AP: Dan Mullen named new Florida Gators head coach

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STARKVILLE, Miss. -- For the first time in almost ten years, there will be a new head coach leading the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Dan Mullen following Mississippi State's win over LSU -- September 16, 2017

The Associated Press reports that Florida has hired MSU Head Coach Dan Mullen as the 27th head coach of the Gators football program. Mullen was an offensive coordinator under former Gators coach Urban Meyer from 2005-2008, coaching Chris Leak, and Heisman-winner Tim Tebow. He ends his tenure as the Bulldogs head coach at 69-46.

Mullen was hired at Mississippi State in December of 2008, replacing Sylvester Croom. The Bulldogs have qualified for a bowl game in eight straight seasons under Mullen, winning five of them. Mississippi State reached #1 in the polls for the first time in school history in 2014, along with receiving an invite to the 2014 Orange Bowl against Georgia Tech. Mullen's 69 wins are the 2nd most in program history, behind Jackie Sherrill's 75.

He reunites with former Mississippi State Athletic Director Scott Stricklin, who currently leads the Department of Athletics at the University of Florida.

More on this story as it develops.

UPDATE (5:03PM):

Mississippi State University President Mark E. Kennum has released a Statement on the future of the Football Program:

“We’ve built a football program at Mississippi State that has enjoyed unprecedented success over the last nine seasons. Dan Mullen has been the catalyst of that success and we wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors. It’s a tribute to Dan and to MSU that he has drawn the interest of several premier football programs around the country. Dan’s tenure at MSU coincides with my own and we’ve had a chance to do some special things together for our loyal fans and friends.

“In anticipation of this development, MSU has already begun the process of an orderly and expeditious transition to new and exciting leadership for our football program. I have shared my vision with Athletics Director John Cohen and I am confident that John will move quickly and decisively to fill our coaching vacancy with the best possible person to build on the success of our program.”

UPDATE (5:15PM):

The University of Florida has issued a press released announcing Dan Mullen has been named the new head football coach of the Florida Gators.

"Megan and I are very excited to get back to Gainesville and the University of Florida," Head Coach Dan Mullen said. "I have such great memories of the championships we won during our time here and have a love for Florida. We are happy to be coming back to such a supportive administration, staff, student body and fan base, which is the premier football program in the country."

"I strongly believe Dan is the most prepared candidate to have immediate and long-term success at the University of Florida," Florida Athletic Director Scott Stricklin said. "Coach Mullen is one of the best offensive minds in all of college football, and has an unbelievable track record in tutoring successful quarterbacks (such as Alex Smith, Chris Leak, Tim Tebow, Dak Prescott and Nick Fitzgerald)."

"Coach Mullen will do a tremendous job in developing accountability and toughness through a well-coordinated strength and conditioning program. Dan will work closely with the coaching staff, academic advising staff and administrative team to give every student athlete he coaches the opportunity to grow and excel at a high level athletically, academically and socially."

"I'm pleased with the approach and process that Scott Stricklin and his staff had in place for this search that landed us the best candidate to move our football program forward nationally," UF President Dr. W. Kent Fuchs said. "Coach Mullen has a very successful track record at Florida and the SEC, which includes his ability to develop student-athletes on and off the field at the highest level."

UPDATE (5:20PM):

Mississippi State running backs coach and special teams coordinator Greg Knox has been named interim coach, and will coach the bowl game for MSU.

UPDATE (5:33PM):

Mississippi State Director of Athletics John Cohen released a statment on the Bulldogs head coaching position:

"Earlier today, Dan Mullen informed me that he accepted the job as the next head football coach at the University of Florida. In their nine years here, Dan and Megan have been wonderful ambassadors to Mississippi State University and the entire city of Starkville. From climbing to the No. 1 ranking in 2014 to a school-record eight straight bowl appearances, Dan has taken Mississippi State Football to unprecedented heights. With success comes the opportunity to be pursued by others. We were proactive in doing everything we could to try to keep him as our coach. On behalf of the entire Mississippi State Family, we wish Dan and Megan all the best."

"I informed the team this afternoon that running backs coach and special teams coordinator Greg Knox will serve as the interim head coach for our bowl game. Greg has coached in the Southeastern Conference for over 20 years. We are excited about playing in our school-record eighth consecutive bowl game against a quality opponent. Our senior class has a chance to tie the 2015 and 1942 teams as the winningest senior class in Mississippi State history."

"We have already begun a national search to identify our 33rd head football coach. Since 2014, Mississippi State Football has risen to national prominence. Our Bulldog Family is as passionate and loyal a fan base as there is in the nation. They have transformed Davis Wade Stadium into an intimidating venue among the loudest in college football. We have bright young men who proudly represent our program every day in the classroom, community and on the field. We return a tremendous roster of young talent. We seek someone who will continue us on our path to competing for championships and developing our student-athletes both on and off the field."

"As we turn the page to write a new chapter in Mississippi State Football, our momentum is stronger than ever. We are confident we will find an outstanding new leader to carry that momentum forward. Hail State."