EXCLUSIVE: Dan Mullen reflects on time as Florida Gators head coach
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - The Gators’ former head football coach sat down with TV20′s Steve Russell to reflect on his time at the University of Florida.
Mullen coached the Gators from 2018 until 2021.
“Another college football season is right around the corner, and here to talk to us about that is former Mississippi State head coach and former Gator head coach Dan Mullen. Dan, thanks for doing this. You have a new gig with ESPN, tell us about that?” asked Russell.
“Well, I guess all my years in football have helped out, at the end of the last season, I went to the SEC Championship Game and the National Championship Game, working with ESPN and al their people in studio. I’m excited to be part of the team , work with them be on air, talk some football, stay in the business, and see a different side of things,” Mullen said.
“Urban Meyer has done something like this. How different will this be for you in this new job?” asked Russell.
“It’s going to be fun, it’s going to be a change, a change in lifestyle, a change in family time, but still being involved in the game talking football, and getting to see it from a little different perspective is going to be a lot of fun,” Mullen said.
“Dan how different is the SEC landscape from when you started coaching, it’s really competitive, how different is that?” asked Russell.
“I think it’s pretty similar. The one thing that separates the SEC from the other conferences is that there are 14 fan bases who expect to win the championship every single year. A lot of leagues you’re looking at one or two favorites in the league, or a couple of teams that can contend. But in the SEC, the fan bases, the teams, everyone, it’s not just the top end teams, it is that little bit of separation, the depth the league has from top to bottom that makes it the best league in football,” Mullen said.
“Dan you had a taste of this when you coached at Florida, but Name, Image, & Likeness, is such a big deal in college football. How do you think that’s going to change the landscape of the sport?” asked Russell.
“We’ll find out. I was on the ground floor working with the NCAA on this about 4-5 years ago with the oversight committee, it’s just something that’s very different. I said college football in the next five years is going to be very different from what everybody knows. You’re starting to see that really come around. It started with transfers, then Name, Image, & Likeness, and then expansions of conferences. I don’t know if it’s going to be better or worse, I just know it’s going to be different, so I think people have to get used to a different life in college football,” Mullen said.
“Dan you’ve had some time to reflect on last season. As you reflect, can you pinpoint what went wrong, look back at some things and figure out what didn’t go right?” asked Russell.
“Yeah, last year was obviously a disappointing year. In our first three years to go to New Year’s Six bowl games, we felt there were some things going in the right direction for us, felt last year was going to be a bit of a rebuilding year, and as you look at the year, the way it finished, that’s the business. College football is proper forming, and it’s what have you done for me lately for the coaches and fans, and I know the Florida fan base, I love the Florida fans base and everybody in Gator Nation. But the expectations in this job are extremely high and we didn’t continue that growth that we needed to over that last year, it kind of started with the bowl game the year before, we didn’t perform at the level we needed to and that’s not going to cut it in college football these days,” Mullen said.
“It’s easy to say I could have done this differently or could have done that differently. But I’ve never been someone to--I analyze things, but what happened happened, and you might get another opportunity down the road, see what happens. It’s amazing what it can bring for you in life, I’m a big believer in that. As one door closes, another one opens, and for myself, the ability to spend some time with my family has been fantastic. We also have a clinic opening up Gainesville, I’m part owner of the QC Kinetix, we have a clinic opening in Gainesville. Great, regenerative medicine for people to avoid surgeries with joint pain, and to be able to have regenerative medicine and avoid surgery, so to be honest with you, I’ve been able to see some different things outside of football that I never knew existed, when you see coaches they live in this shell world, where everything revolves around football 24-7, 365, it’s been great to experience other things in life.”
“Dan, upon that reflection, has recruiting changed, with NIL and all that, has the recruiting landscape changed in how that works?” asked Russell.
“I think it’s very different, I remember back in the day, the opportunity to get a college scholarship and get a college degree and how you would use that to parlay for yourself later in life, a lot of that had changed with the opportunity to make money right now, and the opportunity to profit off your name, image, and likeness--college football has grown, it’s a big business and it’s expanded, and expanded the opportunity for the players and that kind of leaks down to the recruiting side of things in getting guys to come to the school,” Mullen said.
“I know you have a brand new gig here, Dan, but would you consider coaching again in college or the NFL, is that something you’d think about if the right offer came through?” asked Russell.
“You never know what the future is going to hold, I love the game of football, I’ll love being around it, there’s always, whether it be college, the NFL, or on the broadcast side I think football is always going to be a big part of my life. We’ll see, I think a lot depends on my family, the time I can spend with my family and the situations we’re in. That’s what makes life living, you don’t know what’s going to happen or what opportunities will come up, but we’ll just take them as they come and see what fits for our family,” Mullen said.
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