Daily Football Fix: Media and Vegas agree Mullen will revive Gators


The college football season is quickly approaching, which means analysts and beat reporters across the country are scrambling to file any remaining hot takes and predictions.

And Florida and coach Dan Mullen seem to be a hot button topic of discussion, with the consensus being that the Gators will come close to doubling their win total from last season.

It’s no secret where the basis for these takes comes from: analysts and media professionals alike around the country expect Mullen to resurrect the Gators and return the program to the levels of success seen when he was the program’s offensive coordinator under Urban Meyer.

No pressure, right?

If SEC Media Days is anything to go by, expectations are already high in Mullen’s first season at Florida. The media selected the Gators to finish third in the SEC Eastern Division this season, two places higher than UF finished in Jim McElwain’s final season at the helm. Although the media’s assessment is hardly a foregone conclusion for where a team will finish — the contingent has correctly predicted the conference winner just six times in the last 25 seasons — it’s clear Mullen receives much credit for Florida’s predicted revival in 2018.

But it’s hardly just the media who believe Mullen and the Gators will nearly double their win total from 2017.

As the 2018 season approaches, let’s recap where the notable names have pegged Florida to finish in Mullen’s first season as head coach.

First, let’s look at the Las Vegas odds.

America’s gambling Mecca has UF’s win total at 7.5 wins, the same odds given to Florida State and a higher total than LSU. Oddsmakers have seemingly sweetened on the Gators, however. ESPN’s Football Power Index gives the Gators a 65 percent chance of winning nine different games in 2018, and Florida’s expected win total has actually risen in the three months since concluding spring camp, up from BetDSI’s prediction of seven wins made back in April.

Next, Forbes Magazine’s David Ching did a breakdown of both Florida and Mississippi State coming into the season, concluding the Bulldogs will win eight games while UF tallies seven victories in 2018. Ching concludes that Mullen is “going to win at Florida, too, and don’t be surprised if it happens quickly,” before saying “it’s hardly a bold prediction to project his Gators as Georgia’s toughest competition in the East this fall.”

And then there’s highly respected college football analyst Phil Steele, who works as a columnist for the Orlando Sentinel and appears to have a high opinion of Mullen and his coaching prowess.

A publisher of an annual college football preview magazine, Steele has long been labelled one of the go-to analysts in the game, and his opinion carries a significant level of credence. Which makes him placing the Gators at No. 17 overall — one place ahead of the in-state Seminoles — in his preseason Top-25 rankings especially interesting.

Rather than stop there — ranking a team No. 17 that went 4-7 last season is gutsy after all — Steele appears all in on Mullen and UF, dubbing Florida his “No. 1 most-improved team” in the process.

“Dan Mullen always gets the most out of his squads and steps into a great situation as Florida was devastated by suspensions and injuries, then coaching turmoil. Mullen inherits 19 starters,” Steele wrote.

247Sports concurred, citing Mullen as the primary reason behind Florida’s predicted resurrection.

“Mullen inherits the best situation out of any first-year SEC coach in a division that’s wide open behind front-runner Georgia,” wrote 247Sports. “The Gators welcome Jordan Scarlett back after a one-year suspension and hope all five starters returning up front helps a new-look offense. Florida’s bread is always buttered on defense and if that unit plays well, the Gators could challenge for nine victories.”

After the public display of futility that the 2017 season was for Florida, nine victories would likely be rewarded with another block party on West University Avenue.



    • Joe May: It was a UPD police report from eight weeks ago. No charges have come from the closed investigation. It’s a story if they face UF discipline because of it. The police report largely hinges on an account from a person UPD gave a “no trespass” warning for the next three years. Pat Dooley is on vacation.

      • Thanks. It’s a mistake to breathe a sigh of relief and act like it’s nothing. There is still risk here..so it’s like you have to start all over again in a way knowing you have a new problem on top of your other problems. Sounds drastic I guess but 4 and 7 has happened twice in the last 5 years. We have a lot to work on imo.

      • Arnold. Yes, no charges have been filed on the players or anyone else. But the players were carrying what looked like AR 15s (actually painted to look like one) on the UF campus. And two of the players had been arrested previously for having and shooting a gun (a powerful BB gun) into a dorm doorway. And the incident was on campus and could have exploded into something much more dangerous for all the students living, studying, and walking around the UF campus. And also the fact that these players had been hanging out previously with someone known for illegal gambling activities. I can only imagine the interest the NCAA now has concerning those players association with that person. The behavior of the football players, and particularly Wells and Cleveland, showed a total lack of respect for the university system, the welfare of the students on campus, the back of their new head coach, and also the NCAA and their investigative ability; as well as everyone in Gator Nation that has suffered through the total embarrassment of the 11 last year and Wilkins apparent violent aggression towards women already this year. It was a story that your team should have covered and reported, in my opinion. And especially since you are located in Gainesville. Clearly, other papers and internet sites thought it was worth reporting.

          • Arnold. You and your staff do a great job most of the time. But a Gainesville paper should have been all over this and first on this. Just my perspective. I know, if he was still alive, Hugh Cunningham, would have chewed me out if I was a local sports reporter and he the editor and I whiffed on this story and a paper way down south did not.

          • TampaGator: No paper in Jacksonville had it up this morning and ESPN just put it up on site.

          • Arnold. ESPN reported it was a Jacksonville paper that first reported this story. The one I read online last night was from south Florida, and I posted “sorry” because I thought I had it wrong. Guess not. Maybe ESPN did. But the one I read last night had the story first. Then one of the recruiting sites got it up on their internet site. Then another. And so forth. I think G-Sports was forced to run something finally.

          • Arnold. Check my post last night around 10pm on the story about Watkins being released from jail. That is when I first read about this story online on some paper’s online page. Do not remember the name. I though it was in the West Palm area. Just not sure. ESPN said it was Jacksonville. You say not. Oh well, I read it somewhere last night. Did not make it up.

          • TampaGator: The story first broke Wednesday night on First Coast News, a TV station in Jacksonville which also has a website. I’m sure you read it from their site or someone linking to their story.

  1. Vegas = Apoiled Gator Fans!!!

    It seems Vegas and all these experts must secretly be spoiled Gator fans since only spoiled Gator fans expect the team to actually win games. Why are these spoiled fans disguised as Vegas odds-makers always demanding such outrageous results as wins and competing for titles?

    Over the years if I have learned anything from reading the Sun its that only spoiled Gator fans expect competent coaching. All the other fans at all the other schools want to lose games and have nothing but three and outs all the time! Only spoiled Gators expect better.

    So, clearly, Vegas is now being run by spoiled Gator fans! Boooooo! Losing is winning and failure is success! (That’s also the title of Jeremy Foley’s upcoming book on his magic formula for hiring football coaches. Subtitle: Zook Me, Baby, One More Time!).

  2. UF doesn’t have to be twice as good to win twice as many games, since UF would likely have won 5, not 4, last year, if not for the hurricane.
    And UF absolutely SHOULD be better, for so many reasons. The O can’t be any worse, and the situation personnel wise on O is better than last year at every position. And with a coach who actually is capable of installing a competent O and calling reasonable plays. The D is deeper and more experienced overall, without passive Randy’s coaching. Biggest potential area for a decline is in the kicking game, though we can be hopeful there, as well. The team is bigger and stronger now that they don’t have to leave the campus to get a good workout(could you imagine that happening at Bama?).
    Now you just need to recruit better, coach Mullen, if you are to challenge GA annually.

  3. The strange thing is the story eventually BROKE. And still, I hope & pray it’s NOTHING more than a bunch of big mouth, young kids, talking crap. The only part of the story that truly bothered me was Toney saying he, ”needed some protection”, and he found it in an AIR-GUN?!? Damn man, that’s some stupid stuff!
    I can see why U.F. / A.A.U., whomever, did NOT want this going public. The timing sucks! I’d rather it came out back in June, because by now ”’THIS” would be over already.
    But I do love this site, and I don’t hold any grudges for doing what they thought was best for them and the Univ. of Florida. GO GATORS!