Major Wright knows how to win a national title. His experience with Florida’s championship team in 2008 is one of the primary reasons Gators coach Dan Mullen asked him to speak with his team last month.
During his visit, the former NFL safety saw some players who gave him looks as if to say, “We don’t need to hear this.” But he came away encouraged by the team’s overall attitude.
“I think the guys got the message about us winning and keeping tradition going and what it takes to win,” Wright told SEC Country last week in preparation for his flag-football game with Danny Wuerffel and other ex-Gators. “How it’s within the team; if everybody can push each other, then nobody can stop ‘em. And that’s the mindset that we had when we were at Florida. We got each other better. Percy Harvin. Joe Haden. You know, the Pounceys. Pushing each other. And we had one common goal: winning the national championship. That’s what we wanted to do, and we did it.”
Wright sees Mullen as the driving factor behind a hypothetical championship run.
“First off, they’ve got the coach,” he said. “The coach’s mentality is to win, and Dan Mullen’s gonna get it up outta them. I think they’re headed in the right direction.”
Asked about his time with Mullen at Florida in the late 2000s, Wright remembered an offensive coordinator who kept his calm under pressure.
“To be honest, man, he’s so cool. He’s so chill,” the recently retired NFL vet said. “He has winning in him. He’s learned it from one of the best in the game right now: Urban Meyer.”
It’s been a long decade for Florida fans since that ’08 title. The program has gone 0-3 in conference championship games since, and a few particularly ugly seasons — including the surprising 4-7 campaign last year — have knocked the Gators down a peg in the national conversation.
In particular, Wright said, the once-dominant defense has been cringeworthy at times.
“It’s been very disappointing, to know that we’re not playing at the level we know we can play at,” Wright said. “Shoot, we’ve got all the talent. We have all the pieces. We’ve just gotta put them together. And to put them together, it takes a great coach like Dan Mullen. It takes leaders on the team to get everything together. To make everybody buy in to the system that Dan Mullen is running.
“So I think they have it. I think they have all the pieces. They’ve just gotta put it together and get back to that ‘08 championship defense and play lights out and say, ‘We’re not going to allow anything.’”