A new era is officially underway in Gainesville.
Exactly four weeks after dismissing disgraced head football coach Jim McElwain, Florida’s athletic association announced the hiring of Dan Mullen.
Mullen was UF’s offensive coordinator from 2005 to 2008 — winning two national championships alongside Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow — before spending the past nine seasons coaching Mississippi State.
Now, just five days into his new job as the leader of the Gators, Mullen is already making some changes to the program.
He fired interim coach Randy Shannon, offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier and four other assistants left over from McElwain’s tenure.
He’s been hot on the recruiting trail too, visiting five-star quarterback Justin Fields and earning a commitment from three-star offensive tackle Chris Bleich.
And he’s promised to resurrect Florida out of the ashes of the SEC and back into the spotlight as an FBS powerhouse, saying at his introductory news conference on Monday: “I will give relentless effort in everything I do to make sure that we return the football program to a national-championship level.”
But can he?
The Gators were successful in Mullen’s first stint with the team, but they’ve failed to win a conference title since he left and have been mired by problems with offensive inconsistency.
So who knows what the future holds?
Will Mullen be the next Spurrier, or another McElwain?
Sports editor Matt Brannon and assistant sports editor Dylan Dixon have the answer:
Dan Mullen will be a resounding success because…
I’ll admit I wasn’t sold on the Mull-man from Mississippi State when I first heard he was getting hired. I wanted Chip Kelly because he combines a serious win-now mentality with the looks of Winnie the Pooh. But after hearing the Mullinator’s first news conference, I was all in on Mullen. He talked about his national championships as Florida’s offensive coordinator, said Tim Tebow’s name 10 times and even acknowledged the most important quality of a Gators coach.
“What (do) you do if you’re a Florida Gator and you’re going to start coaching? You start wearing the visor,” Mullen said in a room of hoity-toity swampy supporters. While I was hesitant at first, I completely believe in him now. Consider me a full-blown Mullenial.
- Matt Brannon
Dan Mullen will be a miserable failure because…
Mullen may have razzle dazzled Matt into jumping onto his bandwagon, but I’m not convinced.
Not by a long shot.
Yes, the 45-year-old coach had success with the Gators while serving as their offensive coordinator in the mid-2000s. But how did he fare in Starkville, Mississippi? Some of the numbers are downright ugly.
Mullen went 2-16 against teams ranked in the AP Poll over his nine-year tenure with the Bulldogs, the worst record of any coach in NCAA history. He also has a meager .458 winning percentage in the SEC and is a combined 5-22 against Alabama, Auburn and LSU.
Granted, he was coaching a Mississippi State program that lacks the level of resources Florida has, but that track record is far from promising.
I don’t care what fans say. Mullen won’t amount to much in his second stint in Gainesville.
Miserable failure might be an understatement.
- Dylan Dixon
Now, onto our competitors!
In first, at 66-37, is 247Sports’ Thomas “Arachnid midwife” Goldkamp, who — in an attempt to kill a pregnant spider — unleashed hundreds of its babies onto his living room sofa. Rumor has it, Thomas wet himself and fled his apartment screaming for help. Grow a pair, Goldy. You really, really need to.
In second place, at 60-43, is Gator Country’s Nick “Salty UCF alumnus” de la Torre, who is still fuming over Florida’s hire of Mullen. Nick wanted UF to hire Frost, so much so that he’s protesting by dying his hair with frosted tips.
In third, at 56-47, is the Orlando Sentinel’s Edgar “Get off my lawn” Thompson, who is leading a petition to get Twitter to switch back to a 140-character limit. Sorry Edgar, your opinions are outdated, just like the idea that you can change anything in 2017 with a petition.
In fourth, at 54-49, is the Alligator’s Ian “Obsessed with Henry VIII” Cohen, who was so inspired by the English king’s lack of commitment (six marriages) that he stopped showing up for work all together in an effort to “party and be free like it’s 1533.”
Up next, at 53-50 is the Gainesville Sun’s Graham “Amateur hour” Hall, who was widely taunted after his dilapidated tripod tipped over during Mullen’s introductory news conference. It’s unclear if Graham will ever overcome the embarrassment of such a terrible first impression and his tripod’s fall from grace that was worse than Jim McElwain’s.
In sixth place, at 52-51, is the Alligator’s Ethan “Party pooper” Bauer, who popped the optimism balloon of Gator fans who are excited about coach Mike White of the UF men’s basketball team. As fans praised White, Ethan was rightfully raked over the coals for mentioning White will leave for a real coaching job soon.
In a tie for seventh, at 47-56, is the Alligator’s Dylan “Straight outta Swampton” Dixon, who is leaving behind journalism to start a rap career under the nickname D-Illin’. Be sure to avoid his first single “Eyes on the prize like Kadeem Telfort on Chester’s Hot Fries.”
Tied with Dylan, at 47-56, is the Alligator’s Matt “Oh s---, what time is it” Brannon, who slept through the final exam of his sports information management class on Thursday. When he finally woke up, he called a colleague in tears, sputtering over the fact “he wasn’t gonna graduate next semester.” Look at the bright side man, you can come back in Fall 2018 and avenge your horrendous picks column record. Everything happens for a reason.