By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – There was a common theme among the three national championships at the University of Florida – explosive offense.
Former Heisman Trophy winner Steve Spurrier led his alma mater to its first title in 1996, setting dozens of scoring records with the Fun ’n’ Gun offense.
A decade later, it was Dan Mullen guiding the Gators offense to the 2006 and 2008 national championships with the newly innovative spread attack.
Although the two coaches used different offensive approaches, there are still plenty of concepts that overlap. As a young offensive mind cutting his teeth through the coaching ranks, Mullen admired what Spurrier was accomplishing in Gainesville.
“I remember I used to study it,” Mullen said. “In our current offense, there’s a little bit of stuff but not a whole lot. We’re more of a spread (team), but we use more of the offensive philosophies more than the actual specific schematics.
“He started to create matchups by spreading the field where the quarterback could see things, make good decisions and create one-on-one matchups.”
Although Spurrier is more known for his passing game, Mullen credits him for being able to adapt his offense to fit his personnel.
“He’s a very intelligent football coach,” Mullen said. “He’s real smart and he looks at where his advantages are and tries to take advantages in those areas. He does a great job of getting the ball to players and creating formations, sets and matchups that they like.”
After a brief stint in the NFL, Spurrier returned to college football in 2005 at South Carolina, where he is 72-39. Spurrier has led the Gamecocks to bowl games in seven of his eight seasons and is again bowl eligible this year at 6-2.
“Steve’s done a very good job developing their program,” Mullen said. “He’s built it up through the course of a bunch of years finally to the point where they’re competing for championships. They’ve built that foundation and now they’re a team that expects to compete for championships year in and year out.”