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Stricklin: Expectation is to achieve at a high level for a sustained period of time

November 21, 2021
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Athletics Director Scott Stricklin held a press conference Sunday following his dismissal of Dan Mullen as the head football coach of the Florida Gators.

Here are the main takeaways.

  • “Sorry to interrupt your Sunday and sorry we’re here having this conversation.” An apologetic Stricklin took the podium just an hour and a half after the university released an official statement detailing coach Mullen’s dismissal.
  • Stricklin mentioned that he extended Mullen the opportunity to coach his final game against FSU, an offer Mullen declined. “He made the decision that he thought he would be a bit of a distraction if he was around this week after this news came out,” Stricklin said.
  • Mullen was present as Stricklin spoke to players and staff earlier in the day. According to Stricklin, Mullen encouraged the team to focus on the things that they can control as Mullen’s fate had already been decided. Mullen was then followed by now Interim Head Coach Greg Knox who detailed the plan for preparations ahead of the FSU game. Stricklin emphasized that the players were focused on the upcoming game as he began the process of finding a new head coach.
  • In response to being asked about the rapid decline from having competed in the playoffs a year earlier to the current state of uncertainty, Stricklin ensured that program is evaluated constantly rather than a scramble to diagnose the problem once things go wrong. “Conversations Dan and I have had in that time about how we get back to where we want to be, competing on a high level and having sustained success,” Stricklin said.
  • Sustained success was Stricklin’s emphasis throughout the press conference as the ideal in both finding a new candidate and the desired result from a new hiring. “Obviously we want somebody who can come in here and they share our high expectations for sustained success and can do so at a place with great resources like the University of Florida.”
  • When asked about why the program seems stuck in a cycle of firing its coaches, Stricklin looked to consistency as the deciding factor. “It’s interesting, all three of those coaches, even going back to the one before, actually have things that they could look to that brought a lot of pride to the University.” Stricklin detailed BCS Bowls, and SEC championship game appearances. But mentioned that the challenge was in the program’s inability to sustain that success.
  • Stricklin mentioned that he woke up this morning with the feeling of a need for change, clarifying that he did not make the decision progressively as the season went sour. “Dan was our coach, and I was fully supportive of him. But, once you get that feeling that it’s time to do something different, you need to go ahead and do it. I woke up this morning with that feeling and so we moved ahead.”
  • “We’d love to have one tomorrow but that’s probably not realistic,” Stricklin said that there was no established timetable to find a new head coach, rather the time needed to hire the right coach was going to be taken. “We’re going to move as quickly as we can, we’re going to use every available resource at our disposal whether its contacts or anything else to get as much information to make the right decision.”
  • Stricklin backed the program as an attractive competitor in the market, mentioning its accolades and prestige as major factors in the search for a new coach. “We won 251 SEC Championships in our history as a university, that’s 100 more than the closest SEC school, we won 42 national championships across all sports, three in the sport of football. We want someone who has high expectations and big aspirations that match the university of Florida, a place that’s a top-five public university. I think it’s easily a top-five athletic program. We want someone who wants to be a part of that.”
  • When asked about how recruiting success played into looking at new candidates: “I think that what makes a successful coach, there’s three main components: Their ability to lead a group, their ability to put that team together, and the third is their ability to coach that team. When you look at recruiting, that’s a really important part of that second function of putting the team together,” Stricklin said. Coach Mullen had faced criticism throughout the season for his passive answers to questions of opposing coaches repeatedly beating him on the recruiting trail as commits decomitted and flipped to rival schools with each Gator loss.
  • When asked about paying Mullen’s full buyout: Stricklin responded with, “We will fulfill the contract as written.” The media asked if he spoke with any of the players, “I have not actually, no conversations of note.”
  • The expectations year after year: “To achieve at a high level for a sustained period of time. Florida is a place you like to aspire to that we have incredible resources and an incredibly passionate fan base.”
  • On the market for head coaches: “You know I just don’t want to come across as pretentious, but you know we’ve got a really good job and I feel like there is something we need to do for the University of Florida moving forward, and the process that other schools are going through really doesn’t impact what we need to do at the University of Florida.”
  • Stricklin mentioned that he understands there is going to be a lot of traffic and activity, also that the Gators’ will be able to attract a big candidate.
  • On the fan base and the hostility: “I think you guys do in all seriousness, you know we hear from fans and Gator nation is incredibly supportive and they are incredibly passionate. It is what makes the University of Florida special. You know I get it nobody likes losing, I get upset when we lose. The fans are not indifferent and haven’t lost interest.”
  • When asked about the expectations being unrealistic for being a head coach at UF: Stricklin responded, “I don’t think so no.”
  • On pursuing a successful head coach: “You know I have a pretty good idea we want someone who has high expectations, and you know that has a plan on how they can sustain that for a long period of time, but there is more that goes into that. I think you try to utilize all the resources whether it is analytics, results on the field and we are going to look at a cultural fit someone who can help us bring a championship here.”
  • When asked if the team would have won last night would Mullen have been still fired: “You know it is hard to speculate.”
  • The media asked how the decision came about and why this morning: “None of us got much sleep because of the travel day coming back from Missouri it was a short rest, but there was some sleep involved. I was at home this morning and was kind of going through my thoughts and kind of came to this decision.”
  • On if he is prepared to hire the next head coach: “You know I think just like you guys follow the sport, and we have a pretty good understanding of what the market looks like, and you know understand certainly the schools that have gone out their mid-season or early season in the case of some schools. And we have a pretty good feel for that. We are going to learn a lot more in the days ahead.”
  • Stricklin expressed to the media that the market is challenging, and the University of Florida is committed to being highly successful in football.”

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Rafael de los Santos and Joseph Munroe contributed to this report

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WCC: Updates on everything they had to say can be seen HERE.

Stricklin: Expectation is to achieve at a high level for a sustained period of time

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