University of Florida fires Dan Mullen as football coach

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida football coach Dan Mullen was fired on Sunday, a day after the Gators lost for the sixth time in nine games, the school announced.

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The school announced Mullen’s firing on its athletics website.

Mullen, 46, in his fourth season at Florida, will be replaced by Greg Knox, Athletic Director Scott Stricklin said.

Update 3:12 p.m. EST Nov. 21: During a Sunday afternoon news conference, Stricklin said he met with Mullen just before noon and told the coach he thought the program needed to go in another direction.

“He understood. It was actually a very productive conversation,” Stricklin told reporters, adding that Mullen was offered the chance to coach against state rival Florida State on Saturday but ultimately declined the opportunity. “He actually took some time to think about it, but he made the decision that he thought he would be a bit of a distraction if he was around this week.”

Original report: Knox is the team’s special teams coordinator and running backs coach.

The move came after the Gators’ 24-23 overtime loss to Missouri on Saturday. The loss dropped the Gators to 5-6 overall and 2-6 in the Southeastern Conference. It is the team’s fewest SEC wins since 1986, according to The Gainesville Sun. The Gators are also 2-9 in their last 11 games against Power 5 opponents, the newspaper reported.

The Gators have dropped seven consecutive one-possession games over the past two seasons, according to The Associated Press.

Mullen, who is 34-15 in his fourth season at Florida, led the Gators to the SEC championship game last season. However, the team needs to defeat state rival Florida State on Saturday to avoid a losing season.

Mullen led the Gators to bowl games in his first three seasons in Gainesville.

“The Florida football program is going to be here for a long time. It’s not about one game,” Mullen told reporters after Saturday’s loss. “Got to make the program better.”

The Gators will pay Mullen a $12 million buyout spread over seven installments, with a $6 million payout coming within 30 days, the Sun reported. Mullen will then get $1 million every July 15 through 2027, the newspaper reported.

Mullen had been Florida’s offensive coordinator from 2005 to 2008, helping the Gators to a pair of national championships, and was the head coach at Mississippi State from 2009 to 2017, where he was 69-46.

As a head coach, Mullen is 103-61 overall.