Paul Finebaum suggests Steve Spurrier played a role in Dan Mullen firing
Florida fired Dan Mullen on Sunday following a 1-point overtime loss to Missouri. SEC Network host Paul Finebaum has a theory for what ultimately led to the dismissal.
Speaking on The ESPN College Football Podcast on Sunday, Finebaum speculated that longtime Gator coach Steve Spurrier had a hand in the dismissal.
“This is just my theory and Steve can shoot it down tomorrow, he’s welcome to. I think Spurrier was involved in this,” Finebaum said. “(Florida AD) Scott Stricklin lives across the street from Steve Spurrier. Spurrier hangs out with Stricklin in the (press) box all the time, they’re close.
“The Spurrier wing of the party had had enough of Dan Mullen. They didn’t like his attitude, they didn’t like his quirkiness. They didn’t like the way he berated assistant coaches in front of others. And it rubbed them the wrong way. That much I can tell you. I’m not saying Steve Spurrier pulled the trigger but I sincerely doubt this decision was made without Steve Spurrier’s blessing.”
After he retired from coaching at South Carolina, Spurrier returned to Gainesville and took an ambassador role within the Florida athletic department. He said on a podcast last Friday that “nobody knows exactly what our coaching situation is right now.”
The Head Ball Coach had a 122-27 record while coaching the Gators, and if he and Stricklin are close, it’s not too far out there to suggest the AD might have gone to a close confidant for advice. Finebaum went on to say that external issues brought on by Mullen of late were just as much of an issue as his internal relationships.
“I think the internal (reasons) were obvious, but I think the external things hurt Dan Mullen as well,” Finebaum said. “Even last Monday, he was fighting with the media. He put on that happy front about celebrating the Samford game. You know that rubbed Spurrier’s crowd the wrong way. You just don’t do that.
Finebaum continued that some of Mullen’s quirks were tolerated when he was beating Georgia and getting the Gators to big games. This season, Florida had slipped to 5-6 overall, 2-6 in SEC play, and was a loser in each of its last 4 games against Power 5 opponents.
Finebaum also suggested that Florida might already have a replacement in mind, adding that he doesn’t expect the search to last long.
“This is not going to be LSU going on for two months,” he said.