Here's why Mullen might succeed at Florida - or why he could fail
According to multiple reports, Florida has hired Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen as its next head coach. Mullen, who spent the last nine seasons leading the Bulldogs, was 69-44 as the team’s head coach. He arrives in Florida with a well-earned reputation as an offensive guru, but he will face a mountain of expectations at his new gig. Below, Rivals.com takes a look at three reason Mullen might succeed at Florida - and two reasons why he may fail.
WHY HE WILL SUCCEED
1. HIS SEC PEDIGREE: There should be no culture shock here. Mullen knows the ropes in the SEC and has proven he can win in the league. It’s not often that a program gets to hire a coach that has already auditioned at the highest level of college football and passed the test. Mullen’s 69 coaching victories have all come at an SEC program. This is not taking a flyer on an up-and-comer or giving a coordinator a shot. Mullen knows what it takes to win in college football’s most competitive conference and won’t be blinded by the bright lights.
2. HIS TIES TO THE STATE/PROGRAM: Mullen has served as an assistant at Florida and knows the lay of the land in the state. Since arriving at Mississippi State, Mullen has done some supplemental recruiting in Florida and maintains a number of contacts in the area. Now at the state’s only SEC school, Mullen should be able to immediately get the attention of the recruiting hotbed’s top-flight players because his name comes with a semblance of cache and his relationships with coaches and trainers are strong. Sometimes, there’s a learning curve that comes with recruiting Florida, but that should be less of an obstacle because of Mullen’s history.
3. HE’S DEVLOPED QUARTERBACKS: Mullen, in part, has been hired to fix an offense that has been broken for several years. That starts with the quarterback, and the good news is that Mullen is a bit of an expert when it comes to developing those. Alex Smith, Tim Tebow and Dak Prescott were all Mullen pupils, and all landed on NFL rosters. Mullen has landed elite prospects at the position, but has also developed three-star players into NFL prospects. This hire was made with offense in mind. And, from that standpoint, has to be seen as a home run. If Mullen can’t spark the Gators’ offense, it’s unclear who can.
WHY HE WILL FAIL
HE’S NOT WON ANYTHING OF NOTE: Mullen has experienced some semblance of SEC success, but if he hopes to hang around at Florida for any extended period, he’ll need to win a trophy or two. Mullen has won 10 games just once in his time at Mississippi State and is now walking into a situation where 10 wins is the baseline of success. The Florida job comes with massive expectations and a fan base that is tired of toiling in mediocrity. The very record that made him “successful” at Mississippi State could land him in hot water at UF, as Mullen is a pedestrian 33-39 in SEC games.
BECAUSE THE JOB ISN’T THAT EASY: Everything from location to conference affiliation to history suggests it’s not difficult to win at Florida, but nobody’s done it at a high level since Urban Meyer walked away following the 2010 season. Only four coaches in program history have won more than nine games in a season. The fact that Florida State seems to be on a downward swing may help a bit but becoming the state’s top program, let alone the SEC’s, won’t be easy.