Florida won't be Mullen it's future with this coach

One week after suffering the worst loss of his 13-year head coaching career, Florida’s Dan Mullen suffered his worst win. The collective toll of the accumulated embarrassments for Florida football has careened Mullen’s head coaching fate at Florida from a possibility of a departure to a virtual inevitability.

The single-most shocking half of football this 2021 college football season took place at Florida on Saturday, with a mediocre FCS team, Samford, scoring 42 points on the Gators. A sputtering Gators program so desperate for a spark that it fired its defensive coordinator and offensive line coach this week somehow managed to speed up the program’s regression. Florida responded by playing the worst half of defensive football in program history.

The 42 first-half points marked a program record by an opponent, and that’s mind-blowing considering Samford lost 55-13 to Chattanooga last month and is tied for fifth in the FCS Southern Conference.

There’s flat performances. There’s lifeless performances. There’s listless performances. And then there’s the performances that combine all those so obviously that they end coaching tenures, alter the financial futures of athletic departments and send reverberations throughout the coaching carousel.

And that’s ultimately how Florida’s 70-52 win over Samford will be remembered. The 15 penalties against Kentucky kicked off Mullen’s spiral, the late first-half collapse against Georgia perpetuated it and the blowout loss at South Carolina crystalized how severe the problems were. But the struggles with Samford transcend explanation, and barring something unforeseen ended any chance Mullen had to save his job.

Don’t expect Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin to act rashly. There are games at Missouri and home against Florida State left, and the school has already fired two veteran coaches — DC Todd Grantham and OL coach John Hevesy — leaving no obvious interim. Mullen is also the play caller, and no one on staff has close to his experience with that. There will be a final evaluation at the end of the season, but this is headed exactly where it appears.

The Gators didn’t appear significantly impacted by how the victory unfolded. Locker room video showed dancing, and Mullen called it a “great win” in his postgame television interview.

He added: “Calling a win a disappointment is disrespectful to the game.”

Mullen’s rhetoric has been off all season — pointing blame to players, fumbling questions about recruiting and generally leading with ego over humility. So it’s no surprise to see him fumble again in front of a microphone.

The reality for Mullen is that he’d built mountains of equity coming back to Gainesville — where he served as offensive coordinator on a pair of national title teams — and starting his tenure 29-6. But since then, the Gators have lost eight of 10 to Power Five programs and recently shown a spiral that speaks much more to engagement, effort and connection than to schematics or even overall talent.

Florida is flailing, and at the start of a three-game referendum on their coach’s future, Florida’s defensive players did nothing demonstrably to show they wanted him back. They yielded the most yards an SEC school ever allowed to an FCS program, the strategy of firing a coordinator in-season backfiring. With 31-year-old linebacker coach Christian Robinson thrust into the awkward position of calling the first game of his career, there was no discernible bump in energy or effort.

Same as it has been. According to ESPN stats & info, Florida’s four-game total of giving up 175 points is the most the school has allowed in more than a century.

Parting ways with Mullen isn’t untenable. We’ve reached the point in the SEC — and college football in general — where paying $12 million to fire a coach isn’t even considered all that expensive. There’s no buyout incentive to keep Mullen, as he’d also get $12 million if he’s fired next year.

With Mullen’s future in the balance, his players answered the question on Saturday afternoon. They laid down for a historically bad performance. Much like Ron Zook’s tenure will be tied to losing to Mississippi State and Will Muschamp never got over losing to Georgia Southern, Mullen’s first half against Samford will reverberate in Florida infamy.

Florida coach Dan Mullen looks on during the third quarter of a game against Vanderbilt on Oct. 09. (James Gilbert/Getty Images)
Florida coach Dan Mullen looks on during the third quarter of a game against Vanderbilt on Oct. 09. (James Gilbert/Getty Images)

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source https://sports.yahoo.com/college-football-takeaways-shaky-win-against-samford-all-but-buries-dan-mullen-034516373.html?src=rss

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