Dan Mullen out to prove to Florida football that everything happens for a reason

By Adam Silverstein
March 22, 2018
Dan Mullen out to prove to Florida football that everything happens for a reason
Football

Image Credit: Tim Casey / UAA

The last seven years have been rough ones for Florida Gators football fans. Sure, there have been moments of hope — mirages of potential breakthrough success on the horizon in the form of SEC Championship Game appearances — but the most astute always knew those were more happenstance than accomplishment.

Florida football, once a long-distance swimmer, has been treading water for the better part of a decade. And while it may need a few years to transverse the Atlantic Ocean, the Gators have clearly found their stroke again.

The difference in Gainesville, Florida, is palpable. Three people that have watched practice in person and/or work behind the scenes with the program tell OnlyGators.com that, in just a few short months, it has never been more clear what Florida was missing. And it just so happens that’s exactly what new head coach Dan Mullen brings to the table.

Gone are the jumping jacks to start practice. Say hello to the return of the Oklahoma drill.

Forget keeping fans at an arm’s length. The us-against-the-world mentality that taught the Gators they were unable to trust those who literally pay to cheer for them is gone.

The closed door policy took a jet ski out of town. Media are welcome to — gasp — watch practice and cover the team properly. We even get legitimate answers to legitimate questions. What a revelation!

No longer will an absurd yet viral picture on the internet be seen as a personal affront. It’s OK to laugh at the absurdity that is college football and have fun along the way.

Over are the days of assistants being retained in positions they are clearly unable to handle at this level simply because they are friends with the coach. There’s an experienced, proven staff in town ready to coach and recruit with the best of them.

The rash of injuries that permeated the team for years due to an inefficient and ineffective strength program? It remains to be seen how Florida’s new mindset will work, but let’s just say the players have been thrilled with their early results (despite the grind it has taken to get them).

Mullen has only been back in town for three months, yet those close to the team tell OnlyGators.com that Gators football hardly resembles the program he took over. Yes, there are still myriad obstacles to overcome. Florida needs an infusion of top-tier talent, particularly on defense. The recruiting system is still being refined. The players are still getting used to the strength program and the new coaches. These things take time.

Florida may not be exceedingly successful right out of the gate, but what’s clear is the Gators will no longer be a laughingstock. It’s unlikely there will be historic offensive lulls, defensive inconsistencies and an overall inability to connect with the fan base.

Will there be national championships to come under Mullen? It’s possible, but that’s way in the future. What’s more important is what there won’t be: 4-8 seasons, embarrassing losses to rivals and an inability to compete with the best college football teams in the nation.

There is only one active coach in the United States of America who better understands how to lead Florida football, and considering he was not available, the Gators clearly had three options on the table: flash, heat or stability.

What Florida may not have realized when it struck out with Chip Kelly and flirted with Scott Frost is that the stability offered by Mullen was always what the team needed most. It just so happens he brings a bit of flash and under-the-radar swagger with him as well.

This is not to say the Mullen era is guaranteed to be a successful one for the orange and blue. Previous coaches dealt with unexpected and often somewhat-unfair obstacles to overcome, and he may as well. The difference is that Mullen has already established what he can do when given time, opportunity and resources.

And more importantly, he’s quickly reminding the Gators and their fans what can be accomplished when a program works together to head in the right direction, swimming with the waves instead of trying to paddle against them.

One Comment

  1. South Bleachers says:

    2010, Mullen and his Bulldogs come to BHG and stymie the Mighty Gators 10-7, threw 9 times, ran it down Florida’s throat. That was painful to watch. I’ll never forget watching Mullen and his team celebrate on our field, embarrassing Meyer. He’s come home fans.

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