Florida’s newest head coach is a former assistant.
The Gators made the hire of Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen official on Sunday. Mullen, a former offensive coordinator for the Gators, has spent the last nine seasons as the Bulldogs’ coach.
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Mullen, 45, was hired by Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin, who was previously the coach’s boss at Mississippi State. Stricklin replaced Jeremy Foley as Florida’s athletic director this summer. Before he joined Mississippi State, Mullen was Florida’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2005-08 under now-Ohio State coach Urban Meyer.
“Megan and I are very excited to get back to Gainesville and the University of Florida,” Mullen said. “I have such great memories of the championships we won during our time here and have a love for Florida. We are happy to be coming back to such a supportive administration, staff, student body and fan base, which is the premier football program in the country.
“We will give relentless effort in everything that we do on and off the field. Our commitment will match the passion that the Gator Nation has for this program.”
Added Stricklin: “I strongly believe Dan is the most prepared candidate to have immediate and long-term success at the University of Florida. Coach Mullen is one of the best offensive minds in all of college football, and has an unbelievable track record in tutoring successful quarterbacks (such as Alex Smith, Chris Leak, Tim Tebow, Dak Prescott and Nick Fitzgerald).
“Coach Mullen will do a tremendous job in developing accountability and toughness through a well-coordinated strength and conditioning program. Dan will work closely with the coaching staff, academic advising staff and administrative team to give every student athlete he coaches the opportunity to grow and excel at a high level athletically, academically and socially.”
The hiring of Mullen comes a day after Florida ended the regular season with a loss to Florida State to finish the season at 4-7. The Gators played the last four games of the regular season under the direction of interim coach Randy Shannon after the firing of Jim McElwain. Earlier Sunday, Yahoo Sports reported Mullen was the Gators’ coaching target.
McElwain was fired after he made vague statements alluding to death threats received after Florida’s porous start. The school then said McElwain didn’t provide details regarding the threats and he was fired following the team’s 42-7 loss to Georgia, the next game after the threat reference.
Mississippi State finished the 2017 at 8-4 with a loss Thursday night to rival Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl. Star MSU QB Nick Fitzgerald suffered a dislocated ankle in the first half of the game. Mullen has won eight games in five of his nine seasons with Mississippi State and finished his tenure with a record of 69-46.
Mississippi State president Mark E. Keenum said the school has already begun its search for a new head coach.
“We’ve built a football program at Mississippi State that has enjoyed unprecedented success over the last nine seasons. Dan Mullen has been the catalyst of that success and we wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors. It’s a tribute to Dan and to MSU that he has drawn the interest of several premier football programs around the country. Dan’s tenure at MSU coincides with my own and we’ve had a chance to do some special things together for our loyal fans and friends,” Keenum said.
“In anticipation of this development, MSU has already begun the process of an orderly and expeditious transition to new and exciting leadership for our football program. I have shared my vision with Athletics Director John Cohen and I am confident that John will move quickly and decisively to fill our coaching vacancy with the best possible person to build on the success of our program.”
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