PODCAST: Recapping SEC Media Days for the Florida Gators

GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we recap SEC Media Days for the Florida Gators that took place on Tuesday in Atlanta.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre recap what Dan Mullen had to say during Media Days, plus what the players had to say.

Andrew and Nick also talk about the uniform reveal that took place on Tuesday in Atlanta when the Gators revealed the new Jumpman uniforms.

TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, the unofficial start to football season took place on Tuesday, and we’re just a few short weeks away from the start of fall camp, and then I believe six weeks from Saturday is the start of the season.

Nick:                         Yeah. It kind of sneaks up on you. Once the season ends, there’s almost like two periods. You’re waiting for spring, and that, of course, is the whole recruiting time, where you’re losing sleep. Then once spring is over, it’s kind of get to SEC Media Days, which is the unofficial kickoff to everything. That’s still going on all this week. After this, I think Florida will get ramped up right in the beginning of August.

Andrew:                 I mean, you think about it, it’s the start of that, Media Days, and then it’s Friday Night Lights. Then right after Friday Night Lights is the start of fall camp. While fall camp is long, and it’s the month period of really just press conferences, getting to see a few practices, that kind of thing, it’s definitely the start of football season. It’s definitely the start of where you start to turn your attention and get back refocused. Yeah. I won’t lie, it definitely seems like this off season was a lot shorter, but we did have a coaching change, recruiting, and more spring access.

Nick:                         The coaching change, we’ve been through two here. Have you been through three?

Andrew:                 No. Let’s see. I was with the Muschamp one. Yeah. Three. Muschamp, when Muschamp got hired, and then when McElwain got hired, and now with Mullen.

Nick:                         This is my second one, and this one was much quicker than finding and hiring McElwain. This one was much quicker.

Andrew:                 We didn’t have no stalking of the outside, and then hiring and firing and hiring assistant coaches in the media before they were even hired.

Nick:                         I’m glad you brought this up, because there’s something that was on my mind a little bit yesterday, while we were at Media Days. Somebody from another beat, another beat reporter, said to me, “Florida didn’t get their first choice.” You can debate that point till you’re blue in the face. Was it Scott Frost? Was it Chip Kelly? I said to him, and he agreed, “I don’t think Dan Mullen was their first choice, but I think he’s the right choice.” I think it’s because of the things that you saw from him on his spring speaking tour, the things that you saw from him yesterday at Media Days.

Dan Mullen was asked by somebody about how many times did you hear, can you fix the offense? He says, “I heard it when we were up 20-3 walking into half-time when I was here as the offensive coordinator.” He gets those expectations, and he understands. I know that these are all Gator fans listening to us, but he gets that your expectations aren’t always based in reality. That’s part of being a fan, but he gets that. I don’t know if the other coaches would have gotten that or would have embraced it the way that he has.

Was he the first? I don’t know. I think he was the right guy for the job at this time, especially when you consider the offensive wasteland that Florida’s been for the past eight years, nine years.

Andrew:                 That’s what I was saying to someone yesterday on the message board. We were talking about recruiting. We’ve talked about recruiting, and we talked about recruiting, and we talked about recruiting. Is it where it needs to be? No. Is it where it should be? No. Is it where other coaches who are in their first year are at in recruiting? No. You can debate that. You can find excuses. You can give reasons for that. It is what it is. Recruiting is not where it needs to be. Today, we’re taping this on July 18, it’s not where it needs to be.

Someone asked me, do I think Mullen gets it fixed? I do. Do I think that Mullen gets it fixed this year? I think he turns it around to the point of he makes a respectable class with some very good players. Does he make it a top 5 class? Probably not. Does he get things rolling for 2020, I think is the bigger question for me, when you start to look at what he does this season, that kind of stuff. The one thing that I will say, and, Nick, you and I talked about this yesterday when I asked Mullen. I asked Mullen, “Is the brand more damaged than you thought it was?” He had a very good honest answer, I think. It was an answer that, Nick, I didn’t expect to get. I expected to get coach-speak of it’s not damaged.

Nick:                         I actually have it pulled up, if you want me to read it.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Just read the quote.

Nick:                         He said, “I don’t know if the brand is damaged, as the brand has not been updated. I think the brand is the brand we thought. The brand was so great, so we didn’t change it, and we left the brand as it was. In today’s world, it is always changing, and we need to be sure we’re constantly working and improving the brand to make it better.” New Coke, which almost gave Steve McClain, who was with him, a stroke, because Pepsi is the sponsor, not Coke. Got to get Dan back up on the sponsor awareness train there, but he says, “Like New Coke, sometimes it’s different. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not. They tried to make a change, and it went bad.”

I didn’t get a chance, because it was kind of in a scrum, and they were pressed for time, my question, and I posed it to you, was Dan Mullen always says, “If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.” I think he took a political answer in not saying the brand was damaged, because that might be taken and construed different ways, but if the brand wasn’t getting better, it was getting worse. We’re looking at that from a facilities standpoint all the way through the whole program.

Andrew:                 Like I said, I expected Mullen to take the coach way out and say it wasn’t damaged. I think that I respected him more by that answer. He’s probably right. The Florida brand is the Florida brand. Florida is a well-known brand. Kids are still very excited about it. It just hasn’t been updated, like he said. Offense has been very stale as of late. The fun part of things has went away from there. I guess I agree with what Mullen says a little bit. Again, I respected that answer, and I think that, while he sees that, he also understands that maybe he has more work to do to recruit at Florida. I don’t want to say it was easy, because recruiting is never easy, but I would say it’s not as easy, or easier, than he thought it was going to be. I think that now he knows he has to dig his teeth a little bit in there, get his hands a little more dirty in things and work a little bit harder. Not that he wasn’t working hard.

So, I’m with you, Nick. I think that while he wasn’t maybe the first choice, maybe he wasn’t the best coach, as far as credentials go out there, he might have been the best guy for the job right now. Understanding expectations. Bringing enthusiasm back. For the most part, it does seem like if Mullen was to win, and Florida was to allow him to coach in Gainesville for 15 years, he’d retire in Gainesville.

Nick:                         I think he was the best coach for the job. That’s a hill I’m willing to die on. What’s Chip Kelly doing recruiting at UCLA right now?

Andrew:                 Yeah. No. I’m not disagreeing. I’m saying maybe he didn’t have the most credentials.

Nick:                         Right. No. I agree with that.

Andrew:                 Coaching national titles or anything like that. But I’m with you in that he was probably the guy that was the best coach right now for the job, and Chip Kelly is not doing very well.

I guess, overall, what was your takeaway from the way he handled things start to finish? You and I, we always dissect just a little bit. I think we dissected last year and said Mac was very sensitive over the whole shark incident. How would you grade out Mullen’s game?

Nick:                         This is Dan Mullen’s arena. He is good in this setting, speaking to people. He’s charismatic. He’s cocky. He does well. I would be remiss though to not start off a Dan Mullen reaction to SEC Media Days without talking about the kicks. He showed up with some Jordan 4’s, the Levi collab. They had those customized to be in Gator colors. Everywhere he went, he’s throwing his foot up on the desk to show the tv cameras.

I think it started back in 2015 when Kanye and Adidas first brought the Yeezys. He had, not the moon rocks. What? The sneaker guys are going to get mad at me. He had the Yeezy 350’s that year. He wore the 750’s another year. It’s always a big thing for him. Obviously, the whole uniform reveal thing, which I’ll get into. That was a whole big deal. The whole Jordan brand is a big deal, so that was big for him.

This is a setting where he’s going to do well, I think at all times. He’s obviously a guy that I think, from my perspective, after a loss, having to deal with him right after a loss in a game is not going to be fun. He’s not going to be that charismatic guy. He’s going to be pissed off, and he’s not going to be easy to deal with. That’s part of our job. In a setting like this, he’s fantastic.

Andrew:                 I agree with that.

Nick:                         They were the turtledoves, 350 Turtledove. Sneaker guys, don’t yell at me.

Andrew:                 I don’t want to use this phrase, but I’m going to use it anyway. He’s almost like a politician, in that he knows what his audience wants to hear. He knows what affects the fanbase the most. That is offense. He knows that he needs to score points. He knows all that stuff. He knows he has to fix the quarterback play. He brings up very good points when he talks about quarterback play. I don’t think you can argue. Stats don’t like, and what he did with a guy like Alex Smith, what he did with Dak, what he did with Nick Fitzgerald, all speak volumes.

Listen, I say this, I guess, with a double-edged sword. I think most coaches in college could have won with Tim Tebow. Now, do I think some could have screwed it up? Sure. By putting him in a bad offense. I think, for the most part, most people could have won with Tim Tebow. I think a lot of people say, “You can’t take credit for Tim.” That’s fine. He can take credit for Dak. He can take credit for Nick Fitzgerald. He can take credit for Alex Smith. There’s a lot of guys that he can take credit for.

When you look at what Dak and Nick Fitzgerald were coming to Mississippi State, they were nobodies. Nobody wanted those guys. Heck, Dak was a guy that, had they signed Cord Sandburg, Dak probably doesn’t go to Mississippi State. Who knows where he ends up? Nick, some NFL guys are going to kill me here, but I believe Dak was in the finalist for Rookie of Year with the Cowboys? He might have won it.

Nick:                         He was Rookie of the Year.

Andrew:                 He was.

Nick:                         Maybe it was Elliott.

Andrew:                 It was one of the two. Anyway, who knows what happens to Dak? The point of the conversation is he knows how to develop the quarterbacks.

Nick:                         It was Dak. Dak did win.

Andrew:                 Okay. So, he developed a Rookie of the Year in Dak. Listen, winning at Mississippi State is much tougher, and something stuck out to me yesterday, on Tuesday, with Dan said, what Mullen said. That was, “There was a lot of games where we played,” and I’m using his words, “When Mississippi State would go in, and they weren’t the most talented team. They weren’t the biggest team, but they were the strongest and the toughest team.” A team like Mississippi State, that helped you win a lot of ballgames. Now, at Florida, he’s going to have the chance to be as talented or more talented than more teams. Now if he can continue to have the toughest and the strongest teams, look at what you’re going to have.

My whole point of this conversation that we’re having right here is I think Mullen has the blueprint. I think people do have to be a little bit more patient with him in recruiting, and it’s going to kind of be the opposite of a lot of coaches, I think. I think you’ll probably see a bigger improvement on the field this year than you will see in recruiting, and at the end of the day, that’s what pays the bills is winning on the field this year. I think recruiting will follow.

Nick:                         Yeah. Our buddy, Edgar Thompson, at the Atlanta Sentinel, had a chance to talk to Nick Fitzgerald today, and here’s some stuff that Nick Fitzgerald said. Nick Fitzgerald, what is he, a no-star?

Andrew:                 One-star. Yeah.

Nick:                         One-star. He said to Edgar today, “I wasn’t polished at anything except being able to run the ball. Mullen really kind of focused on breaking down my throwing motion, building it back up into something that was going to be a little bit better for me, more accurate. He kind of continued to do that through my whole career.” Then he said one of the biggest things is he helped him process information faster.

And that’s when we get into Mullen’s offense and bring in the RPOs. The RPOs, it’s almost undefendable, because it’s a run play, so even if you call the right defense, and you’ve got an extra man in the box, so they’re not hat on hat on offense, there’s no audible. It’s just a quarterback processing information, finding a one-on-one, and the players on the field knowing this is our play. They’ve got a guy in the box. I’m one-on-one. I’m running a quick slant, or I’m running a quick screen, and we’re all changing it.

That’s something that, especially for Feleipe Franks, we’ve questioned how he processes information. I think the comments from Nick Fitzgerald today should cause optimism for Gator fans when you have a guy who’s probably a dark horse Heisman contender this year talking about how he’s gotten to that point because of Dan Mullen.

Andrew:                 Let me interrupt you for a second and say this. I will say this. Listen, I can’t, and I won’t go back on my beliefs that I do still think Jim McElwain is pretty good on offense. I think he had a terrible offensive coordinator, and we won’t go back into the past, but I think the one thing that those guys weren’t able to do was adjust their offense around who their quarterback was going to be. That is something, if you go back and you look, and Mullen talked about this on Tuesday, he said, “I don’t exactly have a set offense. I have an offense that I like to run.” He said, “I have packages, and I have parts of the playbook that go in or go out, depending on who my quarterback is.”

He was talking about how they threw a lot of things at all the quarterbacks this spring, and he said, “Some of those packages will have to be yanked out, because of who the quarterback is. Some different things will have to be added, because of who the quarterback is.” I think that is the one thing, when you go back and look at Mullen the last 15 years, you will see how the offense has evolved and changed from Alex Smith to Tim Tebow to Chris Leek his first year to Nick Fitzgerald to Dak Prescott. Whoever it may be, you will see that the offense has changed and evolved, depending on who that quarterback is.

I think that that will change even with whether it’s Feleipe, Kyle, or Emory Jones. I think a lot of that will change there. The one thing I will say is I don’t think that Mullen will make Feleipe, Emory, or Kyle have to think much. I think whatever he puts in is going to be something they’re very smooth with, very in touch with, to not have to think.

Nick:                         That’s another thing that Mullen said he told his quarterbacks, “Don’t go back and watch what we did. That’s not what we’re going to do. That’s what we did because of what we had there. We don’t have that here, so that’s not what our offense is going to be. You’re not going to get much from that.”

Andrew:                 Also, let’s just be honest. At Mississippi State he didn’t have the running backs.

Nick:                         They don’t have the same kind of offensive, I would say skill positions. They don’t have the same kind of talent on skill positions.

Andrew:                 Right. I mean, you think about what he’s inheriting at the running back position. Let’s be honest, there’s some pretty good players at the receiver position, and we’ll see what he does at the tight end position, but he’s got some skill players there. Also, I think this is some of the things some people are forgetting, and that is with some of that RPO stuff you’re able to, not counteract the indifferences of the offensive line of being bad at times, but it does help the offensive line. Now the defense has to pause for that extra second. Instead of the center getting bull rushed by the defensive tackle from the moment he snaps the ball, maybe now it’s a split second later and gives that offensive lineman that split second to get in a better football stance. It all kind of goes together.

Again, I’m not trying to sell anyone on anything. I’m just saying these are the facts with Mullen when you go back, and you look at things. I think it will all better. I want to talk about defense in a second, Nick, but I want to get your final thoughts on the offense. That’s just my thoughts. I think he knows how to adjust to who his guys are, and, while he’s very confident, and I would say borderline, not cocky, but he knows he knows how to coach offense, he also is not too cocky or too confident to know he has to adjust.

Nick:                         Exactly. That’s part of the growing up process, I think, from when he was here nine years ago and a young up and coming coach, to having been the head guy for nine years at Mississippi State. I think that’s part of that maturation process. That’s all I would add to what you just said, because I agree.

Andrew:                 Let’s talk about defense. Nick, this is something you and I both talked about yesterday. I’m actually in the process of writing a story about this now, after you and I kind of brainstormed this. You and I, I would say we bitched every game, it seemed like, because the defense was not aggressive. It seemed like the defense was very, just conservative at times, I would say. That’s something that we talked about we hated. The quarterback was hardly ever pressured if it wasn’t from the four down linemen. The corners weren’t physical anymore. A lot of things.

We could go back and rehash all that, but that’s something that the defensive guys, David Reese and Cece Jefferson, talked a lot about in Atlanta on Tuesday. Being aggressive also allows the guys to play looser and faster. I went into it expecting those guys to maybe not say anything bad about the last staff, and I definitely didn’t go in wanting those guys to, but they were saying, we like this defense better. We like the aggressive defense better. Cece even said into the microphone, into my recorder, at the time, “Thank you, Todd Grantham, for coming to Florida.” The overwhelming positive vibe about this defense has been very good.

Nick:                         I think there’s always a concern when you’re moving, from a personnel standpoint, when you’re moving from a 4-3 to a 3-4, when you’re moving different schemes, but I think Florida’s got so much talent and so much depth on the edges. Somebody yesterday asked me, they were running a story about Cece Jefferson, they asked me, “What do I put down as position? Is he outside linebacker?” I was like, “Yeah. He’s also a defensive end. He’s also …” There’s so many ways. You look at Jachai Polite, the big guys in the middle, the Bam-Bam Brothers, Zack Carter, Antonneous Clayton, Elijah Conliffe, TJ Slayton.

Andrew:                 They mentioned Marlon Dunlap. Cece mentioned Marlon Dunlap.

Nick:                         Yeah. There’s just so much talent on that defensive line. I think that gets you over it. My only question on defense would be the linebackers in space, but I agree with you. I think there’s no concern, based on Florida’s personnel, moving from a 4-3 to a 3-4, and I think it’s even probably a better fit for Florida. Fans across the country know that Todd Grantham’s going to be aggressive.

Andrew:                 Here’s the thing for me, Nick. Again, listen, I’m going to go ahead and break some news on this podcast. The dreadful 3rd and 15 that gives up a play is going to happen, but also that strip sack, or that pressure the quarterback, he throws a pick six is going to happen. For me, and this goes back to the good old days of Florida defense with Geoff Collins, with Will Muschamp, with Urban, under Urban, and that is put pressure on the quarterback, force mistakes. I think that the reason Dan is so comfortable with Grantham is Dan knows he’s going to score points. Mullen knows he’s going to score points enough that if he does allow that one mistake in the game on 3rd and 14 that allows a big play or allows a touchdown he thinks they can overcome it, because he knows the benefits of that.

Also, you have two of the better corners in the country in Marco and CJ Henderson. I like my chances of those going one-on-one with 99% of the receivers out there. I’m not afraid to put those guys in one-on-one coverage.

Nick:                         Not at all. Not at all.

Andrew:                 Again, maybe that’s just me, but I like the defense. I like that pressure, physical aggressive defense.

Nick:                         I agree.

Andrew:                 What was your takeaway from Cece and those guys about the home defense?

Nick:                         First off, Cece stole the show. We’ve both been interviewing him since he was 16 years old. He’s charismatic. He’s funny. He’s respectful. He’s going to say what’s on his mind, and that’s lost on a lot of people. Cece was great. He was just soaking it all in. You could hear his laugh to questions, or to responses, from across the room. I think Cece, to me, was almost like a proud father when he was talking about the younger guys. Obviously, he hasn’t been able to do everything with them, because he’s been coming back from the shoulder surgery. Still not cleared for the first day. He says that’s his goal though. He’s hopeful. Really, I think he kind of has a seat from the sidelines. To me, he sounded like a proud father almost, talking about these young guys and how they’ve attacked everything and how it’s changed.

If you think about Cece, he committed to Will Muschamp, stuck through the commitment even after the coaching change. He’s really on his third coaching staff now. He’s an old head in that locker room. I think he’s just kind of enjoying to see how everyone is kind of embracing the change.

Andrew:                 Yeah. You know who he reminded me of, Nick? You and I haven’t even talked about this. He reminded me of Jon Jon Bullard, the way he approached Media Days a few years ago.

Nick:                         Yeah.

Andrew:                 He was very mature. He said the quote, and you may have this in front of you. I don’t. I’m paraphrasing what he said. Someone called him an ambassador for SEC Media Days, and he’s like, wow, you guys made me feel special. That’s what Cece Jefferson thinks. He doesn’t believe he’s better than anybody else. He doesn’t believe he is the face of the team, face of the defense, even though he probably is. He doesn’t believe he’s better than anybody out there, you or I or anything else. Cece just goes out and does his job. One of the things too that Cece made me appreciate him more, I’ve always appreciated the way Cece went about things, but he kind of blamed the Missouri loss on himself. I will say that that was one of Cece’s worse games that he’s had, but he took responsibility for it. I’m with you. He kind of seemed like a proud father, very mature approach.

I’ll also say this about Martez, and that was Martez had a different mindset. That was not the Martez Ivey that we spoke to last year or the year before last. Nick, you can correct me if I’m wrong. You speak to Martez so much more than I do. That wasn’t the same Martez that I’m used to speaking to. That was a very, very much more mature approach from Martez.

Nick:                         I felt like Martez, coming into last year, I felt like Martez had this kind of air about him of this is my last year. I’m just going to go through these motions, and I’m going to be out of here. And that’s natural. I felt like Vernon Hargreaves was kind of the same when he went into his junior year. Everyone was talking about Martez being a potential first-round draft pick. That was what NFL guys were saying. To me, I think he was kind of humbled, and Cece and Martez both spoke to that yesterday, humbled by how that season went, and I think that’s the change that you really saw in Martez. It’s something I noticed as well yesterday.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Listen, I don’t bash Martez for that mindset. Anybody that comes out of high school …

Nick:                         That wasn’t my intent by saying that.

Andrew:                 No. I didn’t take it that way. I’m just making sure that no one takes that the wrong way. I’m by no means bashing Martez for that, but I would agree with you. Listen, I also will say this, they have the mentality of Dan Mullen, and that is don’t take things for granted.

That brings me to my next point that I wanted to get on. I don’t know why this is such a touchy subject for me, Nick. I’m sure you’re tired of hearing me say thing, but yesterday after the microphones were turned off, and we were getting ready to leave to head down to the main room to listen to Mullen, got a chance to talk to Cece for a second without the microphone in his face. Just chatted back and forth with him. I made the comment to him that I was glad to see that the guys on the team were not working against the fans anymore.

When I asked Cece that I kind of expected, and I shouldn’t have, because I knew who I was talking to, Cece, but I kind of expected him to maybe backfire a little bit and say the fans shouldn’t act like this or that. But he said, “You know what, this is a team effort. The fans, the former players, and us,” talking about them, the players, “are all a team. We have to work together to win.” To me, that was just such a different approach to what we saw last year that I instantly went from having doubts to saying, this is so much better.

Someone on the message board said, “Fans shouldn’t get a pass either.” No, they shouldn’t, but two wrongs don’t make a right. At the end of the day, fans are, what you say, short for fanatics. That’s the short word for it. Fans are going to say what they want to say. Players, coaches, just have to ignore it. At the end of the day, there’s a small percentage of the fans that were against the team anyway. There’s no sense of that us against you kind of mentality.

Nick:                         I agree with that. Honestly, in that kind of smaller setting, when there’s not bright lights and everything, you’re going to get maybe some more honest answers. That was a big thing for me, that whole us against the world mentality. I thought it was toxic. I thought it was toxic for not just the team, but for the fanbase as well. Dan Mullen really embraces that Gator Nation, and, obviously, the guy sitting in Section 36 isn’t going to get you a 1st down, but he’s a part of it, whether he went there, or he’s a fan, or he’s a booster or a student. He’s a part of it. Unfortunately, there’s some nastiness on social media. I would just, if I was a football player now or someone in the public eye now, after a bad day at the office I’d probably just avoid social media.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Here’s the thing. I’m not saying it’s right. I’m not siding with the fans who told Chauncy Gardner how bad of a tackler he was, who told Feleipe Franks how bad of a player he was. I’m not siding with those guys whatsoever, but at the same time, that’s what fans are. They cheer when their team is good, and they complain when their team loses. It’s just what fans are. To have you go completely against the fans, and then ask the fans to show up in you stadium and support you, just doesn’t work.

It definitely was from the top down, starting from Mac all the way down, that had that bunker mentality. It started with Muschamp, where it was we’re a team, everybody outside of this office and this complex is against us. That’s dumb. I’m sorry. That’s just dumb. Someone said, Gator Nation is a nation together, and that’s true. All fanbases are the same way, but very select few teams have that mentality of going at their fans.

So, I guess, last thoughts before we get out of here, just on yesterday in general, and then we’ll talk a little bit about what we thought about Atlanta. Overall, what did you think? Any final thoughts?

Nick:                         How much time do we have?

Andrew:                 For real. Final thoughts, real quick though, what did you think of the three guys? Did they bring the right three guys? That kind of stuff.

Nick:                         I thought they brought the right three guys. I know it’s a big topic now, I wanted to just talk about the uniform reveal and stuff like that.

Andrew:                 Let’s do that. Before we do that, let’s first talk about the change from Hoover to Atlanta. Personally, I know some people had talked about it was in the middle of Alabama country, now it’s in the middle of Georgia country. For me, Nick, it didn’t matter. It was one or the other. I did think it was a little bit looser atmosphere in Atlanta than it is in Hoover. Maybe because it was a little more spacious. That’s just my opinion. First of all, any time I’m going to Atlanta is a great time for me. Get to catch my Braves. So, I’m cool with Atlanta every year, but I did think it was a little bit more laid back.

Nick:                         They’re going back to Hoover next year, aren’t they?

Andrew:                 Yeah. For one year, and then we’ll see what happens afterwards.

Nick:                         I spend a lot of time in Hoover. Between SEC Media Days and SEC Baseball Tournament, I spend a lot of time in Hoover, so I loved it. Loved being there.

Andrew:                 Let’s talk about this Jump man thing. First of all, what a cool little pin the coach had on his chest.

Nick:                         Like a politician.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I mean, could he not give us one? We attended it. Come on, Dan, be friends.

Nick:                         What I think, first off, commend most of the fans. Florida was building this up, and every day there were three, four tweets, and everybody was retweeting those. Constantly, throughout the day in your timeline you’re getting these tweets. I got a little bit of insight into why. Florida was doing it in Atlanta to coincide with them being there. They had to rent the space. They had to basically pay for everything that you saw. If you were there yesterday or saw pictures and stuff, they had to pay for everything there. Video boards, turf that they laid down, because you were basically just in this gigantic cavernous convention center.

It was a big deal, and they didn’t want to have just the 30 people who were covering the team out there sitting there. They wanted fans to be there. They catered food, and there were drinks, beer, wine, liquor. There was things there for the fans, and they were building it up, because they wanted it to be an event. I think that went well. Brian Poole was there, and Pat Young was there. They had former guys there as well.

I think the biggest thing, I commend Gator fans for not complaining, for the most part, that there wasn’t a huge overhaul on the jerseys. We told you there wasn’t going to be. Will there be a black jersey, or an alternate jersey this season or down the line? Yeah. Dan Mullen is all about that, because the players like it, and recruits like it. That’s the thing to me.

The biggest thing to me would be all they did was change the logo on the jersey. The team, the players only wear those jerseys on Saturday. What really affects them are the gear, the sneakers, the shirts, the shorts, the trainers, the sweatshirts, the polos, the stuff that they get to keep, the stuff that they’re going to wearing day in and day out.

Then when you look at every single Jordan that’s been released, every retro Jordan that’s ever been released is now coming in a Gator colorway, and those aren’t being sold. You want those orange and blue 11’s, you want the retro 1’s in orange and blue, they’re only going to Florida players. I already saw one of the coaches go, “You want these?” and tweeted a picture of one of the old Jordans, “The only way to get them is to come to Florida.”

That’s the recruiting pitch, not having a basketball player. Someone was yelling at me yesterday, because there’s a basketball player on a football jersey, and it looks silly. When it first happened, I thought it looked silly, and I think it does look silly to have a basketball player on a football jersey, but it’s about the brand of Jordan. The Jordan brand is so transcendent from kids who are six years old to people that are as old as Michael Jordan that remember when the first shoe came out. To me, that other stuff, the exclusive team stuff, that’s what makes the difference. We got to see a little bit of that yesterday.

Andrew:                 It’s a thing too where the kids love it, recruits and players. When you look at you’re the only SEC team now to have it, all those things go together. Listen, it’s cool, Nick. It’s swag for the guys. They’re going to make a butt-ton of money as soon as it hits the stores with that merchandise. They’re going to make so much money.

Nick:                         My phone was blowing up yesterday of people asking, where can I get these? Where can I get this? Where can I get that? I’m like, listen, none of the retros are for you. Those aren’t being sold. There’s two pairs of shoes that they’re going to be selling, and then all this Jordan gear that they’re going to be selling. The shoes will be coming out, I think either last week, next week, July or first week of August, they’ll be available. Yeah. It’s a lot of stuff. Jordan will make a lot of money. I know my friend spent hundreds of dollars when Michigan’s Jump Man gear came out. I expect Florida fans to make that same kind of contribution to get their Jump Man gear.

Andrew:                 Exactly. That’s what it’s all about. Good job on Florida’s part for making the event there, and on Mullen’s part for going over and interacting with the fans and doing all that. I think, at the end of the day, Nick, that’s one thing that I think is different with Mullen from Mac, and even Muschamp, and that is he doesn’t mind interacting with the fans.

Nick:                         He embraced it. He embraced it yesterday. He was walking around taking pictures and selfies.

Andrew:                 One of the things he said yesterday, and if you haven’t seen SEC Media Days on SEC Network or ESPN, at the College Football Hall of Fame they have this red carpet where the media and the players walked in, and the fans were on both sides of the rope. Mullen came in, and he was supposed to go to SEC Network first, before he went to the main room to talk to the media. Fans were asking him for autographs, and he signed a few.

They were whisking him away to talk to Finebaum and those guys. I overhead him tell a bunch of people, “I’ll be right back. I’ll sign for you guys. You know I’m going to take care of you. Don’t worry about it. I’ll sign for you guys.” He did. He came back, and he took photos. He signed autographs for every one of the fans that were asking. It just seemed very genuine that he said, “You know I’m going to take care of you guys.” Almost like a friend. Listen, I got you. Just give me a second. That personality, that persona, goes a long way in getting the fans back to the teamwork with the fans.

Nick:                         I agree.

Andrew:                 Overall, can’t say anything bad about what happened. It was a very good day. Mullen so far is taking care of us, and that’s all we care about, besides now putting a good product on the field. I think, Nick, you and I both are tired of watching bad offenses, and we’re ready to see some points being scored and some fun football games.

Nick:                         Yeah. I’m tapped out on bad offense.

Andrew:                 So tired of writing the same storyline, or talking about the same story of quarterback can’t throw the slant and that kind of stuff. That’ll end this podcast. Nick, you and I will be back. You’re going on a quick little vacation. We’ll be back next week. We’ll start talking Friday Night Lights, as it is one week from Friday is Friday Night Lights. We’ll get back. We’ll talk about that, get that previewed as it gets closer to that. After that, it’ll be time for fall camp. We’ll be back next week. We’ll talk about that. Send all your questions our way, and we’ll get to them. If you haven’t checked out Gator Country, Nick will tell you how to do that.

Nick, I think you’re on mute over there, buddy.

 

Nick:                         That’s me. www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is there in audio and transcript form. You can find it over on iTunes as well. Search @GatorCountry. Hit subscribe. Have it push that podcast to you every time it goes live. Never miss an episode. Do your social media thing. @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter. @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. You can follow me and him. @NickdelaTorreGC and @AndrewSpiveyGC.

Andrew:                 There you go. Quick little note, as we’re doing this podcast, Jen Rocha has left the Gators softball team to go to Oklahoma. The brains behind the good pitching staff is gone to Oklahoma. That’s where she’s from. That’s a big loss for the softball team.

Nick:                         Huge. She’s the pitching coach, right?

Andrew:                 Pitching coach. You all know how great this pitching staff has been at Florida. Huge. Be interesting to watch that. As Nick said, follow along. As always, go Braves and chomp, chomp.

Nick:                         You stay classy, Gator Country.

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Andrew Spivey
Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for Rivals.com, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.