Make no mistake, the Gators football program needed a fresh face and someone to re-connect with the fan base. And whether they would own up to it, Will Muschamp’s lack of success in his final two seasons and successor Jim McElwain’s porcupine antics at times, and almost willful disregard for connecting with the students had driven away a lot of fans.
And, also make no mistake, new coach Dan Mullen has set out to rectify the first issue (winning), but so far this spring, he has an equal priority of bringing back student involvement.
Do just take our writing for it. Take a look at how Mullen spent his Monday afternoon and evening in the middle of spring practice:
.@CoachDanMullen is catching up with 25 IFC chapters tonight!
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) April 2, 2018
25 fraternities visited. Not a cursory thing.
Yes, the first year head coach was around late last decade as part of Urban Meyer’s staff, and he knows how the rockin’ environment at “the Swamp” was fueled in large part by students going bonkers.
That staff took over after the Ron Zook era caused Florida football to languish and fans to become apathetic. However, like a swtich being thrown, Florida’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium became a deafening feared place to play, again.
Look. We understand that winning is the biggest ingredient to this, but clearly, Muschamp nor McElwain never made any attempt to do anything like play “Dodgeball” at the UF Rec center, as their successor did last Thursday:
Anyone remember the 5 D’s of dodgeball?? pic.twitter.com/PI8oVl3vps
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) March 29, 2018
Ultimately, Mullen will be judged on wins. Big wins.
Like getting back to beating Georgia, Florida State and eventually, Alabama, if they want to be great, again.
However, either Mullen understood from his hiring or some on the inside in Gainesville made it clear that the students had been forgotten, if not intentionally ignored, particularly by McElwain.
And, all it needed was for him to go show some interest and compel them that their support was part of the re-building.
On source close to the Florida atheletic programs joked with us about that Dodgeball video above, that some boosters particularly, would have paid heavily for a chance to throw things at McElwain.
Credit Mullen for “getting it,” and for using an important weapon his disposal: his time and personality to go engage his young fan base.
They may or may not start wining right away this fall, but you can bet what Mullen is doing in March and April will have the students and the younger fans back involved and ready to “chomp,” again.
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