By: Robert Craft
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
Well, here we are in the smoldering aftermath of the Damn Mullen era at UF.
It was fun at first, but ultimately, bad roots produced bad fruits.
Mullen is gone and before we turn to the excitement of the coaching search, here are a few takeaways that I think we should all keep in mind for the future:
CFB is a recruiting game; recruiting sorts out all the small details on the field automatically- There are no “master developers”, Portal Kombat is a fantasy, and coaching only beats talent when talent isn’t coached.
Want to know if your team is on the path to an SEC Championship? Show me a composite top-5 class or a superstar QB. Until 30 years of history are proven wrong, that’s reality for today’s game.
Long-term rebuilds are like unicorns. I love the idea, but I sure can’t find one. Only 2 coaches since the early 90s have won their first SEC after year 3 at a school. One had a #1 overall class (Fulmer at Tennessee in 97) and one had a superstar QB (Tuberville at Auburn in 04). But again, winning fast means recruiting fast.
Dan Mullen is not Dabo Swinney and UF is not Clemson 2007. Assembling a great first staff and quickly acquiring a top-notch QB are huge. I could go on at length about this, but instead I’ll offer my evidence in six words: Knox over Seider. Jones over Corral. So, yeah. Watch this carefully over the next year.
The offensive line is still THE biggest personnel issue on this team, dating back to the Meyer era, and it must be fixed if the program is going anywhere.
The program stopped signing quality in numbers at the position around 2010 and it has been crippling to one degree or another ever since. Unlike other positions, the unit comprises almost a quarter of the starting 22, and this lack of excellence can’t continue.
The Gator program must recruit Florida’s elite athletes better if they’re to rise. There’s no way around it. They can’t make up for the home state futility in California, with a national approach, or through the portal.
An entirely new approach to recruiting is necessary that exploits every advantage and loophole. Bags and facilities are tools, but they weren’t why Mullen sucked. Lack of effort, lack of communication, lack of organization, lack of creativity, and lack of having more were the reasons.
It’s time for the program to be transformed into a recruiting organization first and foremost. They must find ways to capitalize on what the rules allow. They must use NIL to the fullest.
People will lie to you in this business, because tickling your ears is good for profit and popularity. Things have certainly improved, but there are still those out there who will mislead fans with optimistic reports that have little factual grounding.
One such profiteer got mad at me on Twitter a few years back when I called him out publicly for lying to fans, telling them “Mullen is en route to a top-5 class”. He demanded that I call him, which I did. When I asked him why he was telling fans that UF was in great position to land Dontae Lucas (who had a family connection to the FSU staff) and other unrealistic targets, he said “where does it leave me business wise if I’m not optimistic”. As consumers, you have a right to look at people’s track record and to ask them to show their math.
We’re fortunate in many ways to have had Mullen when we did. It’s been hashed and beaten to death, but none of the other available coaches that year would have been any better.
Probably a lot worse. We kept ourselves relevant enough to be distanced from Tennessee, Miami, and FSU. The Gators are probably not far off from CFP contenders if the new coach has a passion for recruiting – and it starts with AR15.
To end my breakup letter, I’m glad it’s over, and I’m excited for the future. I never liked him and I am thrilled, but I will always wonder what he might have been able to do here if he wasn’t such a gaping, stubborn, arrogant SOB.