The weeks are beginning to dwindle until Dan Mullen makes his head coaching debut for the Florida Gators.
While there are certainly expectations on Mullen heading into Year One, it is important to remember that this is a transition year. Year One is about laying the foundation for your team and staff and finding out what works and what does not.
If you look back at Florida football history beginning in 1990, there have been five full-time head coaches prior to Mullen’s arrival. All had high expectations on them entering year one, just like Mullen. Some met those expectations and some did not.
Here is a look at how the five previous head coaches fared at the University of Florida in their first-year on the job.
1990: Steve Spurrier
Despite not being eligible to win the SEC, or even play in a bowl game due to NCAA probation, Florida had a terrific season in Spurrier’s first year. The Gators won nine of their 11 games in 1990 and scored a lot of points in doing so.
Florida scored 27 or more points in nine times as Spurrier took the SEC by storm with his ‘Fun n Gun’ offense.
Talk about establishing a foundation, that is exactly what Spurrier did in 1990 and it lead to more than a decade of excellence under his watch, including six SEC titles and a national championship in 1996.
2002: Ron Zook
After the shock wore off in Gator Nation following the departure of Steve Spurrier, former Gator assistant Ron Zook took over the reins of the Florida football program.
Zook was under intense pressure from the start because he was replacing a legend.
2002 was up and down.
The Gators knocked off two top-five teams, beating No. 5 Tennessee in convincing fashion on the road and securing a win against No. 4 Georgia at the cocktail party in Jacksonville.
But, Florida also experienced blowout losses to Miami, LSU and Florida State, finishing with an 8-5 record which many considered a disappointment.
Zook could never find solid footing as the Florida head coach and was fired in the middle of the 2004 season.
2005: Urban Meyer
The 2005 season was full of optimism for the Gators as Urban Meyer, who had just lead Utah to an undefeated season, took over as head coach. Meyer’s spread offense immediately picked up huge wins over Tennessee, Georgia and Florida State in 2005.
With wins over your three arch-rivals, one would think Meyer’s first-year in Gainesville was a success, but with losses to Alabama, LSU and losing to Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina Gamecocks, the 9-3 mark for Florida in 2005 was considered mildly disappointing.
Meyer would go on to do great things at Florida including coaching a Heisman trophy winner in Tim Tebow and winning national titles in 2006 and 2008.
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