dan mullen is out
Dan Mullen has been fired at Florida, and another big job is now open. Where did things go wrong for the Gators? And how can they return to their national-championship-contending ways? Our experts break it all down
What was the biggest reason for Dan Mullen’s downfall?
Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin put it best about what was missing: consistency. Like his predecessors Will Muschamp and Jim McElwain, Mullen had some success, coming within a touchdown of knocking off Alabama in the SEC championship game last season. But creating the kind of program that could sustain high-level success proved elusive. As soon as Kyle Trask, Kyle Pitts and Kadarius Toney left, the bottom fell out. And that all goes back to recruiting. It’s an open secret in the SEC that, when compared to his conference brethren, Mullen just isn’t that tenacious of a recruiter. It was that way at Mississippi State, where it was accepted, but expectations changed dramatically the minute he returned to Gainesville. Claiming top-10 classes each year from 2019 to 2021 was nice, except that every year Florida finished behind its top competition in the SEC: Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Texas A&M. The current 2022 class ranking is 23rd. That’s just not good enough, and ultimately it cost Mullen his job. Because when the product on the field started slipping, he had nothing to point to, no obvious influx of talent on the way, that could stabilize the program or even threaten to challenge Georgia’s supremacy in the East.
Recruiting, or lack thereof, is the obvious reason. Florida missed out on too many elite players, especially when you compare the way the Gators have recruited the past few years to what Alabama and Georgia have done on the recruiting trail. It’s not like Florida was devoid of talent. It’s more that Mullen took on a laissez-faire type of attitude about
recruiting with some of the things he said publicly, and that grated on administrators, boosters and fans at Florida. Mullen has always been one of those guys who was a bit unconventional and would get himself into trouble with some of his ill-advised comments. Those things have a way of coming back on you when the bottom falls out the way it did this season for Florida. Ultimately, Mullen’s undoing was the way his team performed down the stretch this season. The Gators just didn’t look real enthused about playing, a telltale sign that a coach has lost his team.