football Edit

Dan Mullen recruiting well at UF, Urban Meyer says, but 'gotta beat UGA'

Former Florida head coach Urban Meyer appeared on the Stadium & Gale podcast Tuesday for a lengthy interview about his career and other topics, including current Gators coach Dan Mullen.

Now in his third year at UF, Mullen was Meyer’s offensive coordinator for four years (2005-08) before getting hired by Mississippi State. His Bulldogs upset the Gators in 2010, Meyer’s final season.

Urban Meyer (left) with Dan Mullen, then the coach at MSU, following their matchup in 2009.
Urban Meyer (left) with Dan Mullen, then the coach at MSU, following their matchup in 2009. (Kristen Hines Baker/MSU Athletics)

Florida’s program hasn’t been the same since then, going through three coaching changes and a pair of four-win teams. Mullen turned the Gators around in 2018 and 2019, winning back-to-back New Year’s Six Bowls and becoming the first coach in school history to win 10 games in his first two years.

Meyer was asked to assess the job Mullen is doing in Gainesville.

“I love Dan,” Meyer said on Stadium & Gale. “I think Dan’s recruiting well. He’s an excellent coach. Dan is really, really good. He understands the game of football as good as anybody I’ve been around. Him and (Ohio State coach) Ryan Day are the two best. They’re so good about managing a game.”

But Meyer also acknowledged that his former assistant needs to get a win in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

“He’s gotta beat Georgia,” Meyer said. “I’ve been in that game. Steve Spurrier, who’s a dear friend of mine, he made that game miserable for Gators because he never lost to them. And I’d sit in that Sawgrass Hotel in my hotel room and I’d be damn near just sick getting ready for that game. … You had to win that game.”

Meyer, like Spurrier, only lost once to the Bulldogs, getting beat in 2007 when they rushed the field after scoring on their opening drive. That game was used as offseason motivation for the Gators ahead of their 2008 national title run.

Mullen is 0-2 in the rivalry, but pointed out that UF is only “seven points behind Georgia” following last year’s 24-17 loss. As Meyer said, Mullen has been recruiting well and developing the talent on UF’s roster.

Florida’s 2021 class is currently No. 2 nationally and first in the SEC, headlined by five-star defensive end Tyreak Sapp. Mullen believes the Gators’ draft success will only help his staff on the trail.

“It doesn’t hurt,” he said Monday. “I think players are looking here, in just two years we have the program built to this level where we finished in top-10 in football the last two years. We’re the only top-10 football team that’s a top-10 academic school as well, and we’re producing an extremely high number of NFL talent.

“So, I mean, to me it makes a lot of sense to come to Florida. If you’re a recruit you get the best of all worlds coming here. Plus, we have sunshine and palm trees, which is pretty nice too.”