It wasn’t supposed to be this difficult.
Dan Mullen is in his fourth year at Florida with a 2021 schedule that included seven games against programs with first or second year head coaches, struggling to get their programs heading in the right direction. An eighth program on the Gators schedule, LSU’s head coach Ed Orgeron was on the hot seat. Orgeron was immediately fired after the Bayou Bengals defeated the Gators.
Sure, Florida faced the top-ranked team in the country-twice.
Through 10 games, Florida is just 5-5 with regular season games remaining against Eastern Division opponent Missouri in Columbia and against arch-rival Florida State in The Swamp. Those games shouldn’t be in doubt, but brother, look out.
Saturday, after surrendering the most points in a single half of football in Gators history, Florida rallied for a 70-52 win over a 4-6 Samford (FCS) squad in the stadium a few Auburn and Alabama players recently called the most difficult road environment in college football.
Florida has to fire Dan Mullen.
This isn’t about Samford. No, Samford is merely the exclamation point on why Athletic Director Scott Stricklin must bring this debacle to an end. Florida’s players deserve better. The Gator Nation deserves better.
When was the last time the Gators played 60 minutes of football in a game?
How often have you questioned the Gators overall game preparation (offense, defense, and special teams) over the past two years?
Missed tackles have plagued the Florida defense for at least two years now.
Repeated discipline issues that are rarely resolved or that show up again two games later.
Look, there have been some great moments under Mullen. The program looked to be on the rise from his first year through the 2019 season. Personally, I thought the Gators were on the right track, minus recruiting issues that needed to improve and three assistant coaches who needed to be dismissed.
Kyle Pitts was a generational player who developed beautifully under Mullen and the assistant coaches. We saw the development of quarterback Kyle Trask, once he finally got the opportunity to play. Florida also advanced to the SEC Championship game a year ago and gave Alabama fits, but the Gators couldn’t build on that offensive performance.
But, Mullen and the Gators are just 5-8 over the past 13 games.
That’s unacceptable at a Southeastern Conference powerhouse that has laid claim to three National Championships, eight Southeastern Conference championships, and 13 Southeastern Conference Championship game appearances over the past 30 years.
Mullen either stubbornly ignored or has merely been too slow to act on needed assistant coaching changes to help resolve Florida’s obvious recruiting shortcomings. Unlike some of the top coaches in college football, Mullen isn’t the guy who will win over the elite recruit on the other end of the cell phone. He isn’t the guy to win over the big recruiting weekend either.
Oh, what could have been.
Mullen has had the perfect opportunity to dominate college football in the state of Florida, while challenging Alabama and Georgia for SEC Supremacy.
Yet four years later, despite coaching changes in Tallahassee and Coral Gables, Mullen and his staff have struggled to land so many of the Sunshine State’s elite.
Furthermore, the coaching carousel in the SEC East with recent changes at Tennessee, South Carolina, Missouri (2nd year), and Vanderbilt figured to see the Kentucky Wildcats battling with the Gators for the runner-up spot behind top-ranked Georgia. Yes, before the 2021 season ever kicked off, we all knew how deep the divide was between Georgia and Florida.
It seems that he doesn’t even enjoy the opportunity to go recruit.
Mullen and his staff have been big winners in the transfer portal, but every die-hard college football fan knows that recruiting at the high school level had to improve under Mullen or there would be trouble.
Strangely, Mullen even seems tone deaf at times when given the opportunity to pump up his own Florida program.
Two weeks ago, Gators Breakdown’s David Waters tried to ask a question about recruiting. It wasn’t a gotcha moment. It was an opportunity to answer a question by simply stating that we’re not where we need to be and throwing out a teaser that changes are coming to improve the program. Mullen should have also wrapped Waters’ question with a 5-6 minute informercial on why Florida is precisely where elite recruits need to come and play.
He blew it.
He didn’t even let Waters finish the question. It seemed to be a microcosm on how recruiting has gone under Mullen at Florida.
Don’t get me wrong, Florida has many really good players. Under Mullen though, Florida has missed signing far too many elite players that have gone to Tuscaloosa, Clemson, Columbus, or Athens. And that’s the difference between the have’s and the have nots.
Too slow or too stubborn, Mullen is seemingly his own worst enemy.
And now, the Dan Mullen Era at Florida must come to an end.
Follow Mark McLeod @McLeodLive. Contact Mark at Mark@BlitzSportsRadio.com