Gators introduce new head coach Dan Mullen

Dan Mullen is suppose to come back to the school in December.

New Florida Gators head coach Dan Mullen made his return to Gainesville Monday.

The former Mississippi State head coach signed on to lead the Gators Sunday and was introduced to the media roughly 24 hours after making the decision.

UF athletic director Scott Stricklin made several calls to Mullen, who said they came to a decision this past weekend that they feel confident in.

 University of Florida fans have watched his work closely for years.

The new head coach served as the Gators' offensive coordinator during the most productive portion of Urban Meyer's run with the team. He developed Gators legend and former Heisman Trophy-winner Tim Tebow and helped lead Florida to two national championships in three seasons.

During his first press conference as head coach, Mullen looked back on his initial Gators run - from 2005 - 2008 - with great fondness.

Mullen worked as an offensive coordinator while at Florida for four years and he said it was an honor working during those times, which is why he is thrilled to be back with the Gators.

Mullen left to coach Mississippi State in 2009. The SEC squad appeared in a school-record eight-straight bowl games under Mullen's guidance.

Mullen created a winning environment in Starkville, posting three seasons of nine wins or more, which was also a top mark for the program.

During his first tenure as an SEC head coach, Mullen posted a 69-46 record.

Mullen has a reputation for being a quarterback developer. He helped elevate the play of Tebow, current Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and current Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith during their college heydays. 

The Gators have struggled to find a consistent quarterback since Tebow. Florida has gone through an underwhelming crop of quarterbacks over the last three seasons, losing games because the offense couldn't move the ball.

Mullen said he has a plan to find a significant, talented quarterback, but that person has to have certain qualities in order to succeed in the role.

"They have to have that mental and physical toughness," Mullen said. "You have to be a tremendous leader."

Several pundits and former players have praised the Gators' decision to hire Mullen. Tebow was among those who have welcomed Mullen back to the program.

 

 

Stricklin reportedly attempted to recruit former Oregon and NFL head coach Chip Kelly to Gainesville. When Kelly decided to take the top job at UCLA, the Gators' brain trust regrouped and made the move for the familiar face in Mullen.

Stricklin and Mullen worked together at Mississippi State.

Stricklin said during the news conference Monday that they held a "comprehensive search" which included "countless conversations with people throughout college football."

He also said the person they sought for the position had to have strong work ethic, great competitive drive and someone with great leadership ability. Mullen has that, Stricklin said.

Mullen inherits a program that has posted a 34-28 record over the last five seasons. The team won the SEC East in former coach Jim McElwain's first two seasons before this year's collapse.

However, the Gators have struggled against powerhouse rivals, going are a combined 3-5 against Alabama and Georgia over the last five seasons. The team is 0-5 against Florida State during that same time period.

Mullen will look to curb those struggles now that he is back with the Gators.

He added during the news conference Monday that he will "give relentless effort" to make Florida a national championship team once again.

"We will be the hardest playing team every single Saturday," Mullen said. "I'm thrilled to represent the state of Florida as the premier university."

Jaguars beat writer Mike Kaye and digital producer Tyler White contributed to this story.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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