Florida head coach upset
Florida head coach Dan Mullen reacts during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Mississippi in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. Mullen was given several more chances Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, to walk back bizarre comments about wanting to pack 90,000 screaming fans inside Florida Field during the coronavirus pandemic. He declined each of them, brushing aside criticism and insisting he's focused on defending national champion LSU. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)

Gator Fans Question Mullen’s Recruiting Amid Back-to-Back Losses

Recruiting is a year long sport.

With that being said, Gators Head Coach Dan Mullen caught fire on Monday during his media availability. When asked of his recruiting methods, the coach once again gave a very terse answer. This time, however, he deflected the quickly by using time as an excuse. Hear the sound bite below.

Overwhelmingly, this quote caught fire on social media. Chiefly, Mullen’s words have caught the ire of the fan base. Surely, this is due to the Florida coach consistently ranking lower than his rivals. Specifically, during his tenure at Florida, he has never scored a higher recruiting class than divisional rival Georgia.

https://twitter.com/BassinDawg/status/1455249539032563714

Such blunders are part of why Florida now has four losses on the season. After Saturday’s disaster v. Georgia, many fans are calling on Mullen to match his rivals recruiting efforts. So, here’s a deeper dive into Mullen’s recruiting four years into his tenure.

Not Even A Rivalry

While assessing Florida’s recruiting successes v. Georgia, one thing bode true: it’s not even close.

Overall, during his tenure at Florida (2018-now), Mullen has averaged a recruiting class ranking of No. 11 (excluding 2022), according to 247 Sports.com. Conversely, Bulldogs Coach Kirby Smart has averaged a ranking of No. 2, reeling in No. 1 classes in 2018 and 2020.

Furthermore, the Gators coach has seen two five-star commitments during his tenure. Yet, Smart had four in his class of 2021 alone. Such advantages are why Florida suffered a 34-7 defeat to their bitter rival Saturday. Also, it explains the former Georgia athlete metaphorically dunking on Mullen in his post game presser.

To make matters worse, Florida is being out-recruited by other rivals as well. Notably, cross-division rival LSU has averaged a recruiting class ranking of No. 7 during Mullen’s tenure. Further, Texas A&M has averaged a ranking of No. 9 since hiring Jimbo Fisher in 2018. Additionally, Alabama has averaged a class ranking of No. 2, making three of the Gator’s four losses in 2021 be to better recruited rosters.

“In-State” Talent

Florida is a hot bed of recruiting talent. With four players ranked in the class of 2021 top 10, coaches have consistently looked south to the sunshine state to bolster rosters. So, the state’s flagship university should be able to retain such talent, right?

In short: no. The Gators have consistently failed to retain in-state talent. In the class of 2021, Florida nabbed one top 10 in-state recruit, getting Jason Marshall Jr. out of Miami. Notably, three members of the top 10 committed to Alabama. Moreover, this represents this shift in college football recruiting. Coaches of super programs such as Nick Saban at Alabama and Dabo Swinney at Clemson have dipped into Florida to feed their programs, with the Gators being left scraps.

In 2020, the Gators broke many offensive records behind the superb trio of Kyle Trask, Kadarious Toney and Kyle Pitts. Yet, not a single one of those program legends is from the state of Florida. While the player’s hometowns don’t affect their play, it would have been beneficial for this trio to be surrounded by some of the superfluous talent in-state.

Even further, 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, Lamar Jackson, is from the state of Florida.

What’s Next?

Mullen said it best: the Gator’s will worry about recruiting in recruiting season.

Yet, if he continues such methods, the Florida coach will continue to see such porous results. Without similar talent, the Gators will not be able to compete with in-conference rivals such as Georgia and Alabama.

It might be time for Dan Mullen to hit the recruiting trail.

To see Florida’s Class of 2022 ranking, click here. 

About Sam Petosa

Sam Petosa is a Journalism major pursuing a Specialization in Sports and Media at UF. The South Florida native produces daily shows for WRUF, including "Sport Scene with Steve Russell, and "The Tailgate." In addition, Sam provides weekly sports updates for WUFT News and radio Sportscenter's for WRUF radio. Sam has been a writer at ESPN Gainesville since January 2020.

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