Things aren’t great in Gainesville right now. The Gators are off to a 1-1 start in Billy Napier’s second season, looking uninspired in a 24-11 loss to Utah. They now enter SEC play with a matchup against Tennessee.
Former head coach Dan Mullen weighed in on that matchup this week, irking Florida fans with his pregame analysis.
A season opening defeat to Utah played out as many predicted for the Gators, particularly on offense. The team was unable to move the ball consistently with transfer quarterback Graham Mertz, resulting in UF falling behind by three touchdowns early in the second half.
With the Vols rolling into town this week, a similar result could be in store.
Prior to season’s start, most pegged the Gators as a cellar dweller in the SEC. Some went as far as to say Napier would be fired by year’s end. Former head coach Dan Mullen appears to be one of the critics, believing the Gators have been on a downward trend since he left the sidelines.
The University of Florida has seen a string of unsuccessful hires as they look to restore the program to former glory. Under the likes of Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer, the Gators brought home three national titles.
Now, they’re on their fourth coach in a decade.
Will Muschamp, John McElwain, and Dan Mullen each lasted less than four seasons at Florida, all being fired midseason. Mullen was the most successful of the bunch, posting a 34-15 overall record and making an SEC Championship appearance (52-46 loss to Alabama in 2020).
Twice his teams won 10 games or more, but his final year in the Swamp was tumultuous.
Not only did the Gators struggle on the field, finishing the year 6-7, but they also saw a dip on the recruiting trail. Most linked that to the notion that Mullen was searching for an NFL job, already having one foot out the door.
Before he could make that decision, Florida fired him.
He never got that NFL opportunity, and instead turned to television. Now an analyst for ESPN, he often gives his takes on teams around the Southeastern Conference.
Thursday, Mullen previewed Florida’s upcoming matchup with Tennessee. He sent a major jab the Gators’ way while giving that analysis.
“Florida might not be where they were a couple of years ago…” pic.twitter.com/Bjf8IbEcOT
— Matt Hayes (@MattHayesCFB) September 14, 2023
“This is a huge game to go on the road and play at Florida,” Mullen says before sending a backhanded compliment of sorts. “Now, Florida might not be where they were a couple years ago, but they’re still Florida. They’re still going to be a good team. It’s still the Swamp on a Saturday night.”
You can see the former head coach holding back a smile, knowing his words will spark a reaction.
A “couple of years ago,” Mullen was walking the sidelines in Gainesville in hopes of rebuilding an SEC power. It didn’t work out, and now Billy Napier is trying his best to do the same.
Florida is ready to move on, though, and they’re hoping Billy Napier is their guy.
Napier went 6-7 in Year 1 despite having No. 4 overall pick Anthony Richardson under center. Another losing year is expected at UF, but maybe the Gators will give this head coach a bit more time before canning him.