Dan Mullen Defends Wanting 90K Florida Fans in Attendance Amid COVID-19
Category: News & PoliticsVia: john-russell • 2 weeks ago • 2 comments
By: Timothy Rapp (Bleacher Report)
Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTTwitter LogoFeatured ColumnistOctober 12, 2020 CommentsComment Bubble Icon Sam Craft/Associated Press
Florida Gators head coach Dan Mullen said after his team's 41-38 loss atTexas A&M on Saturday that he wanted to "see 90,000 [fans] in The Swamp" amid the COVID-19 pandemic for this week's matchup with LSU.
On Monday, reporters gave Mullen three separate chances to walk back those comments. He declined the opportunity, per the Associated Press (h/t ESPN).
One reporter asked him if he spoke to athletic director Scott Stricklin about his comments. Mullens said, "No, I've been worried about trying to beat LSU."
Another reporter asked him if he regretted the comments and whether he'd spoken to school president Kent Fuchs:
"Yeah, I've been preparing for LSU. But, I mean, I'll be honest. I think if you look at what we've been able to do, the safety precautions we have that our players have followed, our coaches follow, our staff follows, you know, I think we're a model of safety of what we've been doing during this time period.
"So I'm really proud of how we've handled everything and how safe we've been with everything we're doing and all the precautions we've had in place during this time."
Finally, a reporter asked if Mullen comprehended how having that many people closely packed together for several hours during a global pandemic could be a bad idea:
"I think Texas A&M, actually, they created a great atmosphere at the game, created an exciting atmosphere, you know? I thought they did a great job of doing that. ... I haven't talked to people because I've been really focused on trying to beat LSU.
Video Play ButtonVideos you might like
"But, you know, whatever our government officials all say and what everybody does for the game, what we do need to do is however many people they allow into the stadium, we need to try to work as hard as we can—all the Gator fans and all of us—to create the best game-day atmosphere we can.''
In Mullen's original comments, he said "hopefully, the UF administration decides to let us pack The Swamp against LSU—100 percent—because that crowd was certainly a factor in the game."
"Absolutely want to see 90,000 in The Swamp. I don't think the section behind our bench, I didn't see an empty seat. It was packed. The student section, there must have been 50,000 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. We want our students out there cheering us on to give us that home-field advantage.''
In Florida, state laws would allow for stadiums to be at full capacity. But Fuchs quickly shot down any chance of that happening in the foreseeable future:
W. Kent Fuchs @PresidentFuchs UF remains fully and firmly committed to following CDC guidelines ( https://t.co/xWvCfZxucp) for every part of our campus from classrooms to athletic venues as well as the guidance ( https://t.co/NdKCumo9VZ) of our own experts at @UFHealth and local and state health officials.
W. Kent Fuchs @PresidentFuchs these preventative measures remain the most effective ways to slow the spread of COVID-19. It is important that all members of the UF community and our campus visitors follow this guidance.
At a time when multiple NFL and college football games are being postponed because of outbreaks within organizations and teams, Mullen's comments were surprising, to say the least. And Florida saw 5,600 new cases of the coronavirus over the weekend, per Chris Persaud of the Palm Beach Post , bringing its total to 734,494 cases and 15,552 deaths.