It appears as if at this point that Dan Mullen will be the next head football coach of the University of Florida. While it might not be Chip Kelly or Scott Frost which is who a lot of Gators fans wanted coming into this search I don’t think this is as bad of a hire as some people are saying it is. A few things I have heard is that Dan Mullen is average at Mississippi State, he has a bad record vs ranked teams and he can’t handle a big school like Florida. While all those may be true in part what he has been able to do at Mississippi State has been nothing short of incredible.
Mullen took over Mississippi State in 2009, since then the Bulldogs have gone 69-46 and after a 5-7 season in his first year, he has led the bulldogs to a winning record in every year except in 2016 where they finished 6-7 with a bowl win. Another thing Mullen has done at Mississippi state was lead them to a 5-2 record in bowl games. Mullen also had the Bulldogs ranked in the AP poll in 6 of his 9 years there with a number 1 ranking during the 2014 season. Now some people might say that is not all that impressive but lets see where Mississippi State was before then.
The 8 years before Mullen came the Bulldogs had one season where they finished with more than 4 wins and were never ranked in the top 25 during that stretch. As I mentioned, Mullen led the Bulldogs to 5 bowl wins in his time in Starkville, Mississippi State had just 5 bowl wins between 1964-2008 when he took over.
Now how does that work when he comes to Florida? First of all, Mullen has been able to do that without top talent. In his time at Mississippi State he only ranked in the top 20 in recruiting twice and that was at #18 both times. Florida is consistently a top 10 recruiting school no matter who the coach is and with a good coach the Gators can consistently bring in top 5 recruiting classes. Mullen has consistently out coached the talent and expectations at Mississippi State and if that can translate to Florida then the Gators can return to dominating the SEC east like how they have in the past.
Another reason I think Mullen is a good fit is because he has coached at Florida and coached there during the best time in Gator football history. I say this because he knows the challenges that can come with the job and he also knows what it takes to have success at Florida since he was there to experience it first-hand. While he will have more pressure to win I think he is ready for that. Mullen has had great success at Mississippi State by their standards but it seemed like he was plateauing and got them to about as good as they can be. I think deep down Mullen was ready to get to the next level and will look to do that at Florida.
While Mullen rarely was able to win the big games against top 10 teams he usually (not all the time) played good teams close. While close doesn’t cut it, the Gators over the past few years were never in the game against the power house teams and with the talent that Mullen will be able to bring in at Florida he might be able to get over the hump and win some of those games.
Now I’m not saying that Mullen will be the next Spurrier or Urban Meyer at Florida but I think he will be able to come in and change the culture of the program which desperately needs a fixing. I think Mullen will also be able to get the Gators near the top again and hopefully for the Gators back to being a national powerhouse.