Normally our Five Fast Thoughts takes a look at Florida's performance after a single game. This time around though we are focusing on the state of the program after Dan Mullen’s Gators suffered their fifth loss in the last eight games.
1) On Saturday night, for only the second time in 35 years Florida lost to Kentucky in football. Even with the likes of Ron Zook, Will Muschamp, and Jim McElwain leading the program, the two 'lows' were achieved during Dan Mullen's watch. Forget that Mullen has a 5-6 record against ranked opponents, on Saturday he lost his third game as the UF head coach against an unranked opponent. To put that into perspective, Steve Spurrier didn't lose to an unranked opponent until his 10th season at Florida and only lost twice to unranked opponents in 12 seasons as head coach of the Gators.
2) Just five games in and already any team goals that the Gators set before the start of the season are all but out the window. Yes, mathematically Florida is still alive in the SEC East. However, realistically, the chances of actually pulling it off are all but slim and none. Not only would UF have to win out in conference, including beating what looks like a juggernaut Georgia program, but they would also need Kentucky to lose three of their final five conference games if it is a head-to-head tie. Could lightning strike? Yes. The question is would you be willing to bet anything of significance that it will happen? Probably not.
3) You can argue to what degree, and whether or not Dan Mullen is capable of pulling them out of it, but there's no arguing the fact that Florida football is trending downward. Whether they are in a complete free fall or facing only a slight decline will be answered when they face LSU and Georgia later this month. As it stands today, the Gators are 3-5 over their last eight games. Take away the two cupcakes, Florida Atlantic and South Florida, that they faced to start the season and the Gators are but 1-5 against Power 5 Conference programs in their last six games.
4) It appears that Mullen is exactly who we thought he was going to be when he was hired as the head coach of the Florida Gators. Without question, UF is better off today than they were when he took over for McElwain. But honestly, five games into his fourth season does it really feel like UF has taken the necessary steps to overtake Alabama and Georgia in order to become a consistent College Football Playoff contender?
5) Now, to be clear, while all of this may be a bit depressing to many in the Gator Nation, none of it is to suggest that as of today Mullen should be replaced. However, is there anyone who doesn’t believe that some changes need to be made. It isn't often that a Britney Spears reference makes its way into an article providing observations about a football program. But there is at least one similarity between the two universes. While her father is discontinuing his conservatorship over her affairs, Scott Stricklin – assuming he will keep his job and retains that kind of power and influence – needs to step in and insist Mullen makes some changes. At one time Urban Meyer said he kept an older, experienced coach that he respected on his staff to bounce ideas off of, and in return, help his worst impulses in check. I believe it was Greg Mattison who he credited with talking him out of going for it on fourth down against Arkansas in the 2006 SEC Championship Game and instead punting – which turned out to be an excellent decision. Does Mullen have that person on staff? With some of his own statements and decisions, you have to wonder what kind of feedback he gets from his assistants, and if there is, does he respect them enough to take what they say into consideration, or is it an echo chamber. Some of his decisions, some of the things he's said in the past, as well as his comment that he doesn't believe he was outcoached Saturday night would leave you to believe that self-awareness isn't his strong suit.