 49ers.

One week after parting ways with Jim McElwain, three members of the Gators’ search committee met with Kelly at his New Hampshire home.

The meeting went well enough that Kelly’s girlfriend, Jill Cohen, visited Gainesville days later.

Eventually visiting Kelly a second time, the now-UCLA coach ultimately elected to remove his name from consideration.

An interesting tidbit from Dellenger’s article emerges here. Three days before their second meeting with Kelly, members of the search committee met with UCF’s Scott Frost on Thursday, November 16, 2017.

Dellenger says, “They describe the interview with Frost as unimpressive, as they emerged with a similar feeling: He’s not ready for this big of a job.”

The day after the Frost meeting, Friday, November 17, 2017, Stricklin made his first contact with Mullen, via text message.

After UCF defeated USF to complete an 11-0 regular season, the search committee was down to two names for their job: Frost and Mullen.

Speaking to Frost over the telephone, the coach told the search committee he would call them back after a staff meeting.

This, for whatever reason, never happened.

“We are still waiting for his call,” a search committee member told Dellenger.

Mullen is 31-9 (19-7 SEC) at Florida, while Frost is 14-21 (9-18 B1G) at Nebraska.

“As for Frost, his homecoming at Nebraska has gone awry,” Dellenger said. “He won 12 games in his first three seasons, is now under NCAA investigation and, many feel, is likely to be fired by Christmas.”

If Frost wants to prove these people wrong, his Cornhuskers have a golden opportunity Saturday when they travel to Norman to battle the No. 3 Sooners at 12 p.m. ET on FOX.