Dan Mullen takes shot at Georgia: 'We play Florida State, they are trying to catch up to us'
Georgia made waves this week across the Southeastern Conference when the school announced a new home-and-home series against Florida State and an additional home-and-home series Clemson (which is already on the books for three other games against UGA). Those games add to an impressive slate of non-conference games Georgia plans to play in the future, including home-and-homes with Texas, UCLA and wrapping one up with Notre Dame in 2019.
Will Florida follow suit and start to add more home-and-home non-conference series outside of the annual showdown with Florida State (which Georgia already matches by playing Georgia Tech annually)? Don’t count on it.
After indicating during his Thursday press conference that he does have a hand in determining the schedule for the Gators, Mullen was asked how aggressive he wants to see Florida’s schedule in the future. Based on his response, he’s happy exactly the way things are in Gainesville.
He even cleverly found a way to take a shot at Georgia in his response, despite his program’s reluctance to beef up its schedule.
“We play Florida State, so people are trying to catch up to us, with how tough are schedule is, to be honest with you. I mean, we play Florida State every year. Right? People make a big deal, Georgia is playing them, they are trying to catch up to us, I guess,” Mullen said. “Toughen their schedule because we play one of the toughest schedules. You’d be hardpressed to find somebody non-conference next year, we are playing Miami and Florida State.”
Would he even consider adding a home-and-home series against a quality opponent? Mullen has only been the coach at Florida for one season but he’s quickly learned that the program’s company line is to hide behind Florida State as an excuse to never have to leave the state for a true road non-conference matchup.
“Like I said, we already have that with Florida State,” Mullen added. “One thing that probably gets looked down upon. Would it be better to drop Florida State and schedule Oklahoma? That probably wouldn’t go over so well.”
Florida’s coach then cited the fact the Gators have to play in the SEC (which Georgia also does last time we checked) and desires to keep as many home dates as possible for many reasons — chief among them is recruiting.
“We already have that in the schedule, Scott (Stricklin) and I talk about it. For one, we play in the Southeastern Conference, so we are already playing one of the toughest schedules in the country,” Mullen continued. “You know, within our recruiting philosophy, one of the other things we do is every other year we are playing a game away from home, already.
“We want to make sure we keep enough home games here in the Swamp for our fans to come see our guys play. This is one of the great stadiums in college football, to make sure we are playing enough games in there. And so I think that’s what’s always tricky. We always try to do what’s best for the program and play games that fit the program. I’ve always been under that deal. I love, I want to do what we think is best for the program.
Perhaps the most laughable argument Mullen had on the subject was when he pointed to Florida’s upcoming USF series. The Gators will host USF twice (in 2022 and 2025) after traveling to South Florida in an away game in 2021.
“I think when you look scheduling wise, since I’ve been here, we’ve tried to do that — with who we have scheduled. And try to make it intriguing for people and fun,” Mullen added. “We have South Florida coming up on the schedule. That’s probably a much bigger game in the state of Florida than it would be to people in Montana but they are more concerned with the Montana-Montana State game. That’s a big game for people in the state of Montana. That’s not as big of a deal for people here. I think we’ve tried to really pay attention to schedule that way and make a schedule that’s good for the program and good for the Gator fans.”
Apparently, Mullen believes Florida fans will be more excited for the USF series than Georgia fans will be to take on Clemson five times, Florida State twice, Texas twice, UCLA twice, Notre Dame in Athens, Oregon in Atlanta and potentially Oklahoma twice.
Is anyone really buying that?