GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Dan Mullen played all the right notes during his press conference on Monday, promising to return the fun to Florida soccer while embracing the high expectations of training the Gators.
former coach Steve Spurrier, former Gator players Shane Matthews and Chris Doering, and others gathered in a standing crowd, Mullen officially took the reins of a program that desperately needed leadership. Mullen left after nine seasons training Mississippi State to take a six-year contract with the Gators that will pay him $ 6 million annually.
Florida did not land Chip Kelly or Scott Frost. Can new coach Dan Mullen, a familiar face that has done more with less in Mississippi State, return the Gators to the heights they aspire to?
The new athletic director of Mullen, Scott Stricklin, worked with him in the state of Mississippi. But Mullen's long-standing ties to Florida, including a period as an offensive coordinator from 2005-08, made this a hiring that has many inside soccer offices thinking about the possibilities. Mullen has a history of developing quarterbacks, including the winner of the Heisman Trophy Tim Tebow.
In fact, Tebow was the most recent quarterback in Florida to find some success in the field. Since Tebow graduated in December of 2009, Florida has not ranked as the 82nd highest national in total offense, and that was in 2010.
"Playing field marshal here, at the University of Florida, those are some pretty big shoes to fill, "Mullen said. "There are a couple of really good trophies for the game of quarterbacks that have been here, there are a couple of championship trophies that our quarterbacks are hoping to get us here in this building."
"I want someone that, you know, when that team enters the group, all they're seeing is saying: "Hey, we have it so we can win." We have it so we can win. "
While Florida has had problems with quarterbacks, Mullen's teams in the state of Mississippi have had a stable presence in Nick Fitzgerald and Dak Prescott before him.
Before serving as the Gators' offensive coordinator, Mullen worked and developed Alex Smith in Utah
Mullen said Monday that he will continue running the extended offense that has made him so successful, and will give everyone on the list the opportunity to prove himself.
"I have been very lucky to train very talented guys, but you can & # 39; "I just waved a magic wand and fixed someone," Mullen said. "I have trained men committed to excellence, committed every day to be the best they can be, and those guys are fun to train."
Florida is set to return to quarterback Feleipe Franks, who stars most of the games for the Gators this season.
Like a nod to Spurrier, Mullen said he started wearing a visor because he loved watching Florida play while Spurrier was the head coach of the offense Fun & # 39; n & # 39; Gun.
"Coach Spurrier could argue with me, I do not know if anyone likes scoring points more than me, you know what I mean, I love scoring points," Mullen said. "We can add a hundred; I love scoring points, that's fun. "
That will be much more fun for Gator fans after the last seasons. Florida could not play a bowl after finishing 5-6 in 2017. The last time Mullen was in Gainesville, in 2008, the Gators won the national championship. Are those expectations much higher? That is the norm.
"I love challenges, I love it," Mullen said. "And I have as many expectations as anyone in this room about what this program will be like, you know, when people ask about schedules: I have great expectations for next season. , I do it, and I have no idea what kind of equipment we have. "