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University of Florida fires head football coach Dan Mullen

The fourth-year head coach won two New Year’s Six Bowl games in his first two seasons. But a middling fourth season forced UF to make a change.
Credit: AP
Florida head coach Dan Mullen leaves the field after the Peach Bowl NCAA college football game against Michigan, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, in Atlanta. Florida won 41-15. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

We are living in the age of the College Football Playoff. The Florida Gators play in the SEC. Nothing less than competing for a national title is acceptable. New Year’s Six Bowl games don’t hold quite the same weight as they used to.

And so, for the second time in five years and third time this decade, the Florida Gators were forced to make a change at the helm of their storied football program.

The University and fourth-year head coach Dan Mullen announced they would be parting ways today, the University officially announced around 1:45 p.m. Sunday. In four seasons in Gainesville, Mullen compiled a record of 34-15, including 21-13 in the SEC. Mullen’s Gators won the 2018 Peach Bowl over Michigan and the 2019 Orange Bowl over Virginia. After an SEC Championship Game runner-up finish to Alabama in 2020, the Gators were routed by Okahoma in the Cotton Bowl.

Special Teams coordinator Greg Knox will serve as interim head coach when the Gators face rival Florida State on Saturday at noon. 

Mullen's 2021 squad came roaring out of the gate with a 3-1 mark, with its one loss to perennial power Alabama by just two points. In the weeks that followed, the Gators went just 2-5, with just one win over another SEC school (lowly Vanderbilt) and zero road victories. Mullen fired his longtime defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and longtime assistant and offensive line coach John Hevesy on November 8. The next week, the Gators surrendered a Florida Field record 52 points to FCS Samford. All the while, the Gators endured a “quarterback carousel,” with Mullen continuing to flip-flop between redshirt junior Emory Jones and the flashy redshirt freshman, Anthony Richardson. Moreover, Mullen’s upcoming recruiting class continued to suffer as the losses piled; as of this writing, Florida’s Class of 2022 recruiting class is ranked 12th by 247Sports and 34th by Rivals.

Sources confirmed to First Coast News that the University administration had told Mullen that if his team could win-out and he could hire a fresh, new set of assistant coaches, he would be given another shot at rebuilding the Gators.

After an overtime loss to Missouri in which the Gators had multiple chances to win the game, that opportunity to rebuild will never come to pass.