Florida Gators introduces Dan Mullen as new head coach


GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) – Dan Mullen began paying attention to Florida soccer more than two decades ago, long before he set foot on campus for the first time.

Mullen was the head coach at small Wagner College in New York City in the mid-1990s and controlled what Steve Spurrier was doing about 900 miles away.

Mullen even emulated the trademark Head Ball Coach hat.

"What did you do if you're a Florida Gator and you're going to start training? You start wearing the visor," Mullen said. "I do not know if I wear it as elegantly as (Spurrier) did, but I've always known how to throw one of them from time to time, but that's really why I started doing that in the first place."

Mullen, 45, brings his visor – and fortunately more points – to Gainesville.

The Gators formally presented Mullen on Monday. He signed a six-year, $ 36 million contract that makes him the sixth highest paid coach in college football and the second-highest paid at the Southeast Conference behind Nick Saban of Alabama.

Mullen's deal includes a $ 12 million purchase if Florida dismisses him without cause. It would cost Mullen $ 2 million to leave for any reason.

Neither side expects these protections to be used. That's because Mullen wants to be in Gainesville and appreciates the pressure that comes with the job. The Gators could not say the same for Chip Kelly or Scott Frost.

"I do not know if there's any place I'd rather be than here," Mullen said. "I do not know if there is a better job in the United States than here, you know, when you have that opportunity, you can not miss the opportunity to come to the main program in the country."

Florida has been away from the elite since Mullen left the city after the 2008 season to take over in the state of Mississippi.

The Gators averaged 36.3 points per game and 7.1 yards per game during Mullen's term (2005-08). They have mostly sizzled since then, finishing six of the last seven years in triple digits in total offense.

Mullen plans to fix that.

"Believe me, I know how important the offense is here," Mullen said. "I've been here and I know what this is all about, and I know that everyone likes to score some points.

"Coach Spurrier could argue with me, but I do not know if there is anyone in this room who likes to score points more than me, I love scoring points, we can score a hundred, I will continue, I love scoring points. funny."

One of the reasons why Florida separated from coach Jim McElwain last month was because he did not get the offense back to a respectable level.

Sports director Scott Stricklin also felt that McElwain did not have the proper infrastructure for success.

"I think it's critical," Stricklin said. "It's the backbone, I think any successful program has a really strong strength and conditioning program that builds responsibility, and I think programs that are not as successful are usually lacking in that area."

Stricklin hoped to hire Kelly, but the former Oregon coach with experience in the NFL rejected Florida from UCLA last week. According to reports, Frost of UCF said no thanks to the Gators through their representatives, letting Stricklin look elsewhere.

He went to a familiar place: Starkville, Mississippi.

Stricklin and Mullen worked together from 2009 to 2016. Stricklin, a graduate of the state of Mississippi, said he desperately wanted to find someone other than Mullen so he could avoid harming his alma mater.

"There is a personal price for me to make this decision, with my family, and that is going to be a challenge in the future," said Stricklin, who grew up in Jackson, Mississippi. "The only way I could rationalize that is that I get paid to make the best decision for the University of Florida … When I got to that point where I realized that Dan is the right man, I tweaked my belt and I said: & # 39; We have to do this. We have no choice & # 39; ".

Stricklin called Mullen last Friday, a day after the Bulldogs finished their regular season, and had a verbal agreement on the spot the following night.

In the future, Mullen will focus on recruiting as the early signing period begins on December 20. He also hopes to have his staff in place by the end of the year, with the coordinators being the main priorities.

After that, he hopes to play golf with Spurrier before putting the players in an exhausting off-season conditioning program that "they've never experienced before in their lives."

"Here is a mindset and a standard of expectations," Mullen said. "The program was not at the expected level of the fan base, of all those involved in the Gator Nation, and that's why I'm here."

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