Florida’s Dan Mullen on consideration list of coaches for expected NFL opening with New York Jets

By Adam Silverstein
January 2, 2021
Florida’s Dan Mullen on consideration list of coaches for expected NFL opening with New York Jets
Football

Image Credit: ESPN Images

With a 29-9 record in three seasons with the Florida Gators, head coach Dan Mullen has made plenty of headlines this season — for the right and wrong reasons. That has apparently not dissuaded potential interest in one of college football’s top coaches as the New York Jets reportedly have Mullen on their list of candidates under consideration for the job that will be vacated by a soon-to-be-fired Adam Gase.

Mullen is named as one of eight coaches “slated to be considered” for the opening, according to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero, who also mentioned three NFL assistants, Iowa State coach Matt Campbell and Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh before noting “everyone in between” is also a candidate during the Jets expected “lengthy and thorough search.”

This lines up with OnlyGators.com hearing two weeks ago from a source connected with the agent side of NFL coaching searches that the Jets had completed due diligence into Mullen. At the time, he was not considered a top candidate for the position but was certainly a name being legitimately vetted for the position.

Mullen is an attractive potential candidate for NFL openings due to his offensive proficiency and ingenuity. With quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson finding substantial success in the league, teams want creative, offensive-minded coaches like Mullen, who has proven to be a top-tier developer of signal callers throughout his time at Utah, Mississippi State and two stops at Florida.

The Gators just completed one of the greatest offensive seasons in program history with Mullen helping elevate redshirt senior quarterback Kyle Trask into position as the team’s fifth Heisman Trophy finalist at the position.

Florida finished the 2020 season ranked 14th nationally in scoring offense, averaging nearly 40 points per game. The Gators have scored 163 touchdowns in 38 games under Mullen compared to 93 in 38 games from 2015-17.

Though Florida has brought in strong recruiting classes over the last three seasons, it has not recruited at a championship level under Mullen, and it often seems as if that side of college football is at odds with his preferred focus: the Xs and Os. Mullen has long been considered a potential NFL coaching candidate, even while he was leading Mississippi State, but it is not believed that he has seriously pursued such an opportunity at this juncture.

The local Jacksonville Jaguars are also expected to have an opening for a general manager and head coach. Reports last week had the Jags inquiring about the availability of former Florida and Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, and there does appear to be momentum toward him taking that job if available, according to Rapoport. If Meyer does not take over at Jacksonville, current Ohio State head coach Ryan Day is reportedly a top target. Mullen is not listed as an option for the Jags.

Mullen said during the season that he had not heard from nor had discussions with any NFL teams, though such a stance is not uncommon as contact usually begins through agents while games are being played.

It does not appear as if Mullen is focused on another opportunity at this time as the Gators seem to be in the midst of rebuilding the defensive side of their coaching staff after reportedly firing two assistants this week.

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