Savage sets the tone for Mullen’s culture change at Florida

In his introductory press conference Dan Mullen elicited laughter when relayed a message to media. Mullen said he told his team in their very first meeting together to go home and enjoy their Christmas break because they were going to have a January to remember with Nick Savage.

The players, too, probably laughed. They’re all Division I athletes, physical specimens. What could they possibly be put through that they haven’t done in some form or fashion?

They weren’t laughing long.

“I think early on it was immediate it was an eye-opener that this was going to be different,” Savage said. “From day one on the campus run we took and then the first couple of weeks in the weight room. As we’ve progressed through obviously it’s not pedal down all the way from day one. You’ve got to kind of take your steps and build them up. Once that pedal got cranked down, it was a real eye-opener.”

Then there was the infamous Valentine’s Day workout. It’s designed to be tough, to get the most out of guys, push them past what they thought their limit was. Going along with the theme of the day, Savage did some decorating in the weight room.

“All Valentine’s,” Savage said laughing. “Hearts, banners, Cupid, everything. Custom shirts. Yeah.”

But the workout was not hearts and candy. It elicited tweets like this.

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Savage, who turns 29 next week, has risen through the ranks at an incredible pace. A native of Youngstown, Ohio Savage attended Youngstown State. He earned his Master’s from Toledo and then interned at Bowling Green and Ohio State. His time with the Buckeyes is where his career got a kick-start under Mickey Marotti.

Mullen and Marotti had a previous relationship while both coached under Urban Meyer, which made it easy for him to get a recommendation from Marotti when he needed to add someone to his strength staff, which Savage did in 2014.

When Rick Court left Mississippi State for Maryland, Mullen gave Savage a shot to run the strength program as the Bulldogs prepared for the Belk Bowl. Mullen was sold and Savage got the job permanently at just 26 years old. When Mullen took the job at Florida he wasn’t going to leave Savage in Starkville. He knew the expectations of Florida fans and the expectations he would have for his team.

It didn’t take long for Savage to earn that respect and begin to lay the foundation for the culture change that Mullen wanted to create in Gainesville.

“I loved the last coaching staff, but Coach Savage is a bit more, I want to say, strenuous,” quarterback Feleipe Franks said. “It’s just different and at the same time, Coach Savage is a really good strength coach. He’s whipping us into shape real quick. You can already see the results.”

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC