University of Florida thankfully rejects Dan Mullen plea to pack Swamp after Texas A&M loss
Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey reportedly sent a strongly worded memo last week to conference coaches and track and field directors threatening fines and possible suspensions for those who fail to follow COVID-19 protocols.
Hopefully Florida Gators coach Dan Mullen will be the first to be severely fined and / or suspended for his incredibly irresponsible comments after losing 41-38 to Jimbo Fisher's # 21 Texas A&M Aggies on Saturday .
Commenting on the game's impact of the 24,709 viewers announced by Texas A&M, Mullen said the UF administration must lift restrictions on COVID-19 crowd, follow Governor Ron DeSantis reopening guidelines, and allow UF Pack the swamp for its next home game.
"The audience was certainly a factor in the game," said Mullen of the Texas A&M fans. "I know our governor has been so sure of getting this rule passed, hopefully the UF administration will decide to give us 100% against the swamp to let the LSU pack because that amount was certainly a factor in the game. I definitely hope that our government will follow the governor. The governor passed a rule that we can grab the swamp and have 90,000 in the swamp to give us the home advantage that Texas A&M had today. "
When I asked Mullen a follow-up question to clarify his earlier comments, he doubled his rash attitude.
"I definitely want to see 90,000 in the swamp," said Mullen. "I didn't see any vacant space in the section behind our bank (today). It was full; the entire student section; there must have been 50,000 people behind our bank who have gone crazy. Hopefully this creates a home advantage for us next week, because we passed a law in our state that allows us to do so. "
Fortunately, the UF administration doesn't seem to agree with Mullen's opinion. Scott Stricklin, Florida Gators' Director of Athletics, texted me Saturday, “We continue to follow UF Health and Campus guidelines. I haven't heard anything about the policy adjustments on campus. "
I understand Mullen was frustrated after UF lost again to the Gator Killer himself - Texas A & Ms Fisher, who has set an 8-1 record against Florida since its prime in the state of Florida. While TV commentators have stated that Texas A&M apparently had more than advertised attendance in the game, and fans were crammed into certain seating areas, anyone genuinely believes that UF # 4's first loss this season had something to do with it the amount?
The Gators didn't lose because of Texas A&M fans. They lost because of their own defense. Texas A&M fans aren't why the Gators gave way on Saturday for 543 yards. Texas A&M fans aren't why Aggie's QB Kellen Mond completed 25 of 35 passes for 335 yards and three TDs and converted 12 of 15 third-down conversions. Texas A&M fans aren't why Aggies running back Isaiah Spiller injured and gutted the Gators with two TDs for 174 yards on 27 carries. Texas A&M fans aren't why UF's defense gives up an average of 495 yards and 33.3 points in three games this season, allowing the opponent to convert 59% of third and 75% of fourth downs.
And Texas A&M fans certainly aren't the reason UF, who ran back Malik Davis, fiddled around late in the game when the Gators could easily have shut down and scored their own game-winning field goal.
Because of this, it is utterly inexplicable and inexcusable that Mullen chose the aftermath of this defensive collapse to insist that when making decisions, a college should lead decisions instead of politicians in place of public health and UF's own medical experts during a safety precaution deadly pandemic.
Sorry, the home advantage is not as important as the potential saving of lives. And when you pack 90,000 fans like sardines into a crowded soccer stadium screaming, screaming and spitting in the air, you have what it takes to be a COVID-19 super-spreader event.
Seriously, does Mullen want to turn Gator soccer games into a carefree COVID party on the White House lawn?
Let's just be grateful that those who run our sports leagues are taking this pandemic more seriously than some of our politicians. Mullen said Florida "passed law" allowing stadiums to operate at full capacity, which is not exactly. DeSantis announced the third phase of Florida reopening in mid-September, which will lift all restrictions on businesses in the state. Earlier this week, a DeSantis spokesperson announced that the state would do nothing to prevent Florida sports teams from filling their venues.
"Sports franchises can do what they want, they don't need state approval," governor's office secretary Cody McCloud told Miami radio host Andy Slater earlier this week.
Fortunately, all state sports teams seem to be ignoring our governor's advice. The Miami Dolphins said last week that despite the governor's stance this season, they will continue to allow a maximum of 13,000 socially distant fans into the 65,000-seat Hard Rock Stadium.
"We will continue to follow CDC guidelines and put everyone's safety first," said Tom Garfinkel, CEO of Dolphins, in a statement. "... At the moment, with (COVID-19) positivity rates, we have the feeling that we can protect people in a socially distant environment."
Are you listening Dan Mullen?
Sometimes we need to examine ourselves and make decisions based on what is morally right rather than what is legal.
(Mike Bianchi is a sports columnist for the Orlando Sentinel)
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