Ryan Young/SEC Country
Florida coach Dan Mullen hit the road across the state this week to talk with Gators' booster clubs, including earlier this week in Lakeland, Fla.

Dan Mullen says Florida football has ‘fallen behind a little bit,’ determined to get it back on top

Ryan Young

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Dan Mullen wraps up busy week with appearance in Miami

Florida football coach Dan Mullen has spoken to large gatherings of fans in Lakeland, Fort Lauderdale and Miami this week, reiterating much the same message along the way.

That is the point of this speaking tour, after all — to emphasize how much he feels the Gators need the fans to do their part in resurrecting the proud program after it bottomed out at 4-7 last fall.

At each of his stops this week, he has used the spring game as a telling example of what he means. Florida reported more than 51,000 fans for the Orange & Blue game and had a stronger turnout for the Gator Walk arrival than for any regular-season game in at least the last couple years.

That, he says, speaks to both how things had gotten off track, but also the response he’s seen in his short time back in Gainesville.

“That’s unbelievable that the best Gator Walk they’ve experienced was during the spring game. That’s not right. That’s not what this program was built on. That’s not the Gators that I know,” Mullen said. “The Gators I know, it is sold out, wild, hardest stadium, toughest atmosphere to play in America. … You run out of that tunnel and it is electric. And that is what we have to get everything back to.”

His main theme has been that the fans are very much a part of jump-starting the program back on the way to national contention again.

Mullen is a bridge to the Gators’ last glory era as the offensive coordinator on Urban Meyer’s 2006 and 2008 national championship teams. That’s how he remembers Florida football, and that’s what he expects it to be again.

“The surprise, I think, is we’ve fallen behind a little bit in certain areas,” he said Tuesday night in Fort Lauderdale. “Whether it be facilities, whether it be crowd support, whether it be just the passion, energy and excitement I’m used to seeing from when I was here before. You’ve got to understand, for me, I’m seeing [it] back that way. I’m seeing we’re having an unbelievable crowd here tonight, we had an unbelievable crowd last night, for the spring game, I’m seeing that energy and that excitement that everyone tells me has been missing.

“So that is probably the thing that surprises me, that somehow we let — and I say we, we’re all in this together — that somehow we let our standard slip a little bit in everybody and what it is to be a Gator and our standards and expectations. But I’m really excited to see the energy and the passion and the enthusiasm everyone has to get that Gator Standard back and to get it back in a hurry.”

Meanwhile, here are a couple topics he covered Wednesday night in Miami as it relates to the team on the field:

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In Florida football news

Recruiting roundup

  • SEC Country’s Zach Abolverdi talks to 4-star cornerback Chester Kimbrough of New Orleans about his interest in the Gators. Kimbrough named Florida his No. 1 school after visiting for the spring game. “One thing I rely on is communication, and the communication with me is there,” Kimbrough said when asked how the Gators have maintained their lead. “They have a good relationship with me and that’s what Florida is doing. They just keep it 100 with me and they tell me a lot.” Read more here.
  • Mullen doesn’t like the idea of signing two quarterbacks in the same class. Here’s what he said on the matter.

In Florida baseball news …

Basketball buzz

  • The story of Armon Gates’ abrupt departure from Florida after just a few weeks on staff as an assistant coach remains bizarre. According to the Omaha World-Herald, Gators is making about $100,000 less now at Nebraska while continuing to state that it was purely his decision to leave the Gators.

What they’re saying on Twitter

  • Gators nationally-ranked across the board:

  • Nathan Pickering, a defensive end ranked a top-50 overall recruit on the 247Sports composite, is laboring over his college choice — while donning a Gators uniform in his photo:

  • Athlon ranked all of the projected SEC starting quarterbacks, plugging in Feleipe Franks for Florida:

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