From the moment Dan Mullen touched down in Gainesville last Monday, giving the Gator Chomp on his way off the plane, and on through his appearances the rest of the week, it’s been clear it was an easy decision for him to say yes to Florida.
Mullen has made quite an impression in his first week as the Gators’ new football coach, and he reiterated to his former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow during an interview on SEC Nation on Saturday that this opportunity was different than whatever others have come his way in recent years.
“It’s inside of you. Through the years we’ve had some opportunities, people have called, expressed interest. And I’m going to tell you, last Saturday, it kind of changed,” Mullen said. “I got a call from [Florida athletic director] Scott Stricklin. He said, ‘Hey, you’re 1 of 1 on our list.’ And I hung up the phone, went out, looked at my wife Megan and I’m like, ‘Yeah, just got the call and Scott says we’re 1 of 1 at Florida.’ … She said she could just see it in my face that that was very different than any phone call we’ve ever received.
“Because I know what a special place it is. You know what a special place it is. But she could tell, at that moment everything changed, just by looking at my face. We’ve had discussions and talks. This one was different.”
Mullen spent four seasons as the offensive coordinator at Florida from 2005-08, winning two national championships on Urban Meyer’s staff before a nine-year run as the coach at Mississippi State.
Mullen is second all-time in wins at Mississippi State, going 69-46 overall (33-39 in the SEC) at a school at which it has been historically proven very difficult to win. He posted a 10-win season, two 9-win seasons and an 8-4 mark this fall before bowl season at a program that had just one season of more than 8 wins since 1981 prior to his arrival.
Along the way, he says he learned a lot of lessons about being a head coach that have made him ready now to take over a Florida program with unrelenting high expectations.
“Just so much. Day 1, your first day you go sit in that chair as a head coach, it’s a ‘Wow.’ I know Urban Meyer did an unbelievable job, still does, with his assistants of preparing you and trying to help you for that role when you get an opportunity,” Mullen said. “Because I walked into the head coach’s office in Gainesville, pulled that chair back, sat down and I was like, ‘This is it. I’m home. I’m where I want to be.'”