Dan Mullen wants 'Bama.
At least, Florida's head believes the Southeastern Conference is better served if it increases the frequency of some of its cross-divisional contests as Mullen's Gators get set to host top-ranked Alabama Saturday inside The Swamp – the Tide's first trip to Gainesville, Florida, since 2011. The No. 11 Gators entertain No. 1 Alabama at 3:30 p.m. (CBS).
“If we got rid of maybe the permanent games in the SEC, you would have more opportunities to play these games, which the fans love,” Mullen said on the SEC teleconference. “2011 seems a long time between playing a conference team at home."
The Gators and Tide met last December in the SEC Championship Game, their third time vying for the league's title since their last regular-season matchup in 2014 at Alabama.
“I think it would be really good for the league to have them more often, I think it would be exciting for the fans and all of that stuff,” Mullen said. “I think what we've seen in football over the last couple of years, these rivalry games kind of come and go. This has been a big rivalry, I think it is really exciting the more you get to play different teams within your league.”
Mullen cited the old Auburn-Florida rivalry as a more recent casualty of SEC expansion and divisional play, while he also noted the league's pending expansion with Oklahoma and Texas.
Alabama coach Nick Saban long has used his perch to advocate for more SEC games on the schedule – and to have more games against varied SEC foes.
“I think ever since we went to more teams in the SEC, the only way to play everybody is to play more SEC games,” Saban said Wednesday. “I've been an advocate of that for some time without very little support. I don't know how you do it when you only play eight SEC games, six in your division, one natural rivalry you keep, one team a year from the other side that rotates. ...
“I've always said it would be great if every player on your team got to play every school in the SEC in his career. With the current format, that's just not possible.”