GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Florida has hired Dan Mullen of the state of Mississippi as its next soccer coach, bringing back the guy who helped turn Tim Tebow into a star.
The Gators will announce the agreement later on Sunday, a person familiar with the search told The Associated Press. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because Mullen had not told his team. Mullen is expected to address players in Starkville, Mississippi, before the contract becomes official.
Devoured by Chip Kelly and apparently reluctant to risk waiting for Scott Frost of UCF to do the same, Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin turned to Mullen. Stricklin and Mullen worked together at Starkville from 2009 to 2016. Stricklin was the sports director of Mississippi State for seven of those years.
Mullen spent four years (2005-08) as Florida's offensive coordinator and won two national championships while guiding Tebow to the top of the school's record books.
The Gators have sputtered on offense since
. Stricklin promised to have fun again in Florida when he split with coach Jim McElwain last month. For a week, it seemed that Kelly could appease a base of frustrated fans. But Kelly chose UCLA over Florida on Saturday, and Stricklin was forced to look elsewhere.
He made the sure choice, one that will not be very popular among Florida's faithful.
Still, the 45-year-old Mullen has a résumé that is hard to ignore. He has 13 years of experience in the wild Southeastern Conference, knows Florida well, has recruited in the Sunshine State and has taken the Bulldogs to a bowling game for eight consecutive years in a school record. He has 5-2 in bowls.
Obtained a distinctly superior performance at Mississippi State, which had lost at least eight games in seven of the eight seasons prior to Mullen's arrival.
Mullen spent nine years at Starkville, with a 69-46 record that included a 33-39 record in the SEC game. He is second on the all-time school victories list behind Jackie Sherrill.
Mullen is best known for developing quarterbacks. He played an important role in the college careers of Alex Smith (Utah), Tebow (Florida), Dak Prescott (Mississippi State) and current Mississippi State head Nick Fitzgerald.
Mullen's best season was 2014, when the Bulldogs chaired by Prescott was the No. 1 team in the country for five consecutive weeks before losing to Alabama. Mississippi State was also the No. 1 team in the inaugural College Football Playoff ranking.
Mullen inherits a team from Florida that lacks a capable quarterback and has his worst scoring defense since 1946.
The Gators have depth problems in all areas, they lack offensive players and they were so weak to the defense that a former scoring linebacker played important plays.
Suspensions and injuries are partly to blame. But the lack of recruitment and failure in the youth's development – quarterback Feleipe Franks is an excellent example – also played a role in the team that went from being a two-time Eastern Division champion to losing a bowl game. for the second time in 27 years.
Florida remains one of the most attractive jobs in college football.
The Gators have a base of fervent supporters, have one of the main operating budgets of the country ($ 125 million in 2017-18) and have planned more than $ 100 million in facility improvements, including the construction of a vanguard to host the football program. Get to be surrounded by some of the best recruiting strengths in the country, and Florida seems ready for a quick fix.
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