We’ve spent a good amount of time discussing Jeremy Pruitt’s heavy load at Tennessee, but Florida’s new coach has his own set of issues to overcome. He’s got the benefit of being a link to better times, and that’s certainly a help during the inevitable honeymoon a new coach enjoys. So this is an easy carry, as far as it goes.
Mullen is a bridge to the Gators’ last glory era as the offensive coordinator on Urban Meyer’s 2006 and 2008 national championship teams. That’s how he remembers Florida football, and that’s what he expects it to be again.
“The surprise, I think, is we’ve fallen behind a little bit in certain areas,” he said Tuesday night in Fort Lauderdale. “Whether it be facilities, whether it be crowd support, whether it be just the passion, energy and excitement I’m used to seeing from when I was here before. You’ve got to understand, for me, I’m seeing [it] back that way. I’m seeing we’re having an unbelievable crowd here tonight, we had an unbelievable crowd last night, for the spring game, I’m seeing that energy and that excitement that everyone tells me has been missing.
“So that is probably the thing that surprises me, that somehow we let — and I say we, we’re all in this together — that somehow we let our standard slip a little bit in everybody and what it is to be a Gator and our standards and expectations. But I’m really excited to see the energy and the passion and the enthusiasm everyone has to get that Gator Standard back and to get it back in a hurry.”
That standard he’s referring to there was multiple SEC and national championships in a short time frame under Corch. Yes, the coaching staff did a fine job, but let’s not forget how much of that was fueled by a combination of factors such as extraordinarily gifted talents in Tebow and Harvin, an SEC East that had fallen off and a conference that was just seeing the nascent rise of an Alabama dynasty under Nick Saban.
Needless to say, Mullen faces a very different world now. It’s all well and good to pump up the fan base with talk of a return to the good old days, but what happens if you can’t recreate them?