Dan Mullen

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As expected, Florida four-star recruit signs with JUCO program

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One of the key additions to the Florida recruiting class of 2019 previously announced he will instead be heading to a JUCO program for the 2019 season. Diwun Black, a linebacker, is reportedly heading to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College after signing his letter of intent.

As reported last month, Black announced he would have to attend community college in the summer before being able to enroll at Florida. Academic issues were thought to be the concern. Fortunately for Black, Florida head coach Dan Mullen voiced his support for the Class of 2019 linebacker.

Mullen has been working to recruit Black since the Gators head coach was at Mississippi State. Perhaps this is just another speedbump on Black’s path to join Mullen in Gainesville. Plenty of players have had to enroll at a community college to get grades in shape before getting started at their FBS school. We’ll wait to see if that is the case for Black.

Kirby Smart refuses to engage in war of words with Dan Mullen

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If there is one thing Florida head coach Dan Mullen has enjoyed doing since his arrival in Gainesville last year, it may be in stirring up the pot. Though he is certainly not going to be mistaken for Steve Spurrier when it comes to verbal jabs at conference and division rivals, Mullen is ready to take some subtle jabs at his foes from time to time. But Georgia head coach Kirby Smart isn’t about to get caught up in the fun in such a fashion.

In an interview with ESPN’s Paul Finebaum last week, Smart took the high road when asked about one of Mullen’s more recent troll jobs using the spring game attendance to remind everyone just how long it has been since Georgia won a national championship (it’s been 39 years, or 476 games for those keeping score at home, and at least one Florida fan was absolutely keeping score).

β€œIf I go out and do that as a coach, how do I look to my players? It is not something that I enjoy doing or want to do,” Smart replied (as transcribed by Dawg Nation). “I just want to go work really hard and grind and play the game and may the best team win.”

Smart continued on this thought with more emphasis on wanting to let the play on the field do the talking.

β€œI just don’t think you need that. That is not going to make Georgia great,” Smart said. “We are not going to move up in the rankings by what I say. We are going to do it by how we play. We want to talk with our helmets. That is what we always talk about – we want to play a physical brand of football and not do it with our mouthpiece.”

It’s worth a reminder that Georgia has won the SEC East each of the past two seasons and the Bulldogs let their helmets do the talking last year against the Gators with a loud statement. But after Georgia got humbled by Texas in the Sugar Bowl and Florida thumped Michigan in the Peach Bowl, Mullen probably as a good reason to be feeling pretty good about where his program is heading.

Perhaps this is a demonstration of the two different approaches Mullen and Smart take to running their respective programs. Mullen is attempting to breathe life into the Florida program and bring back the kind of swagger once enjoyed by Spurrier on the sidelines, and he’s willing to have some fun with his statements in doing so. Smart is the polar opposite, a brand off the Nick Saban coaching tree. Like Saban, Smart is focusing his energy into simply having a team that will go out and beat you up on the line of scrimmage and wear you down on the field. There is no right or wrong way to go about running a program, and what works for Mullen may not work for Smart and vice-versa. Just take the last few national championship head coaches, Saban and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney. Both coaches run their programs differently with the same goals in mind, and both have been successful on the biggest stage in doing so.

But if this is just going to add fuel to the fire of the Florida-Georgia rivalry, keep it up. Watching this rivalry will continue to be fun watching unfold in the years to come as long as Smart and Mullen are in place.

Who will be the next first-time college football national championship coach?

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On Monday night, Virginia and Texas Tech will battle for the men’s basketball national championship. A victory will clinch the first national championship as a head coach for either Virginia head coach Tony Bennett or Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard. But if you want college basketball coverage, our friends over at College Basketball Talk have you taken care of. Here, we’ll take the football angle and try to determine what college football coach will be the next to win his first national championship.

First, a refresher of the recent history of championship head coaches. Unless you’ve been sleeping under Howard’s Rock, you know the last four national titles have been split evenly by Nick Saban of Alabama and Dabo Swinney of Clemson. Swinney is the most recent coach to win his first national championship, having done so three seasons ago with a victory over Saban’s Crimson Tide in the 2016 season. Before Swinney, the most recent coach to win his first national title was Jimbo Fisher, then at Florida State, in the 2013 season in the final BCS Championship Game before the College Football Playoff took over. Since the 2010 season, the only other coach to win his first national title was Gene Chizik at Auburn, doing so in the 2010 season with Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton topping the Oregon Ducks in the BCS Championship Game.

There are certainly some obvious candidates to be the next coach to win his first national title. The conversation likely has to begin with Lincoln Riley of Oklahoma. In his first two seasons as head coach of the Sooners, Riley has taken two Big 12 championship teams into the College Football Playoff with a Heisman Trophy quarterback, although the Sooners have yet to win a playoff game. Each time, Oklahoma was eliminated by the national title runner-up. It doesn’t look as though Oklahoma is going to be slowing down any time soon, although the competition just in the conference may improve and make a playoff run a tad more difficult. Tom Herman at Texas could be the most likely coach out of the Big 12 not named Riley to win his first national title.

There are still some coaches to watch in the SEC as well. Kirby Smart has already taken Georgia to the national title game, where they lost in overtime against Alabama two seasons ago. He will certainly be in the mix to win his first national title. He’s even taken out Riley and Oklahoma! Dan Mullen at Florida could be a coach in the running as well, although there may still be some work to do in Gainesville before Florida can crack the four-team playoff field. Or will the football gods align the fates just right for Ed Orgeron to take LSU the distance?

The ACC is tough to find a coach you can feel has a great shot to be the next coach to win his first national title, especially with Clemson continuing to roll for the foreseeable future. The Pac-12 looks like a difficult spot too considering the quality of play in the conference recently. The thought of Mike Leach being the next to win his first national title is fun to dream about though.

But what about the Big Ten? Ryan Day is taking over as head coach of a playoff-worthy candidate at Ohio State this season. Jim Harbaugh should have another strong Big Ten contender to work with this upcoming season. James Franklin and Penn State have a couple hurdles they need to prove they can clear again before making their case, but all three coaches would certainly be on the radar.

Or, if you dare to do so, do you think there is a Group of Five coach out there ready to make the jump to a power conference program and guide them to a national title in the next few years while Saban and Swinney go another couple of championship rounds? Call your shot in the comment section or on Twitter.

Dan Mullen confirms spring game attendance numbers are ridiculous

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For the last few years, I have taken it upon myself to keep a record of attendance figures from spring games around the country. tracking these numbers was more a product of curiosity how fanbases between conferences compared against each other with the expectation that fans in the SEC would be more likely to be enthusiastic about a spring game compared to fans located in colder regions up north or in other regions more affected by cold weather during the transition from winter to spring. As I went about this project for the last few years, I came to one conclusion that was pretty well known; a lot of schools just make up their spring game numbers.

Not every school keeps a legitimate count of spring game attendance for a handful of reasons. Most schools simply open the doors to the stadium and let anyone who wants to come in to come through the ticket gates. Some schools will provide a rough estimate, and I can’t tell you how many times schools have had spring crowds rounded to the nearest thousand right on the dot over the years. Some schools opt not to even provide a rough estimate by simply saying they don’t track attendance. Some defend that decision by emphasizing they do not sell tickets for the game. Others will make sure you know they packed the house and sold tickets for the event.

Hey, whatever floats your boat. I’m not here to judge. But we all know the vast majority of spring game attendance figures are little more than rough estimates, sometimes created to make themselves look good compared to their peers. At Florida, at least Dan Mullen is man enough to admit the spring game figures are based loosely on fiction.

That mythical attendance figure is a nod to the final score of last season’s regular-season finale against Florida State, a 41-14 domination of the Seminoles in Tallahassee in Mullen’s first year in charge of the Gators. The win by the Gators brought an unceremonious end to Florida State’s bowl streak.

Mullen’s second spring as head coach of the Gators will wrap up this Saturday with the Florida spring game. We’ll be keeping a watchful eye on the attendance figure reported by the Gators this weekend.

Injuries to sideline three Gators during Florida spring practices

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The Florida Gators will be down at least three players this spring, according to a spring practice-eve report from Thomas Goldkamp of 247 Sports. According to Goldkamp, Florida will be without the services of defensive end Jeremiah Moon, defensive tackle Marlon Dunlap and offensive lineman Griffin McDowell due to injury issues this spring.

The extent of the injuries was not reported, but they must be serious enough to at least proceed with some extra caution this spring for Florida head coach Dan Mullen. Even though these players are looking to contend for some bigger roles in the fall, it is unwise to push them if there could be greater harm done in the spring by working them in practices and drills.

The absence of all three players will certainly allow for a few extra reps to be split up by other players at these positions, with starting jobs and other more significant roles up for grabs across the line of scrimmage this fall, especially on defense.

Florida begins spring practices on Tuesday.