Florida Gators head coach Dan Mullen didn't want to talk recruiting during his Monday afternoon press conference today, dismissing the question by one of the local reporters during his Zoom call.
"We're in the season now," Mullen said to the reporter. "We'll do recruiting after the season – when it gets to recruiting time we can talk about recruiting."
Recruiting, of course, is one of the staples of a college program and is thought to be a year-round venture as coaches split their time between bringing in the best players from the high-school level and preparing the current team for the battles that go on in-season against their fellow competitors.
This year, Florida has been heavily critiqued for its efforts in recruiting, losing multiple player commitments over the course of the last month alone. Combined that with the football team's four losses on the year, and the question of whether or not the program is bringing in the best players to get the job done is worth asking.
Today, Mullen dismissed that opportunity to address the team-building part of his team.
Specifically, the question posed to Mullen was this: "Recruiting has come up recently, different approach needed for more consistency?"
The answer, stated above, was short and met with a quick "next question," following it. This isn't typical of coaches, and often other coaches will answer questions on recruiting, even after a game.
For instance, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart answered a recruiting question immediately following his team's victory over Florida on Saturday. He was specifically asked where his mindset of always recruiting comes from, and why he has so much success with it.
“If you don’t recruit, there’s no coach out there that can out-coach recruiting,” Smart said in postgame. “I don’t care who you are. The best coach to ever play the game better be a good recruiter because no coaching is going to out-coach players. Anybody will tell you that our defense is good because we have good players.”
Smart would go on in his lengthy answer by saying that spending time with people on the phone, at their homes and on campus, it's valuable.
That time spent is a sacrifice made by his own family so that he can have the opportunity to spend that time. Specifically, Smart said that it's 25 percent evaluation, 50 percent recruiting and another 25 percent coaching.
"But if you don't recruit guys, you don't have a chance. Just go look at the best teams out there. They've got good football players. And that's why I believe in recruiting."
That lengthy statement is the antithesis to the message that Mullen sends out when refusing to answer a simple question at a crucial point in the season. Especially when the program hasn't appeared on the better side of recruiting as of late.
Over the past month, the Gators have fallen seven spots in SI recruiting rankings. They currently hold 13 verbal commitments, including just one SI99 member, ranked at 22nd overall.
Here is what SI's John Garcia had to say about Florida's recruiting efforts in the month of October:
No program had a busy October on the decision front than Florida, in both directions no less. While it added a pair of strong in-state prospects in wide receiver Jayden Gibson and defensive lineman Jamari Lyons, a trio of prospects de-committed from the program including the highest-ranked recruit in linebacker Shemar James. Tight end CJ Hawkins flipped to Stanford and defensive back Julian Humphrey looks to be headed elsewhere in the SEC following his defection.
While Mullen's answer on the recruiting question is fine as it is, and in context is a simple refusal to answer a question on the subject, not to say the program isn't recruiting at all in-season, the response and criticism immediately sent out over social media demonstrates the problem clearly.
The responses to this tweet of the quote from Mullen tell the tale:
Even on Saturday, following the team's demoralizing loss to the Bulldogs, Mullen answered a question on recruiting. Whether or not the team was holding rope well enough in the area. Here was his full response:
In recruiting? I don’t know, we just finished the game. It’s a game day today. Yeah, we have to continue to recruit harder, we have to continue to get better, we have to continue to get great players. I think our guys recruit hard. We have to find guys that fit the Gator Standard and are excited to come play with the Gators and have guys that have that great energy and have that great desire to come play for the Gators.
The answer was broad, and expected, but yet still didn't hold much weight. It was at least answered, unlike today, when the game was over and the week had just begun.
Now, Florida will head into their final four games of the season with plenty to work on, even outside of recruiting. The team won't get better right now, but they will have plenty of issues to address following the year. Apparently, that's also when Mullen will answer some questions on the subject, too.
Stay tuned to AllGators for continuous coverage of Florida Gators football, basketball and recruiting. Follow along on social media at @SI_AllGators on Twitter and Florida Gators on Sports Illustrated on Facebook.