Tuesday in Atlanta, it was time for Gators boss Dan Mullen to take his turn at the podium (and several other outlets) and be subjected to the SEC’s annual media circus/media days.
The first year Florida coach is no stranger to the media days, as he had done it for the last nine seasons as Mississippi State’s head man.
However, the anticipation and expectation to restore Florida to an SEC power is building and Mullen embraced it, once again:
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) July 17, 2018
In particular, when he was asked about the winning culture at Florida, where he was part of on Urban Meyer’s two national championship staffs last decade, Mullen beamed again Tuesday about the job:
“Having been at the University of Florida before…and won multiple championships there, I know what a special place it can be. I think that was big help for me walking into a situation where I had familiarity with a lot of things,” Mullen told the media mass in his main press conference. “I think all the things: the tradition, the University, that Gator standard, all made it a very easy decision for me.”
Mullen was asked about incumbent Feleipe Franks and the quarterback competition, the rivalry with Georgia and so on, in that session, but we were particularly interested when the question turned to transfer receiver Van Jefferson from Ole Miss and his possible eligibility and impact.
First, Mullen answered about the status of the waiver to get Jefferson eligible immediately this season,
“I don’t want to say ‘frustrating,’ cause having done this (wait on NCAA decisions on player eligibility) within the NCAA and as this goes, you just understand that it is a process. As the process plays out, you get a ‘feel.’… Hopefully, we’ll be able to announce something in the near future one way or the other about what’s going on with the transfers.”
We wrote previously that the Jefferson has a chance to be immediately eligible this season, where he would not have in years past, because the SEC changed their rule in May on players leaving one program in the conference for another due to NCAA sanctions, etc., possibly being able to be cleared to play.
Jefferson wasn’t spectacular last year in Oxford, with just 42 catches for 456 yards and one score. However, he’s expected to immediately help infuse the Gators receiving corp with some life, if he can get on the field.
As for what Jefferson would bring, Mullen got somewhat specific Tuesday:
“I think he would have the opportunity to fill a need as a playmaker with experience in this league. And, I think that’s a huge benefit….when you get in big games, that’s been in and played in big games, that’s made big catches in big games, he has experience. And that’s a huge plus.”
So, it was a chance for Mullen to “sell” the Florida program, and oh, flash his new “Jordan Brand” Nike Shoe game, too:
Dan Mullen’s shoes pic.twitter.com/0UeG93kS4T
— Paul Myerberg (@PaulMyerberg) July 17, 2018
Mullen, was selling the Gators, indeed.
Gators announced home and home series with Cal Friday
The Florida Gators continued their philosophy of striking “home-and-home” deals with Power 5 opposition, when they announced on Friday that they will be doing so with the Cal-Berkley Bears out of the Pac-12 coming later in this decade.
The Gators made the announcement through their website and social media mid-day Friday that they will play Cal at home first and then travel to Berkeley the following year:
Coast to coast❗
🐻 at 🐊 2026
🐊 at 🐻 2027#GoGators
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) February 7, 2020
A.D. Scott Stricklin has broken up the long tradition that Florida would only play two home out of conference games in September and usually, against much lesser competition before entering SEC play. Stricklin has been very outspoken that in the age of the College Football Playoff, strength of schedule is emphasized and the selection committee holds schools responsible for not playing top-notch out of conference opponents, at least some of the time.
With that in mind, the Gators opened the 2019 season in Orlando against the Miami Hurricanes and won a sloppy game. And, they already have other Power 5 schools laid out to play home and away.
As we previously wrote, Florida will be playing the Texas Longhorns first in Gainesville in 2030 and then. return the game the following year in Austin.
Florida had previously announced last year that they will also play the Colorado Buffaloes out of the Pac-12, again with the first game in Gainesville in 2028 and then, returning it to Boulder the following season.
It’s interesting with Friday’s announcement that Stricklin and the football program are working backwards with the schedule. And, they will now play Cal before Colorado in September of 2026, and then will be opening on the Berkeley campus the following season.
Florida and Cal have only met two times, having played first in Gainesville in 1974 as the Gators wo 21 – 17 and then, they also met in Tampa to open the 1980 season with a Florida 41-13 blowout victory.
Second National Signing Day recap for top state schools
National Signing Day 2020 has come and gone, and several in state schools were able to improve their classes heading into spring ball. The University of Florida watched rival Georgia secure the number one overall class, but the Gators were still able to land the best class in the state with the number eight class overall.
The Gators officially signed former five-star receiver Justin Shorter from Penn State, and Florida stayed in the family today as well, Xzavier Henderson officially joined the Gators. He’s the ounger brother of former DB C.J. Henderson.
Dan Mullen also able to dip into the state of Texas inking four-star DE Princely Umanmielen. It wasn’t all great news for the Gators, as they missed out on a few key guys, including losing out on arguably top state safety Avantae Williams to in state rival Miami. Overall it was a good cycle for the Gators both recruiting and in the transfer portal.
The Miami Hurricanes continued an impressive offseason on National Signing Day. The Canes made arguably the biggest move in the state by landing Williams and keeping him Florida. Williams became the highest rated Hurricane in the class and propelled the U to the number 13 spot.
Miami has the second-best class in the ACC behind Clemson. With an impressive offseason in the books, once again excitement will be in the air in Coral Gables. The question is: will they live up to it in year two for Manny Diaz?
Florida State and new coach Mike Norvell have been working hard to get this class rolling last minute. After a good early National Signing Day Norvell looked to keep the momentum going. The Noles took a big hit Wednesday though, with the loss of Venice four star WR, Malachi Wideman, who flipped to Tennessee.
The Noles came back from that by landing a handful of other recruits. They got the number six Juco running back La’Damian Webb, ass well as, Robert Scott, an offensive lineman and Corey Wren, an athlete/running back.
Replacing Cam Akers will be tough for Norvell and building the offensive line is a top priority. The former Memphis coach came in late like he did, yet he finishes with a decent class sitting at 22 on 24/7.
Now the work begins turning around the former powerhouse.