Who knows, maybe all this social media speculation about Dan Mullen and the Dallas Cowboys becomes reality at the end of the NFL season and Jerry Jones puts a call in to the Florida coach seeking to lure him to the pros, where Mullen would be reunited with Dak Prescott, his former star quarterback at Mississippi State.
If that call (or any others from NFL owners seeking a new head coach now or in the near future) comes, Mullen certainly would take it. And, yes, he would listen. And, yes, he might consider a possible move. But, no, he probably would not go at this stage of his career.
At least that’s the impression he left on everyone Monday with his comments about the NFL and his current job at Florida.
“When I said to someone who asked the other day about the NFL and I still haven’t had a second to even consider it and what it would entail,” Mullen said. “I don’t know. I know what I have here. I love being here. I think we’re building a championship program here. At some point in my life would it be something that if I wrote it all down, sat down to consider it that it would happen? But it’s nothing I’ve even thought of.
“I know how it works here. I like it here. I don’t want to make it sound too big, but you’re kind of the owner, GM, Vice President and head coach (in college). I’ve got a lot of control here. You’re in control of everything. That’s why everybody looks at it and knows the situation we’re in, knows the type of program this is. This is not a place you’re looking to leave.”
Mullen’s name has come up, and likely will come up in the future, linking him to NFL head coaching jobs because of the job he did at Mississippi State in nine years and what he’s doing now at Florida.
In his two seasons in Gainesville, the Gators are 20-5 and playing in their second consecutive New Year’s Six bowl game, with a chance to finish the season in the final top 10 in the nation for the second straight year.
His overall record is attractive to the NFL. And so is his offense — an efficient pro-style passing attack that features elements of the spread, which is rapidly gaining popularity in pro football.
Put it all together — along with the fact Dallas may be looking for a new coach at the end of the season and Prescott is the key player in the franchise’s success — and it’s fairly easy to see where all this speculation about Mullen and the NFL is coming from.
Mullen said it’s not a distraction, it’s a compliment.
“I don’t think it’s a big deal that people pay much attention to within the program,” he said. “I haven’t seen a whole lot of that. I think our guys know I plan on being here for a long time. And I love being here. I think that probably makes some of them nervous. I’ll look at the young guys and say, ‘Freddie Swain might not be here, but I’ll still be here, for sure.’ They laugh at that.
“Anytime your name gets brought up with other jobs, a lot of times, it’s a compliment. It means you’re doing well. I dealt with it for years and years and years at Mississippi State. Your name would get brought up for things. It means you’re doing well within a program. I look at it in those terms. But I think everyone knows I plan on being here for a long time.”
Scott Stricklin plans on the same — Mullen being here long term. That’s why the UF athletic director and Mullen have sort of broached the subject of a possible contract extension and likely raise for Mullen, who is in the second year of a six-year, $36.6-million contract that pays him an annual salary of $6.1 million.
“Very, very, very briefly,” Mullen said, when asked if he and Stricklin had discussed an extension. “Not a whole lot. I mean, maybe not into really contract extension, (but) into, ‘Hey, you’re doing a great job, we want you here at Florida.’ So, I feel pretty good about my job security in the short term, anyway (laughs).
“Right now, getting through the season, season ends, immediately into the recruiting, signing day coming up, bowl game. And I know Scott’s been on the (College Football Playoff committee). Everything running around.
“I will say this: I think after the bowl game, everyone will have a chance to kind of catch their breath, and figure out where we are at, and evaluate where we are as a program. We’ve got to sit down and do that, and really look back at every little aspect of the program and where we are at.”