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Defensive Dan Mullen: Now isn't the time for Florida to focus on recruiting

Mullen says the Gators will "do recruiting after the season" despite mounting losses and a class ranked 22nd nationally and 9th in the SEC.
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Not that he seemed to mind, but Dan Mullen didn't exactly do anything to endear himself to University of Florida fans nor to recoup any of the public's lost confidence in the Gators after they were shellacked, 31-7, last Saturday by heated rival and top-ranked Georgia.

So on Monday, when the fourth-year Gators' coach Mullen was asked if perhaps Florida needed a reset in recruiting, Mullen doubled-down in a tense exchange that ended with Mullen's command for “next question.”

“Nah, we're in the season right now. We'll do recruiting after the season. When it gets recruiting time we can talk about recruiting. OK? Next question.”

Florida's recruiting efforts – fine on a national scope, backsliding in the cut-throat Southeastern Conference, where the Gators' 2021 class that 247Sports ranked 12th nationally was only good enough for fifth in the SEC – have come under increasingly scrutiny as the Gators' losses against Power 5 foes have mounted in the past 11 months.

Mullen has led Florida to just two wins in its last 10 games against Power 5 foes dating to Dec. 12, 2020.

And both those wins arrived against rebuilding Tennessee and first-year coach Josh Heupel in September as well as last month against SEC cellar-dweller Vanderbilt, which also hired away coveted defensive coordinator Clark Lea, a Commodores' alum, in an attempt to revive that program.

Otherwise, it's been eight losses – setbacks that included a 35-point blowout-loss to Oklahoma to end the 2020 season in the Cotton Bowl and Mullen's third loss in four tries against Georgia.

Two of those losses have been by 19 or more points, and that on-field discrepancy has mirrored the two programs' opposite trajectories in recruiting.

Mullen also lost twice in that span to LSU and Ed Orgeron – the same Orgeron LSU announced it had fired last month less than 24 hours after the Tigers defeated Florida.

And this week, Orgeron was asked about his work to still recruiting for LSU.

“I still took a picture with everybody at the stadium (when recruits came on visits),” Orgeron said. “They love LSU.”

Orgeron's comments also follow those of Georgia coach Kirby Smart, who after his team walloped Florida doubled-down on the importance of recruiting.

If you don't recruit,” Smart said, “there is no coach who can out-coach recruiting.”

Smart's Georgia program has consistently challenged perennial signing class king Alabama for the top recruiting hauls in college football.

The Gators, meanwhile, have posted recruiting classes ranked 14th, 9th, 9th, 12th and currently sit 22nd during Mullen's tenure.