It’s clear Florida head coach Dan Mullen doesn’t care about public health.
After a 41-38 loss to Texas A&M on the road, Mullen said the Aggies’ 12th man played a factor in the Gators’ loss. Mullen even advocated for Florida’s home stadium, the Swamp, to be packed out entirely next week versus LSU.
“Absolutely want to see 90,000 in the Swamp,” Mullen said. “The entire student section must have been 50,000 people behind our bench going crazy. Hopefully, that creates a home-field advantage for us next week because now we passed a law in our state that we can do that.”
“I know our governor passed that rule, so certainly, hopefully the university administration decides to let us pack the Swamp against LSU,” Mullen said. “I certainly hope our university administration follows the governor. The governor has passed a rule that we’re allowed to pack the Swamp and have 90,000 in the Swamp to give us the home-field advantage Texas A&M had today.”
While social distancing guidelines seemed to be completely ignored at Texas A&M’s Kyle Field on Saturday, the school announced that only 24,709 people were in attendance — a number consistent with the 25 percent capacity mandate that Texas A&M has instilled because of COVID-19. Kyle Field usually seats over 102,000 fans.
Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin told ESPN: “We continue to follow UF Health and campus safety guidelines.” in response to Mullen’s comments on Saturday.
Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, a Republican, approved “phase 3” reopening plans for the state in late September, allowing for teams to pack stadiums at full capacity if they chose to do so.
“Sports franchises, like most businesses under phase 3, can do as they see medically and safety-wise in their best interests. There is no state clearance or anything of the sort.” his office said in a statement to NBC News.
The state of Florida has reported over 728,000 cases of coronavirus and the pandemic has accounted for over 15,000 fatalities in the state.
On Saturday, Florida health officials delayed the release of their updated coronavirus report because of a laboratory mix up. The report gives an accurate count of the new daily infections, percentage of positive tests, and deaths from COVID-19.
The University of Florida announced prior to the season that they would only allow Ben Hill Griffin Stadium to be filled to 20 percent capacity or about 17,000 fans. Florida’s attendance in their home opener against South Carolina totaled 15,120 people.
Mullen’s demands for a full stadium next Saturday are beyond tone-deaf. They are callous, self-centered, egotistical, and stupid.
It should be common sense that your “home field advantage” isn’t worth augmenting the risk of a deadly virus in your state just because you aren’t good enough as a coach to help your team win in a “hostile” environment.
The fact of the matter is that the crowd noise wouldn’t matter if you had a defensive scheme that didn’t give up 543 yards of total offense and allowed Texas A&M to convert 12 out of 15 3rd downs.
Mullen is just another one of these college football coaches whose tunnel vision on winning and boosting their pockets has made them completely disregard what should be the ultimate goal right now for this nation — surviving a pandemic.
Mullen’s request is foolish, and no one with sense should be listening to him. If the Gators want an advantage on Saturday versus LSU, all Mullen has to do is one thing.
Be a better coach.