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Death to the NCAA

Dan Mullen Was Embittered, And That Is Good Enough For Me

Dan Mullen, in happier times, covers his face with a visor.
Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty

A truly special lowlight cost the Florida Gators dearly in a 37-34 loss to LSU Saturday night. A get-me-over sentence I might normally write to introduce this in blog form looks more-or-less like this: Heisman candidate Kyle Trask and the sixth-ranked Florida Gators suffered a major blow to their playoff prospects Saturday night in an unlikely come-from-ahead upset loss to the defending champions from LSU. Everything in that sentence—which sucks, yes, but it’s Sunday and I have a video-game hangover—is true.

But look at how much of it is made just blindingly stupid by the circumstances of this season! What does it mean to be a “Heisman candidate” in a season where half or more of all teams have been wrecked by COVID-19 and many have played half or fewer of their normal number of games? What does it mean to be ranked sixth, when the season has become a farce and the team ranked fourth has played just five games, and is being shoehorned into title contention? Who gives a shit that a deeply sucky LSU team, with a record under .500, is technically the defending champs? For that matter, is there anything to make of LSU’s record in a season where schedules are being remade on the fly and whole damn teams are being laid low by a virus? No, there is not.

At a certain point, even acknowledging all the increasingly ridiculous crap that normally gives shape to a college football season feels like handing over a victory to the absolute chuds who’ve spent the last year demanding that we all pretend things are fine. It makes doing a sports-as-sports blog about any of this shit into the most dismal, humiliating exercise. I simply do not want to play along with the fiction that there is such a thing as a real Heisman race, or a real playoff push, or anything real whatsoever about this season! Fuck you!

The good news is, in at least this one instance, none of the crap that I am fretting pointlessly about including in my blog is required for context. The only context you need is that Team A was tied with Team B, and then Team A did something just incredibly stupid and self-sabotaging, and as a result Team B won. And, most importantly, the person in charge of Team A was Dan Mullen, a bitter, smooth-brained Neanderthal who has been on the wrong side of the argument over whether to play this college football season the entire damn time.

Team A—the Florida Gators, coached by Mullen—had just gotten a stop on third-and-10 with under two minutes left on the clock. The score was tied at 34; Team B—the LSU Tigers, plodding through a lost season amid the greater lost season—was shy of midfield and would need to punt. Except! Gators cornerback Marco Wilson, involved in the tackle, leapt to his feet with the shoe of LSU’s Kole Taylor in his hands. Did he hand it back to Taylor and line up for punt return duties? Did he drop it at Taylor’s feet and walk away? Did he hand it to a referee? He did not. Instead, Wilson fired the shoe 20 yards downfield, which you are not allowed to do.

The resulting unsportsmanlike conduct penalty extended LSU’s drive. The Tigers dinked their way to Florida’s 39-yard line, and with 23 seconds left in the game sophomore kicker Cade York nailed a 57-yard field goal. Florida made nothing of their last, desperate possession, and the game was decided. Chucking an opponent’s shoe is high on the list of dumb ways to lose a winnable game to a shitty underdog. Simply do not do it.

But we are not here to dump on an amateur defensive back. We are here for the dark delight of Dan Mullen bitterly confronting the nature of his undertaking in the chaos and mess of this harebrained college football season. Mullen was asked after the game whether he believes a two-loss SEC team deserves to be in the playoffs, given the overall condition of the sport. He could not resist taking a shot at the Big Ten and Ohio State, who laid bare last week just how made-up all of this shit always is:

Ho ho ho! Many thanks to Mullen for being enough of a buffoon that his resentments lend meaning and context to a lowlight that might otherwise require a performance of taking seriously the details and ramifications of this abomination of a season. While we’re here, thank you, dear reader, for enduring this inside look at The View From The Blog Chair, where sometimes something is for sure a blog, but making a blog of it without requiring a shower afterward takes a little bit of doing.