Dan Mullen: The Savior of Florida Football
By Will Munro ‘20
November 27, 2017, a date which will live infamy for Nole fans. That was the day the University of Florida hired former offensive coordinator (who coached the 2008 and 2006 National Championship teams) and former Mississippi State head coach, Dan Mullen, to its head football coaching position.
The Gators went 3-4 under coach Jim McElwain (former Colorado State head coach), who was fired after an embarrassing loss to archrival Georgia 42-7, last year. The Gators finished the 2017 season 4-7 to encapsulate only its second losing season since 1979.
Coach Mullen turned the team around. He led the team to a 9-3 regular season, a 10th CFP (College Football Playoff) ranking and a New Year’s 6 Bowl birth against number 7, Michigan, in the Chik-fil-A Peach Bowl (which will occur on December 29th). Mullen produced huge wins over his former team, Mississippi State (MSU), LSU, and an impressive 41-14 win over arch-rival, the Florida State Seminoles.
Mullen is a proven quarterback coach. He coached the greatest college football player ever in Tim Tebow, Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback, Dak Prescott, and current MSU star quarterback, Nick Fitzgerald. Mullen turned Florida quarterback, Feleipe Franks, into a formidable sophomore quarterback. Franks struggled under McElwain, only throwing for 1,438 yards, 9 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions. Under Mullen, Franks has shined. He has thrown for 2,284 yards, 23 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions, and has become the first Florida quarterback since John Brantley in 2010 to start all games in the regular season. Franks furthermore (as of the end of the regular season) threw for 2,284 yards, which is 63rd best in the nation. Franks has thrown for the same yards as star Penn State quarterback, Trace McSorley, and has thrown for more yards than star Georgia quarterback, Jake Fromm. Franks also ranks 50th among Division-1 quarterbacks in terms of quarterback rating, with a total of 64.5. Franks is only a sophomore, and under the tutelage of Dan Mullen, he will rise to be an elite quarterback by the time his senior year rolls around.
Mullen has elevated the Gators in one short year. Mullen has brought about the second-largest one-season improvement in Gator football history (behind the 1980 team who won eight games after an 0-10-1 record in 1979). The Gators are the 48th best offense in the country, up from 97th last year. On defense, the Gators are the 27th best, which is the same as last year. Mullen is an offensive minded coach and that is why he was hired. An abysmal offense has been miraculously improved under only one year of Mullen’s tenure.
The sky’s the limit for the Gators. Mullen’s New Year’s Six Bowl birth will attract more recruits. These recruits will continue to take Gator football back to the Tebow days. National Championship Culture is back in Florida with the Mullen hire. For the first time in almost a decade, Florida fans can be hopeful and optimistic for the future. A National Championship is in sight. Florida fans, like myself, have waited too long. Mullen is bringing the Gators back to the top of the College Football World. It’s finally “Great to be a Florida Gator” again!