Dan Mullen among reasons 2018 coaching hire cycle was a mess

Six years have passed since the 2018 college football head coach hiring cycle and looking back on a season that saw 21 positions replaced — including 13 at the power-conference level and five at programs that had won national championships or played for one within the previous 20 years.

Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde took a look back on what has turned into a disastrous cycle in retrospect, including Florida’s hiring of now-departed Dan Mullen. He opens up with his immediate reaction to the hire.

“Mullen was not first on Florida’s list, but was still lauded as a quality hire after excelling in a much more difficult SEC locale, Mississippi State,” Forde begins. “Mullen went 69–46 in Starkville, Mississippi, including a 10–3 season in 2014. That team earned a historical footnote by being the first No. 1 in the College Football Playoff selection Top 25, starting the season 9–0. He also had history at Florida, having been Urban Meyer’s offensive coordinator.”

Forde continues with how things worked out for the Gators and Mullen.

“Mullen’s tenure might have been as much a victim of the pandemic as anyone’s,” he notes. “He was 21–5 in his first two seasons, then started 8–1 in ’20 before a playoff-busting upset loss to the LSU Tigers triggered a three-game losing streak.

“Florida was 5–6 in ’21 when the plug was pulled, the end coming on losses to the South Carolina Gamecocks and Missouri Tigers sandwiched around a 70–52 win over the FCS Samford Bulldogs that Mullen weirdly tried to spin as a triumph.”

As for the high point of Mullen’s tenure, Forde’s example was certainly a big moment: “Thumping the Georgia Bulldogs in mid-2020 to take control of the SEC East. Then a thrown cleat against the Tigers somehow altered the course.”

Of course, we know how things ultimately panned out: “Florida hired Billy Napier and the record has gotten worse.”

If it is any consolation, plenty of Florida rivals and SEC peers also suffered similar fates, though many of them have rebounded from 2018 much better. Nonetheless, it is still an ugly blemish on the history of the Orange and Blue.

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Story originally appeared on Gators Wire