The coaching carousel is spinning at a fast pace, and it has taken Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen back in Gainseville, Florida, as the new head coach of the Florida Gators, the school announced Sunday. Two sources confirmed the news to CBS Sports earlier Sunday.
Mullen, the Gators' former two-time national championship-winning offensive coordinator, finishes 69-46 as coach of the Bulldogs, having led them to bowl games in each of the past seven seasons. They will earn another postseason trip following an 8-4 regular season in 2017. Mullen also led MSU to the No. 1 spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff Rankings in October 2014 and an Orange Bowl appearance later that season.
"Megan and I are very excited to get back to Gainesville and the University of Florida," Mullen said in a statement released by the school. "I have such great memories of the championships we won during our time here and have a love for Florida. We are happy to be coming back to such a supportive administration, staff, student body and fan base, which is the premier football program in the country. We will give relentless effort in everything that we do on and off the field. Our commitment will match the passion that the Gator Nation has for this program."
Mullen's innovative offensive style combined with his familiarity with the Florida football program makes him a perfect fit for a team in desperate need of an offensive boost. Mullen and Gators athletic director Scott Stricklin, who was hired to replace Jeremy Foley, have a strong working relationship as Stricklin was Mississippi State's AD from 2010-16.
"I strongly believe Dan is the most prepared candidate to have immediate and long-term success at the University of Florida," Stricklin said. "Coach Mullen is one of the best offensive minds in all of college football, and has an unbelievable track record in tutoring successful quarterbacks [such as Alex Smith, Chris Leak, Tim Tebow, Dak Prescott and Nick Fitzgerald].
"Coach Mullen will do a tremendous job in developing accountability and toughness through a well-coordinated strength and conditioning program. Dan will work closely with the coaching staff, academic advising staff and administrative team to give every student athlete he coaches the opportunity to grow and excel at a high level athletically, academically and socially."
Mullen's 69 wins at Mississippi State rank him second all-time in program history, while his .605 career winning percentage is the program's best since the 1950s. When the Bulldogs receive a bowl invitation next week, it will be their eighth under Mullen. Before his arrival, the program had been to only 13 bowls in its entire existence.
Befiore his time in Starkville, Mississippi, Mullen was the offensive coordinator at Florida under Urban Meyer where he won BCS titles in 2006 and 2008.
The Gators fired former coach Jim McElwain last month amid reports of a personality conflict with administrators. Randy Shannon served as the interim coach during the final month of the season, going 1-3 during that span.
Mississippi State president Mark Keenum confirmed Mullen's exit Sunday night.
"We've built a football program at Mississippi State that has enjoyed unprecedented success over the last nine seasons. Dan Mullen has been the catalyst of that success and we wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors," he said in a prepared statement. "It's a tribute to Dan and to MSU that he has drawn the interest of several premier football programs around the country. Dan's tenure at MSU coincides with my own and we've had a chance to do some special things together for our loyal fans and friends.
"In anticipation of this development, MSU has already begun the process of an orderly and expeditious transition to new and exciting leadership for our football program. I have shared my vision with Athletics Director John Cohen and I am confident that John will move quickly and decisively to fill our coaching vacancy with the best possible person to build on the success of our program."
Dan Mullen is leaving Starkville, so who will be the next coach of the Bulldogs? And what are recruits saying? Gene's Page, a leading 247Sports site, has the latest breaking news as Mississippi State hunts for a new coach. Don't be left in the dark. Be the first to know how the football program will change forever. Visit now!