Take Two: Can Dan Mullen return Florida to national prominence?
Take Two returns with a daily offering tackling a handful of issues in the college football landscape. Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst Adam Gorney lays out the situation and then receives takes from Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell and a local expert from the Rivals.com network of team sites.
Florida finished 4-7 last season, its only wins coming against Tennessee, Kentucky, Vanderbilt and UAB. The offense looked awful for large portions of the season especially against opponents with a heartbeat.
But now former Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen has taken over in Gainesville, an outstanding offensive mind who helped lead the Gators to national titles when he was offensive coordinator there. He turned the Mississippi State program into a serious player in a loaded SEC West.
Can he quickly turn Florida back into an SEC champ again? It won’t be easy, even in his own division. Georgia just played for a national title and if not for a miraculous second-half performance by Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa would probably have won the championship. Georgia currently has the fourth-best recruiting class. Florida is No. 20.
The Bulldogs are certainly not going anywhere. South Carolina is getting better and Tennessee is rebuilding.
But Mullen is making Florida fun again like it was when Tim Tebow was playing quarterback and Percy Harvin was at receiver and the Gators were humming. That level of player might not be in Gainesville yet but the thinking is Mullen could recruit those players again and make Florida a national power again. He’s proven himself in Starkville, a nearly impossible place to win.
Can he get Florida back to national prominence - and quickly?
FIRST TAKE: MICHAEL PHILLIPS, GATORSTERRITORY.COM
"Dan Mullen absolutely can make Florida an SEC East contender again. And he can do it this year. The schedule shakes up very favorably and Mullen has already made big strides in restoring the program back to where it was when it was at the top, most notably with the strength program. He brought in new strength coach Nick Savage, who has already changed players’ bodies.
"Mullen’s biggest selling point in the spring was making Florida fun and exciting again and getting back to that 'Gator standard.' He caters his offense around his quarterbacks which will help whoever takes the reigns whether it’s Kyle Trask or Feleipe Franks.
"He has work to do on the recruiting trail, but he brought in good classes while in Starkville, and Florida is not Mississippi State.
"His new defensive scheme fits the players Florida has and new DC Todd Grantham should have a great unit. Finishing 4-7 seems like it is a ways away from getting back to competing for East titles and getting to Atlanta, but this wasn’t a 4-7 roster. A new coach who 'gets it,' and brings in a fresh energy along with a great strength coach and QB-friendly system, Florida can absolutely contend for an SEC East crown."
SECOND TAKE: MIKE FARRELL, RIVALS.COM
"Georgia will rule the SEC East at least for the next few years. The recruiting is at the highest level I’ve seen, it has a ton of momentum coming off playing for the national title and the coaching staff has proven it can develop and get the most out of players. The SEC East is cyclical when it comes to power so Florida could return to glory, but not for a few more years based on what I see from Georgia right now.”