Dan Mullen to a shaky end in Florida – .

Dan Mullen to a shaky end in Florida – .

A week after suffering the worst loss in his 13-year coaching career, Dan Mullen of Florida claimed his worst victory. The collective toll of embarrassment accumulated for Florida football has turned Mullen’s Florida head coach fate from a possibility of departure to a near-inevitability.
The most shocking half of football this 2021 college football season came in Florida on Saturday, with mediocre FCS team Samford scoring 42 points over the Gators. A Gators’ program shaking so desperately in search of a spark that it fired its defensive coordinator and offensive lineman this week somehow managed to hasten the regression of the program. Florida responded by playing the worst half of defensive football in program history.

The 42 points in the first half marked a program record by an opponent, and it’s mind-boggling considering Samford lost 55-13 to Chattanooga last month and is tied for fifth in the FCS Southern Conference.

There is flat performance. There are lifeless performances. There are listless performances. And then there are the performances that combine all of this in such an obvious way that they end coaching mandates, change the financial future of athletic departments, and send reverberations through the entire coaching carousel.

And that’s how Florida’s 70-52 victory over Samford will ultimately be remembered. The 15 penalties against Kentucky sparked Mullen’s downward spiral, the late first-half collapse against Georgia perpetuated it, and the loss to South Carolina crystallized the gravity of the issues. But the struggles with Samford transcend explanation and, barring the unforeseen, ended any chance Mullen had to save his job.

Don’t expect Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin to act recklessly. There are games left at Missouri and at home against Florida State, and the school has already fired two veteran coaches – DC Todd Grantham and OL coach John Hevesy – leaving no obvious interim. Mullen is also the game caller, and no one on the staff has close to his experience with this. There will be a final evaluation at the end of the season, but this one goes exactly where it appears.

The Gators didn’t appear to be significantly impacted by how the victory unfolded. The locker room video showed dancing, and Mullen called it a “big win” in his post-match TV interview.

He added: “To call a victory a disappointment is disrespectful to the game.”

Mullen’s rhetoric has been absent all season – blaming players, fumbling with recruiting questions and generally leading egoally over humility. So it’s no surprise to see him grope again in front of a microphone.

The reality for Mullen is that he had built mountains of equity by coming back to Gainesville – where he served as the offensive coordinator on a pair of national title teams – and starting his tenure 29-6. But since then, the Gators have lost eight of Power Five’s 10 programs and recently showed a spiral that speaks a lot more about commitment, effort and connection than patterns or even overall talent.

Florida are struggling and at the start of a three-game referendum on their coach’s future, Florida defensive players did nothing to show they wanted him back. They have ceded the most work sites that an SEC school has ever authorized to an FCS program, the strategy of firing a coordinator during the season. While 31-year-old linebacker coach Christian Robinson found himself in the awkward position of calling the first game of his career, there was no noticeable bump in the energy or the effort.

Even that it was. According to statistics and information from ESPN, Florida’s four-game total with 175 points is the most the school has allowed in over a century.

Separating from Mullen is not untenable. We’ve reached the point in the SEC – and college football in general – where paying $ 12 million to fire a coach isn’t even considered that expensive. There is no buyout incentive to keep Mullen, as he would also get $ 12 million if he was laid off next year.

With Mullen’s future on the line, his players answered the question on Saturday afternoon. They set themselves up for a historically poor performance. Just as Ron Zook’s tenure will be tied to a loss to Mississippi State and Will Muschamp never got over his loss to Georgia Southern, Mullen’s first half against Samford will reverberate in Florida infamy. .

Florida coach Dan Mullen watches during the third quarter of a game against Vanderbilt on October 9. (James Gilbert / Getty Images)


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