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Is Florida Gator Coach Dan Mullen Leaving for the NFL?

January 3, 2021

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ATHENS - Nothing has happened yet, but there is smoke that Florida Gators coach Dan Mullen could be looking to jump ship and head to the NFL. 

That’s what ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday: that Mullen is “open to going to the pros.” That’s not the same as saying he will leave; it isn’t the same as saying someone is interested; but it is a name that’s being floated out there. FOX’s Jay Glazer didn’t have the Florida coach on his list of potential NFL head coaches, but he did include former Ohio State, Utah and Gator coach Urban Meyer

Having your name on a list that’s being reported is one thing; not shutting it down quick is another.  Ohio State’s Ryan Day pretty well stopped the notion of him leaving Columbus through back channels. 

We haven’t seen that yet with Mullen, and we’ve seen a lot from him this year. Wants-to-fight Mullen; post-Cotton Bowl Mullen; Darth Mullen. He’s given folks a lot of looks, but looking to go to the NFL?

There have been whispers about this, but whispers - not chatter. 

The Cotton Bowl is what’s changed here. That result, and the post-game debacle that followed, coupled with the curious loss to LSU seems to have that program on wobbly ground it didn’t seem like it would be on when we all left Jacksonville. 

Then again, since then the Gators have lost three times - twice in inexplicable ways.

The question for Georgia fans, and probably those in Knoxville and at FSU, is: Do you really want Dan Mullen gone? With him there you know what you have got - a guy who has gotten the Gators on the path to being better than they were under Jim McElwain and Will Muschamp, but nowhere near what Urban Meyer was able to accomplish while in Gainesville. 

Things could certainly get better for the Gators, but they could get worse, too. Florida was once a destination job - at least it feels that way - but that’s not been the case for Meyer, McElwain, Muschamp or even Steve Spurrier. All four of them left Florida have have coached elsewhere since.

If Mullen were to check out for the NFL would that be the reason he and Todd Grantham, with his NFL ties, have stuck together so far this offseason? That relationship seemed dead in the water months ago… and yet it persists. 

If Mullen were to check out for the NFL, who would want him? Dallas? Jacksonville? The Jets? THE FALCONS?

More importantly for UGA and the SEC: Who would replace him? That’s a good question, and the answer is probably not an obvious one. Texas coach Steve Sarkisian would have made a logical choice, but that ship has sailed. 

Bringing back Meyer to this SEC? That seems unlikely. He left Florida for a season - an easier path in the fall, and to get away from the wear and tear that is coaching in the SEC. Also, the league has changed since he left. A&M and Missouri have arrived; Nick Saban’s power is firm; and Kirby Smart has made Georgia into a power. 

It is hard to know what to make of this entire situation. It’s not like this will effect recruiting in any way. That’s virally done for the 2021 cycle, and by the time 2022 rolls around if Mullen is still in Gainesville that problem will be solve by him being around. 

This could be a bunch of smoke, or it could be a way for Mullen to grab a little more money and security in Gainesville. Then again, he’s in the midst of a six-year, nearly $36 million contract. In March, the Gators and Mullen were set to have a contract extension, but there’s been no further reporting on that since the pandemic started to handcuff college sports later that month. 

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Tags: Dan Mullen
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