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Florida Gators' Dan Mullen Explains Staff Changes, Potential Impact

Florida Gators head coach Dan Mullen met with the media on Monday to explain his reasons for personnel changes and the season moving forward.

Florida Gators head coach Dan Mullen began his press conference on Monday mentioning the difficulty in making a move like he did on Monday, firing two long-time assistant coaches on his staff. The moves, according to Mullen, however, had to be made, and sooner rather than later.

When the Gators enter this week against Samford, they'll do so without both defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and offensive line coach John Hevesy. Grantham will be replaced temporarily by linebackers coach Christian Robinson, while Hevesy is being replaced in the interim by Michael Sollenne who has been with the team in a graduate assistant role since last year.

The potential coaching changes had been weighing on Mullen, he said earlier today. How can the team improve after starting the year at 4-5, including losing its last three matchups, with blow-out losses to both Georgia and South Carolina? How the team gets better was one of his most pressing questions.

Ultimately, it came down to inconsistencies with both Grantham and Hevesy that caused the change, and Mullen believes that changes might be able to provide a spark for the team.

“The hard part for me has been our inconsistencies throughout the year. I think Todd’s an excellent, excellent football coach and there’s times that we’ve played great defense," Mullen said. "We just haven’t done it consistently. We’re one of the top rushing teams in the country — we just haven’t been consistent with John and the offensive line."

At that point, Mullen was confident and sure that he would make changes to the coaching staff, and these specific changes following the year. But, the question lingered, why not just do it now if the changes are set to be made anyway?

"If it’s something I think I was going to do at the end of the season — and I think I was pretty set that I was going to make some changes at the end of the year — I thought we might as well do it now and move on so we can go search for who we’re looking to replace.”

Ultimately, Mullen wasn't forced to make the changes by the administration side of the football program, he said. According to Mullen, while athletic director Scott Stricklin was involved in a meeting with Mullen about the state of the program, he did not force his hand one way or another - the decisions were his own to make, ultimately.

"He was there," said Mullen. "That’s certainly something I discussed with him, and we had discussions about. So, I think he was certainly involved in it, but it certainly wasn’t any pressure. The decision was mine.”

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The next step of the process for Mullen and the Florida football program will be to find long-term solutions, something that the coach will search far and wide to find in order to fill the roles with a couple of the best coaches in the nation. In the short term, however, Mullen feels like the opportunity coming up for his football team against Samford is massive.

"I know where we were, the status quo is not going to be acceptable to us - talked to the team this morning about that," Mullen explained. "I had to explain status quo meant for some of the guys.

"But with where we are we’re not playing, there’s a lot of disappointment with where we’re at in this season. So what we’re looking for is how are we going to change that, and we have the opportunity on Saturday."

Considering his status as the team's head coach and the dramatics of this season, which includes now five losses on the year, the case could have been made potentially about whether or not Mullen would even return this year. With that, the question was asked: How confident is he that he could land qualified coaches for these jobs?

Mullen was bullish about the opportunities that taking a job at Florida would come with.

“This is Florida," said Mullen. "So there’s a long list of people that want any job they can get at the University of Florida in any aspect.”

Asked if the changes will ultimately motivate and energize the football players and the program in general, Mullen replied with a simple "we're going to find out."

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