GAINESVILLE — Florida Gators fans concerned about Dan Mullen’s long-term future with the program can breathe easier. Mullen said repeatedly Monday that he’s happy at Florida and doesn’t have any plans to leave for the league or anywhere else.
“I think everyone knows I plan on being here for a long time,” Mullen said.
His name popped up briefly with last year’s NFL coaching carousel, and it could surface again this time, especially if the Cowboys fire Jason Garrett. Mullen recruited and coached Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott at Mississippi State, and he’s regarded as an elite tactician and offensive mind that could make him attractive to the pros.
But Mullen echoed Monday what he said at an Orange Bowl event last week: He has given no serious thought to the NFL and how the leadership and decision-making structures work there.
“I still haven’t had a chance to even consider it, what it would entail,” Mullen said. I know how it works here. I like it here…
“You’re kind of the owner, GM, vice president and head coach. I’ve got a lot of control with how the program works here.”
He almost certainly wouldn’t have that much control in the NFL — especially at a franchise like Dallas, where owner Jerry Jones calls the shots.
Mullen said repeatedly that he is happy at UF. So he takes the speculation surrounding his future as a sign that he’s doing a good job with the Gators.
“Anytime your name gets brought up with other jobs, a lot of times it’s a compliment,” Mullen said. “It means you’re doing well. I dealt with it for years and years and years at Mississippi State.”
Another reason Mullen said he doesn’t plan to leave UF: He thinks he’s building an elite program capable of contending for titles soon. The latest step will come Wednesday when the early signing period begins. Mullen’s class has 16 blue-chip commits and is No. 8 nationally in the 247Sports composite rankings.
“I love being here,” Mullen said. “I think we’re building a championship program here.”
Mullen said he’s had very brief talks with athletic director Scott Stricklin about his future. Those discussions won’t become more formal until after the bowl game. He has four more years remaining on an initial six-year deal that pays him about $6 million annually.