If Dan Mullen is being evaluated as every Florida coach since Steve Spurrier’s assessment, the standard is pretty straightforward. Either you’re going to mix Florida to win the SEC and national championships or you’re going to live the buyout life.
The Florida Gators brand is so good. Their benefits are so deep. His fan base and leadership is what he is demanding.
Mullen, who was Urban Mayor’s offensive coordinator for four seasons at Gainesville, knew that when he made an intra-SEC move from Mississippi State, where it was reason enough to throw an 8-4 parade.
“I put so many high hopes on myself and my schedule that what we want to do,” Mullen told ESPN ahead of the 2019 season. “I came to Florida to win the championship and have a program that is going to compete for the championship not only once in a while but every single season in a row.”
In many ways, Mullen has been on the right track with three New Year’s six bowl appearances in three years, eventually knocking Georgia to win the division last season with a close miss against Alabama in the SEC championship game. Is. Given the high standards of a job like Florida, you wouldn’t say that Mullen exceeded expectations wildly. But he has been right in the ballpark.
However, those narratives can change quickly. And as Mullen reaches the midpoint of his fourth year, chances are you won’t find many Florida fans who believe his tenure is something special.
Later Saturday’s 49-42 loss at LSU — for the second year in a row the Gators have lost to a nowhere-going LSU team — This season is officially a bust for 4-3 Florida. And the issues revolving around Mullen are important.
First and foremost, Mullen’s decision to retain defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, even though the Gators couldn’t stop anyone last season, doesn’t look great after allowing LSU 321 rushing yards. This is an LSU team that hasn’t even scored 150 against any opponents this year (including McNeese State) and has been held under 100 yards several times, but somehow the Tigers have been able to click big plays on the field whenever they want. did.
Second, the road for Florida to keep up or overtake Georgia in the east is narrowing. It’s a rivalry that’s been seen over the years, but now Bulldogs very close to winning national title And there is a clear edge in recruitment.
Third, it appears that Mullen has been playing the wrong quarterback for most of this season. While Redshirt freshman Anthony Richardson was battling a hamstring injury earlier this season, he was declared 100% healthy more than two weeks ago, but barely played against Kentucky or Vanderbilt and only desperately hit the ball against LSU. pulled out when starter Emory Jones, who struggled for the entire game, threw a pick-six at the start of the third quarter.
But Richardson, who looks like a potential Cam Newton clone, is a far more talented passerby than Jones and showed Florida back in the game by trailing 28-13. Richardson isn’t a finished product yet, but he is the future. And Mullen’s reluctance to give him the ball is undermining his credibility with a fan base that sees game time as something different than it suggests.
Worse, Richardson was asked after the game about concerns he might transfer. His reply was nothing short of reassuring an already enthusiastic fan base.
“I can’t really speak on that,” he told reporters. “Time is the only thing that tells. Right now I’m a gator.”
Richardson may not have intended to sound that remark as a warning – he later tweeted an explanation While pledging his devotion to Florida—but the seeds of doubt have been sown. Mullen isn’t in the hot seat right now or even particularly close, but if he doesn’t fix the three issues listed above, it won’t be a long journey.
That’s why Florida ranks No. 1 on this week’s Misery Index, a weekly measure of knee-jerk reactions based on what each fan base has just seen.