The college football coaching carousel didn’t take long to come completely off the rails. Look no further than Knoxville, where Tennessee is reportedly poised to bring in Greg Schiano and the backlash is furious. And not just because he’s not Jon Gruden. Chip Kelly is off to UCLA, bringing his typical high risk and high reward. Arizona State and Texas A&M are still searching.
More attractive gigs may become available and name brands inked to meaty deals. But from where I sit, the Florida Gators have made the most sensible — and possibly best — hire of the offseason in Dan Mullen.
Mullen returns to Gainesville, where he served as offensive coordinator from 2005-08, after becoming the second-winningest coach in Mississippi State history. He returns to a program desperate for an offensive identity and competency. He returns with success stories Alex Smith, Tim Tebow, and Dak Prescott under his belt.
Florida is 109th in scoring this year, were 107th last year, and 99th in 2015. The defense, on the other hand, has been stellar and even imposing. The Gators have won football games because of the defense, often times in spite of the offense.
What Mullen brings with him is a dynamic offensive system. It is more open and less conservative than whatever has been on display in recent years. Fun N’ Gun it is not, but at least there’s some potential for big plays.
Finding high-end offensive talent in the Sunshine State shouldn’t ever be an issue. Mullen has a proven track record of developing it. His hire makes a Florida offer significantly more alluring to high school stars. If the Gators can continue to field a solid defense, Mullen’s improved attack should pay immediate dividends.
Outside of Georgia, the rest of the SEC East is very beatable. It’s not unreasonable to expect Florida to finish second next year, and perhaps even get back to a respectable 9-3.
Of course, funny things happen and the best-laid plans come apart. On paper, though, Mullen is a great hire and a perfect fit. Give Florida credit for not overthinking it and making a drama-free transition into its future — one I see as being very bright.