This column is a public service announcement to all of you ridiculously passionate Florida fans.
DO NOT make a GoFundMe page for Dan Mullen’s buyout (a healthy $12 million) if he loses at Tennessee this weekend and starts his career as UF’s head ball coach 0-2 in the Southeastern Conference.
It would not be a very good look, especially after eight such webpages were made for first-year Florida State coach Willie Taggart as reported by the Tallahassee Democrat.
Now there are only three still active, one of which was created by former adult film star Mia Khalifa, who proved her status as a die-hard FSU fan by raising $71 for a $21.2 million goal. And it’s possible that she could have raised more if she bothered to spell her head coach’s name correctly (she spelled it “Taggert”).
Buy out Taggart’s contract “so that FSU doesn’t go bankrupt trying to hire a real D1 Coach,” Khalifa posted on the webpage.
Well Mia, like it or not, you’re stuck with your coach for at least a short while longer. To fire him after 180 minutes of football would be a sure-fire way to guarantee an 0-2 start next season.
While many of you Florida faithful are probably chuckling over the hystria FSU fans are in, overreactions like this have consequences for a program, like hurting a school’s ability to recruit.
Everyone knows that these aren’t Taggart’s players. He inherited an abysmal offensive line and a team that’s front-loaded with stars and lacking in depth. But now that fans are pointing the finger at him, recruits are going to start doing it too.
The same goes for Mullen. He inherited a team that didn’t maintain a proper work ethic for the majority of last season during a rough coaching transition, and the UF players were the first to admit that.
Mullen came in and made a culture change, and sometimes, losing is just a part of adjusting to the new system. Of course no fan wants to see the end of a 31-game win streak over an SEC foe, but there’s no wake-up call louder than that, is there?
Now the Gators go on the road into Neyland Stadium, which holds 102,445 rabid (if not loyal) fans. Victory’s not a simple task to ask for. In fact, it’ll be a very difficult game for Florida to win. But Rome wasn’t built in a day. And if Florida loses, putting the head coach on the hot seat or calling for Feleipe Franks to be benched for the second-straight season won’t make this UF team develop any sooner.
Scott Van Pelt made a very good point on his nightly SportsCenter show: It took Nick Saban 10 seasons to build Alabama to what it is today, the country’s best program.
Be patient Gator fans. You’ll be rewarded for it.
Mark Stine is the online sports editor at The Alligator. You can follow him on Twitter @mstinejr or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.