GAINESVILLE, Fla. –
University of Florida Athletic Director Scott Stricklin
announced that Dan Mullen
will be the 27th head coach in Florida football history.
Mullen, who spent the past nine seasons as Mississippi State's head coach (2009-17), returns to Gainesville where he served four seasons (2005-08) as offensive coordinator and was a major factor in the program winning two Southeastern Conference and BCS National Titles (2006, 2008) during his tenure.
"Megan and I are very excited to get back to Gainesville and the University of Florida," Head Coach Dan Mullen
said. "I have such great memories of the championships we won during our time here and have a love for Florida. We are happy to be coming back to such a supportive administration, staff, student body and fan base, which is the premier football program in the country.
"We will give relentless effort in everything that we do on and off the field. Our commitment will match the passion that the Gator Nation has for this program."
"I strongly believe Dan is the most prepared candidate to have immediate and long-term success at the University of Florida," Stricklin said. "Coach Mullen is one of the best offensive minds in all of college football, and has an unbelievable track record in tutoring successful quarterbacks (such as Alex Smith, Chris Leak, Tim Tebow, Dak Prescott and Nick Fitzgerald).
"Coach Mullen will do a tremendous job in developing accountability and toughness through a well-coordinated strength and conditioning program. Dan will work closely with the coaching staff, academic advising staff and administrative team to give every student athlete he coaches the opportunity to grow and excel at a high level athletically, academically and socially."
"I'm pleased with the approach and process that Scott Stricklin
and his staff had in place for this search that landed us the best candidate to move our football program forward nationally," UF President Dr. W. Kent Fuchs said. "Coach Mullen has a very successful track record at Florida and the SEC, which includes his ability to develop student-athletes on and off the field at the highest level."
Mullen, 45, was honored in 2014 as the national college football coach of the year by the Maxwell Football Club. He also won honors as the SEC Coach of the Year that season. His tenure with the Bulldogs saw the program ascend to a No. 1 ranking during regular season polls and he oversaw participation in a school-record eight consecutive bowl games.
As the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at UF prior to joining MSU in 2009, Mullen worked a Heisman Trophy, Davey O'Brien and Maxwell Award-winning quarterback, along with a Rimington Trophy finalist and a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist.
Player development has been a key to Mullen's coaching career successes. Twenty-two Bulldogs have been chosen in the NFL Draft under Mullen since 2010. Dak Prescott became the highest drafted MSU quarterback in modern NFL Draft history, going in the 2016 fourth round to the Dallas Cowboys.
Prescott joined the following QBs tutored by Mullen who were selected in the NFL Draft: Josh Harris (Bowling Green), Omar Jacobs (Bowling Green), Alex Smith (Utah) and Tim Tebow (Florida).
In the last seven NFL Drafts, the Bulldogs have produced seven first- or second-round picks. In the eight drafts prior to Mullen's arrival, MSU did not have any.
MSU shattered over 100 individual and team single-game, single-season and career statistical records in Mullen's nine seasons. Meanwhile, the top seven total offensive seasons' statistical performances in school history have all occurred in the Mullen era.
Mississippi State (2009-17)
On Dec. 10, 2008, Mullen became the 32nd head coach in MSU history as he took over a program that posted a 32-65 record in the eight years prior to his arrival. Mullen (69-46, .600) finished the 2017 season second in Bulldog history in all-time wins.
In addition, his .600 winning percentage ranked second in MSU annals among those who have coached six or more years.
MSU ranks second in victories since 2014 (33) in the SEC West, one of college football's toughest divisions, which has produced a national title game finalist in 10 of the last 11 years.
Mullen produced three seasons of at least nine victories in the last nine years, including the school's first back-to-back nine-win seasons in 2014 and 2015. The program has had four nine-win seasons in its 109 years.
The Bulldogs have the opportunity to reach the nine-win plateau again with their upcoming bowl game.
Bowl games became the norm at State under Mullen's guidance. Prior to his arrival, the school record for consecutive bowl game appearances was three from 1998-2000. MSU is currently on a stretch of a school-record eight straight bowl appearances with its most recent triumph coming against Miami (Ohio) in the 2016 St. Petersburg Bowl. No other coach has been to more bowl games (seven) or won more bowl games (five) at MSU than Mullen. The Bulldogs are one of five SEC teams to earn a bowl berth every season this decade, and MSU is second in the league in bowl game wins (five) since 2010.
Only six teams have held the No. 1 ranking since the start of the 2014 season – Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Ohio State and Mississippi State.
No coach in MSU history had ever been a finalist for a national coach of the year honor until Mullen won the Maxwell Football Club's National Coach of the Year award in 2014. He also was named the Associated Press SEC Coach of the Year award that same fall.
Mississippi State Year-By-Year Breakdown
- Mississippi State finished 4-4 in league play after being predicted to finish sixth in the SEC West.
- MSU was the only team with two or more players in the top six in the SEC in rushing (QB Nick Fitzgerald and Williams 6th)
- Mullen was a semifinalist for the Maxwell Football George Munger Coach of the Year.
- After Prescott was drafted in the NFL by Dallas, quarterback Nick Fitzgerald set nine school records in his first year as a starter. A former three-star recruit offered by only one "Power 5" school (MSU), Fitzgerald shattered single-season league records for 100-yard rushing games by a quarterback (8) and average yards per rush by a quarterback (7.1). His top target, Fred Ross, became the first wide receiver in school history to earn first-team All-SEC honors in back-to-back seasons. Ross joined the NFL's Carolina Panthers in the spring of 2017.
- Mississippi State celebrated a nine-win season highlighted by four road victories, a first since 1994.
- Mullen's offense was led by senior Dak Prescott and Ross. For the first time since 1978, MSU produced a first-team All-SEC quarterback and wide receiver in the same season. Ross became the first Bulldog to lead the SEC in receptions per game since 1978, setting a single-season record for catches with 88.
- Prescott came to the program as a three-star recruit but ended his college career with 38 school records. He became one of only four players in FBS history to throw for over 9,000 yards and rush for over 2,500 yards in a career. Only two players in SEC history have achieved the feat -- the other is Tim Tebow, who also worked with Mullen.
- This season was arguably the best in program history as Mullen's group won 10 regular season games for the first time and 10 overall for just the third time. The Bulldogs claimed six SEC wins -- the most by MSU since 1999 -- while finishing second in the SEC West.
- Mullen developed a team that went from unranked to No. 1 quicker than any in college football history (five weeks; Ohio State made the move in six weeks in 1964). The Bulldogs entered Sept. 20 at No. 8 LSU just outside the polls. Led by Prescott, MSU recorded its first victory in Tiger Stadium since 1991.
- The Bulldogs were the nation's No. 1 team for the first time in 80 years of Associated Press polls following wins over No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 2 Auburn during a raucous stretch in Davis Wade Stadium. MSU became the first team since Auburn in 1983 to defeat three consecutive top-10 ranked teams. The Bulldogs also became the first squad to hold the No. 1 ranking in the inaugural College Football Playoff poll.
- The year was capped with a berth in the Orange Bowl for the first time since 1941. Mullen's squad rewrote the MSU record books in 2014, shattering 22 single-season records, including 10 by National Player of the Year finalist Prescott. The Bulldogs led the SEC in total offense for the first time since 1982, putting up a school-record 513.8 yards per game. State earned its highest Associated Press poll finish since 1940 (No. 11), and tied its highest finish ever in the USA Today Amway Coaches poll (No. 12). Prescott finished higher in the Heisman Trophy vote than any MSU player by taking eighth in December 2014.
- Mullen ignited the Bulldogs to a nine-win season in just his second year, 2010, and recorded 38 wins in his first five seasons. Mullen's work during this period led to the successes of 2014.
- His tenure in Starkville began with a 5-7 season, the only one in which Mullen's Bulldogs did not reach only campaign that Mullen did not reach a bowl game.
As the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of Florida for four seasons prior to MSU, Mullen molded a Heisman Trophy, Davey O'Brien and Maxwell Award-winning quarterback, along with a Rimington Trophy finalist and a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist.
In 2008, Mullen's offensive attack ranked third nationally in scoring – averaging better than 45 points per game as the Gators scored at least 30 points in 12-of-13 games. The 587 points scored eclipsed the previous Florida mark, set in 1996.
Florida rushed for a school-record 41 touchdowns that season and UF's 80 rushing touchdowns over two seasons ranked second nationally. Overall, Florida's rushing yardage of 2,987 ranked ninth nationally in 2008 and was the third-highest total in school history.
Seven offensive players were recognized as All-SEC selections following the season in which Mullen helped UF claim its second SEC Championship and a chance to play for its second national championship in three seasons.
The Gator offense ranked first in the SEC in scoring offense and total offense for a second-straight season in 2008, averaging 45.2 points and 442.4 yards per game. In 2007, UF averaged 42.5 points and 457.2 yards.
In 2007, Mullen directed the Gator offense to the third-highest point total ever by a UF unit and the top single-season marks for rushing touchdowns and third-down conversion percentage. Florida's offense scored 75 touchdowns, second most in the SEC.
Mullen orchestrated a UF attack that was the only one in the nation to have rushed for a touchdown and passed for a touchdown in every game during the season. He also helped UF score on 83-of-152 drives in 2007 for a league-best 54.6 percent, marking the best number since that statistic was tracked by the SEC in 2000. Florida additionally averaged 7.0 yards per play that year, the fourth-best total in the nation. Also, the Gators averaged 5.3 yards per rush, the second-best performance in school history.
In 2007, Mullen helped coach sophomore quarterback Tim Tebow into a Heisman Trophy, Maxwell and Davey O'Brien award winner, the 78th Sullivan Award winner and AP First-Team All-American among other honors.
He also tutored six offensive players to the All-SEC team: Tebow, NFL Pro Bowler Percy Harvin, Cornelius Ingram, Brandon James, Jim Tartt and Drew Miller.
Mullen played an integral role in Florida's 2006 national championship, overseeing an offense that averaged 29.7 points and 396.1 yards per game. In the BCS National Championship Game, he engineered an attack that produced 41 points against a top-ranked Ohio State squad that was limiting opponents to less than 11 points per game. Under Mullen's tutelage, quarterback Chris Leak opened the contest by going 9-for-9 for 99 yards and a touchdown en route to earning Offensive MVP honors.
The 2006 Gator offense posted 76 plays of 20 yards or more, 19 of which went for touchdowns. Florida passed for 29 touchdowns in 2006, while Leak ranked among the national leaders with 23 scoring throws. Tebow matched UF's then single-season record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with eight scores, and his 5.3 yards per carry average placed second nationally among quarterbacks. Six different players averaged at least 5.0 yards per carry.
In 2005, Chad Jackson played his way to Biletnikoff Award semifinalist status after matching the UF single-season record with 88 receptions, a figure that led the SEC and finished sixth nationally. Center Mike Degory was also named a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, given annually to the nation's top center, during that campaign. Both earned first-team All-SEC honors.
Mullen came to Florida from Utah with head coach Urban Meyer, with whom he had spent 10 seasons. While the quarterbacks coach at Utah, Mullen helped developed current NFL standout Alex Smith – the first overall selection in the 2005 NFL Draft. Smith's skills expanded from his work as a pocket passer into executing a spread offense, making him one of the most versatile threats in college football. Smith took over the starting job three games into Mullen's tenure, passing for 2,247 yards and running for 452 to finish second in the Mountain West in total offense in 2003.
The 2004 campaign saw Smith earn National Player of the Year honors from The Sporting News and Sports Illustrated, while also becoming Utah's first-ever Heisman Trophy finalist. Smith also garnered final consideration for the Davey O'Brien and Walter Camp National Player of the Year Awards. Smith passed for 2,952 yards and 32 touchdowns and ran for 631 yards and 10 scores on the year, ranking second in the nation with a 176.5 efficiency rating and leading the Utes to a perfect 12-0 season and a Fiesta Bowl championship. As a team, Utah finished the 2004 season third in the nation in scoring offense (45.3) and total offense (499.8).
Bowling Green (2001-02)
Prior to his time at Utah, Mullen served as quarterbacks' coach at Bowling Green for two seasons, helping the Falcons record 6,627 yards of total offense with 81 touchdowns during that span. In 2002, quarterback Josh Harris threw for 2,425 yards, ran for 737 yards and completed the campaign as the nation's third-leading scorer.
Mullen spent two years before his time at Bowling Green as a graduate assistant at Notre Dame, and before that assisted with Syracuse's 1998 Big East championship and Orange Bowl run.
Mullen was born April 27, 1972, in Manchester, N.H. He earned a bachelor's degree in Exercise and Sport Science from Ursinus College in 1994 and a master's in Education from Wagner College in 1996. A two-year starter at tight end for Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pa., Mullen earned first-team All-Centennial Conference honors as a senior.
He is married to the former Megan West, and the couple has two children, son Canon (8) and daughter Breelyn (5).
Dan Mullen Coaching History
||Offensive Coordinator / Quarterbacks
||Graduate Assistant (Offense)
||Graduate Assistant (Offense)
Head Coaching Records
0-0 at UF
69-46 at MSU
0-0 at UF
33-39 at MSU
||St. Petersburg Bowl
Quotes of Note:
Head Coach Dan Mullen:
"Megan and I are very excited to get back to Gainesville and the University of Florida. I have such great memories of the championships we won during our time here and have a love for Florida. We are happy to be coming back to such a supportive administration, staff, student body and fan base, which is the premier football program in the country. We will give relentless effort in everything that we do on and off the field. Our commitment will match the passion that the Gator Nation has for this program."
Athletics Director Scott Stricklin:
"I strongly believe Dan is the most prepared candidate to have immediate and long-term success at the University of Florida. Coach Mullen is one of the best offensive minds in all of college football, and has an unbelievable track record in tutoring successful quarterbacks (such as Alex Smith, Chris Leak, Tim Tebow, Dak Prescott and Nick Fitzgerald). Coach Mullen will do a tremendous job in developing accountability and toughness through a well-coordinated strength and conditioning program. Dan will work closely with the coaching staff, academic advising staff and administrative team to give every student athlete he coaches the opportunity to grow and excel at a high level athletically, academically and socially."
University of Florida President Dr. W. Kent Fuchs:
"I'm pleased with the approach and process that Scott Stricklin
and his staff had in place for this search that landed us the best candidate to move our football program forward nationally. Coach Mullen has a very successful track record at Florida and the SEC, which includes his ability to develop student-athletes on and off the field at the highest level."
1966 Heisman Trophy Winner & UAA Ambassador Steve Spurrier:
"The Gators are thrilled that Dan Mullen
has accepted our offer to be the head coach at our University. With his background here with Urban Meyer and his success at Mississippi State, he is well prepared to turn the Gators back into a top-10 football program in the country. We all look forward to his arrival here in Gainesville and to welcome him back to Gator Nation."
2007 Heisman Trophy Winner & Gator Great Tim Tebow:
"I love that Coach Mullen is someone who understands the culture of the University of Florida and has won two national championships here. Dan understands how to coach and mentor quarterbacks and build championship level expectations and deliver them both on and off the field. He will not only be a great coach for the players from an X's and O's standpoint, but as a mentor for all the young men in the program."
1996 Heisman Trophy Winner & Gator Great Danny Wuerffel:
"All of us Gators love to not only win games, but have fun along the way. I'm confident Dan Mullen
will quickly get us back on track on both fronts."
Former Florida Quarterback & ESPN College Football Analyst Jesse Palmer:
"Having gotten to know Dan personally, and after covering him professionally I am confident that he is the right man for this job. His track record speaks for itself, as he's been instrumental to UF's past national championship pedigree and unprecedented success at Mississippi State. Dan is a natural leader who inspires his players to give their best both on and off the field. This is a great day for Gator Nation."
Former Florida Wide Receiver David Nelson:
"I am beyond excited that Coach Mullen is returning to Gator Nation. The impact he had on our national championship seasons stretched far beyond the football field. He genuinely cares about his players - as athletes, students, and people. His offensive mind is unrivaled and his passion for the game is contagious to all those around him. Get ready... Championship Football is returning to the Swamp."
Former Florida Defensive Lineman & ESPN College Football Analyst Kevin Carter:
is an excellent hire for the Gators. He will recruit both players and coaches well. His development of quarterbacks is as good as anyone in college football over the last 15 years. This is a solid move for the future of Florida Football."
Former Florida Wide Receiver & SEC Network College Football Analyst Chris Doering:
is one of my top two or three current coaches in the Southeastern Conference. To be able to get a guy who has the combination of experience at the University of Florida along with a proven track record of winning within the conference, this is a great opportunity. I look forward to the Dan Mullen
era beginning at Florida."
ESPN College Football Analyst Kirk Herbstreit:
's consistency and success in Starkville is a testament to his ability to evaluate talent, develop them, and put them in positions to win on Saturdays. This, along with his background in Gainesville with Championship teams, makes him a perfect fit for the Gators."