Dan Mullen’s momentum at Florida seems to have waned. After 21 wins through his first two seasons in Gainesville, the Gators slipped to 8-4 a year ago (granted, with an SEC East title), and are off to a 4-4 start this season.
Florida gave Alabama a real scare on Sept. 18, falling 31-29 to Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide. The team rebounded to beat Tennessee, but has losses to Kentucky, LSU, and Georgia in the last four weeks. The No. 1-ranked Dawgs bludgeoned the Gators 34-7, leading to discourse comparing Mullen’s recruiting efforts to those of Kirby Smart.
“We’re in the season now. We’ll do recruiting after the season – when it gets to recruiting time we can talk about recruiting,” Mullen said, when asked about classes that are lagging behind their rivals’. It’s fairly clear he meant that he doesn’t intend to talk recruiting with the media until after the season, but when compared to Kirby Smart’s admission about the role of coaching vs. talent in college football, it still sticks out.
During an appearance on SiriusXM, former college coach Rick Neuheisel said that he believes Mullen is “tired” of being at Florida, and floated a pretty interesting idea: if he gets a shot at the NFL, he might take it. It’s hard to see Mullen landing an NFL head coaching job off of a disappointing year at Florida, but after Kliff Kingsbury, anything is possible.
Rick Neuheisel on @SXMCollege about Florida’s Dan Mullen: “I know Dan & like him & respect him: if he gets an NFL chance I think he’ll take it. I think he’s tired of this (at Florida)”
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) November 4, 2021
Dan Mullen certainly wouldn’t be the first coach to burn out on the grind that is college football, with its year-round recruiting calendar and immense pressure. NFL coaches still put in crazy hours, but they don’t have to worry as much about personnel, or flying across the country during the week to woo high school stars.
His entire career has been at the college level, though, which would make it interesting to make a jump. Mullen was the head coach at Mississippi State for nearly a decade before taking over at Florida, where he previously served as offensive coordinator under Urban Meyer. His resume also includes stops at Utah and Bowling Green on Meyer staffs, as well as Notre Dame, Syracuse, Columbia, and Wagner.