Since he arrived on the job back in November, Florida Gators head coach Dan Mullen has worked to build a new sense of excitement around the program.
From personally speaking to different student body groups to inviting first responders and faculty and staff members to spring practices, tons of efforts have been made to connect with Gator Nation.
Bringing that energy back all starts with Saturday’s Orange and Blue Debut, and Mullen has high expectations not only for his team, but for Gators’ fans as well.
Mullen thought back to when he ran in the Boston Marathon a few years back to give an interesting analogy.
“I tried not to even think about things during the week so I could have a lot to think about when I go on this 20-mile run by myself,” he said. “Then you go run the race, and you don’t think anything of it. I was at a way faster pace because you’ve got half a million people going crazy, and it’s just like, ‘How hard did you go?’”
He believes the same thing happens on the football field.
The more people who are there watching, the more inclined players are to give their best effort.
“You feel the energy from the stadium around you,” Mullen said. “It lifts up your level of play. It’s easier to go harder. You just naturally go faster.”
Not only does Mullen want to have an outstanding turnout for the sake of his current players, but also for the sake of future ones.
Recruits will be watching on Saturday, and every Saturday in the fall.
Outstanding environments can go a long way in their eyes. After all, no one wants to be a part of a program that doesn’t draw great support.
“We’re going to have some of the best players in America coming to visit and see what game day is like in the Swamp,” Mullen said. “They’re going to go to other top programs and compare the two. We want to make sure when they walk out of here, whether it is our spring game or whoever it is we are playing, every single game, when you walk into the Swamp it is the most electric atmosphere in college football. And these young players say, ‘That’s where I want to be. That’s the environment I want to play in. That’s the team I want to play for.’”
The record attendance for a Florida spring game was 61,000 back in 2008. The previous record was 58,500 in Urban Meyer’s debut in 2005.
Mullen has seen some large spring game crowds, and those are pretty good numbers, but the Gators want to shatter the record this year.
“We want a lot more than that,” Mullen said. “We’ll be there. We’ll be going hard. We’ll be giving relentless effort. The question is who else in the Gator Nation is going to be giving relentless effort on Saturday? That’s their challenge.”