Gators’ Dan Mullen more hopeful than optimistic about 2020 season

“I’m certainly hopeful” a season will happen in 2020, Florida’s coach says.
Florida Gators coach Dan Mullen, like everyone else, doesn't know when college football will return.
Florida Gators coach Dan Mullen, like everyone else, doesn't know when college football will return. [ Times ]
Published April 27, 2020|Updated April 27, 2020

Florida coach Dan Mullen doesn’t know what the coronavirus pandemic will do to the 2020 college football season, and he’s not about to make a prediction either.

In his first extended remarks since the pandemic shut down spring football, Mullen said Monday that he’s more hopeful than optimistic that college football will return soon, maybe even as scheduled this fall.

“If you look four months ago we were in a very different place in this country than where we are right now,” Mullen said in a video conference. “So to say where we’ll be in four months is hard to do. But I’m certainly hopeful, I’m sure as everybody is out there.

Related: How the coronavirus pandemic has changed football recruiting

“Hopeful that we find a vaccine and a cure. Hopeful that people are working hard to limit the spread of everything going on. Hopeful that people are trying as best they can to follow the regulations and making the most out of each day that’s going on. And hopeful we get back to whatever our new normal is going to be, and that includes having a football season this fall.”

It remains unclear what needs to happen to get to that point, even from a purely football perspective. Mullen said most coaches would like to have eight weeks of practice and conditioning before kickoff. Six might work, but four would be pushing it.

Then again, the timelines depend on other variables — can you continue social distancing in the weight room as a bridge to full workouts?

Given the circumstances, the Gators seem to be handling things well. Mullen isn’t aware of any players or families who have physically been affected by the virus.

Related: FSU athletic director: ‘God help us’ if there’s no college football

Mullen and his staff have been spending a lot of time recruiting a 2021 class that ranks third nationally in the 247Sports composite. Personally, he’s been running, walking the dog and helping his son, Canon, with math homework.

But the initial adjustment was tough. Mullen had been working since he was 15. He had been a lifeguard, a paper boy, a garage door installer and, eventually a football coach.

With his routine gone, Mullen started waking up at 3 a.m., unsure what to do. After a few weeks, Mullen started to find a new rhythm. He’s trying to make sure his team does the same thing.

Related: Three Florida college takeaways from the NFL draft

“One of the things we talked about, the coaches and our players, was just worry about what we can control,” Mullen said. “And the big thing is, when this is over, are we going to be the team that’s prepared?

“Are we the team that continued to stay in great physical shape? Are we the team that put in extra conditioning, extra training? Are we the team that spent extra time learning and maximizing what we can do and maximizing ourselves of what we can do so we’re a better football team when we get back together than we are when we left?”

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For now, those answers remain unclear — like almost everything else in the sport.