There’s winning the press conference, and then there’s what Dan Mullen did over the first half-hour or so of his reintroduction to the world as the Florida Gators’ head coach on Monday.
After brief remarks from Scott Stricklin echoing the words he wrote in a letter sent to fans and published on the team website on Sunday, Mullen took the podium and all but shook the room with his deep enthusiasm for the job he now has at “the premier program in the country,” the sport of football, quarterback play, and life itself.
Mullen spoke of fun and scoring points and spread offense, and hit all the right notes in downplaying things said by him and his wife, Megan, during their time with Mississippi State. He embraced the echoes of great Florida teams past as helpful voices rather than noise in the system, and the expectations of a passionate fan base as the standards an elite program ought to have for itself. He made it clear, both by repeating the phrase “relentless effort” and by giving one over the course of a press conference stretching to nearly an hour, that he is going to work this job as if it is the best job he has ever had.
And I don’t know whether he’s going to do the best in this job that anyone ever has — it’s pretty likely that he won’t, given how stellar Florida’s history is — but I do know that it’s impossible to think today that Dan Mullen won’t make one hell of a run at that distinction.
And I think that may well prove to be a welcome change for Florida fans.