Gators hire Dan Mullen as next head football coach

Former Florida offensive coordinator led Mississippi State to 69-46 record

Dan Mullen, pictured here before a game against the Auburn Tigers on Sept. 26, 2015, has been named head coach at Florida.
Dan Mullen, pictured here before a game against the Auburn Tigers on Sept. 26, 2015, has been named head coach at Florida. (Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Gators have hired Dan Mullen away from Mississippi State to be their next head football coach.

Florida announced the hire Sunday.

Mullen, who has led the Bulldogs to a 69-46 record in nine seasons with the Bulldogs, was offensive coordinator for the Gators under Urban Meyer from 2005-08.

Gators athletic director Scott Stricklin worked with Mullen at Mississippi State.

"I have such great memories of the championships we won during our time here and have a love for Florida," Mullen said in a statement. "We are happy to be coming back to such a supportive administration, staff, student body and fan base, which is the premier football program in the country."

Florida had reportedly pursued former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly and Central Florida head coach Scott Frost before turning to Mullen, who coached Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow during his tenure in Gainesville. Kelly was recently hired by UCLA, and Frost is reportedly in negotiations to take the open Nebraska job.

"I strongly believe Dan is the most prepared candidate to have immediate and long-term success at the University of Florida," Stricklin said. "Coach Mullen is one of the best offensive minds in all of college football and has an unbelievable track record in tutoring successful quarterbacks."

Other quarterbacks to have played for Mullen are former No. 1 overall NFL draft pick Alex Smith and current Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.

Mullen, 45, was named Southeastern Conference coach of the year in 2014 after leading the Bulldogs to their first-ever No. 1 ranking and a berth in the Orange Bowl. Mississippi State has been to seven consecutive bowl games under Mullen and is bowl eligible for an eighth straight year.

The Gators (4-7, 3-5 SEC) fired Jim McElwain earlier this season and named Randy Shannon interim head coach. Florida concluded its second losing season since 1979 with a 38-22 loss to rival Florida State at home on Saturday.

Florida, once known for its "fun 'n' gun" offense under former coach Steve Spurrier, has statistically been one of the worst offenses in the country under McElwain.

The Gators are counting on Mullen to recreate the offensive firepower that has been absent since Tebow left campus nearly a decade ago.

Florida won a pair of national championships (2006 and 2008) with Mullen at the helm of the offense.

Mullen's offense ranked third nationally in scoring in 2008, averaging more than 45 points per game. The 587 points scored surpassed the previous mark set by the Gators during their 1996 national championship season.

"We will give relentless effort in everything that we do on and off the field," Mullen said. "Our commitment will match the passion that the Gator nation has for this program."