People pay attention when things happen like the University of Florida Gators firing head football coach Will Muschamp. Even in off years, the Florida Gators football program is one of the most-watched in all of college football. So when rumors swirl that Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen is a candidate in the Florida football coaching search, Gators fans nationwide take note.
Florida announced Sunday that Muschamp will not return to coach the Gators football team next season. In fact, the athletic director announced Monday that they hope to have a new Florida Gators head coach in place before the end of the year, perhaps even before Christmas. That’s an aggressive timeline, unless the Florida Gators football program already has someone in mind.
Muschamp had coached the Florida Gators to a 27-20 record in his four seasons at the helm, including a 17-15 record in SEC play. However, for a Florida Gators football program accustomed to playing dominating ball and high-powered offenses, Muschamp’s record didn’t cut the mustard.
So the possibility of Mississippi State football coach Mullen being a candidate for the Florida Gators head coaching job is both juicy and plausible.
Mullen has a documented history of paying attention to his offense, and he has tangible connections to the Florida Gators football program already. Mullen held coaching positions twice under Urban Meyer, once as the quarterbacks coach at Utah, and once as offensive coordinator at the University of Florida.
Mullen developed Kansas City Chiefs QB Alex Smith while he was at Utah, and while at Florida oversaw the college quarterback career of none other than Tim Tebow. This year at Mississippi State Mullen’s coached Bulldogs QB Dak Prescott to Heisman consideration and oversaw a read-option offense that had Mississippi State ranked No. 1 in the AP college football poll for five weeks and sitting atop the College Football Playoff Committee’s first two rankings.
After Saturday’s loss to Alabama, Mullen certainly knows the sky isn’t falling at Mississippi State. Alabama was favored to win, and the Bulldogs would have won the game had Prescott and Co. not had a few miscues on several drives in the red zone. But for a chance to coach the Gators….
Offensive coach? You’d better believe it. Connected to Gainesville? Clearly. Desire to leave Mississippi State? Maybe.
Early reports have said Mullen is “not closing the door on the possibility of leaving,” though the coach “has said he sees advantages to staying in Starkville and there have been reports that he rubbed some in Gainesville the wrong way before he left.”
Specifically, Yahoo! Sports reports that the “friction” was between Mullen and Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley. Apparently “there was a friction between Foley and Mullen that makes a reunion unlikely.”
There was friction between LeBron James and Dan Gilbert too. Funny how people have a change of heart when they want to win and “come home.”
Various reports are now jumping on the bandwagon that Mississippi State football coach Mullen is not a candidate. But if Foley is serious about finding “the right candidate,” as he’s said during the past two days, he will almost assuredly request permission from Mississippi State to talk with Mullen about the Florida Gators head coaching position. The worst thing that could happen is Mullen says no.