Yes, Dan Mullen actually wants to have 90,000 fans present for their game against LSU on Saturday.
The Florida coach, after stunning people with his comments on Saturday, doubled down on Monday with his desire to pack Ben Hill Griffin Stadium completely full for the Gators’ game against LSU on Saturday despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic — which is still raging and getting worse nationwide.
Mullen really wants 90,000 fans on Saturday
Florida has allowed 20 percent fan capacity at its games so far this season. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently moved the state to Phase 3 of its reopening plan, which lifted restrictions at stadiums. Though that plan still includes social-distancing policies and asks people to avoid large crowds, Florida does not need approval from the state to let more than 20 percent capacity in.
Mullen, after a 41-38 upset loss at Texas A&M on Saturday, said he thought that fans at the game in College Station played a factor. That’s when he expressed his desire to fill Ben Hill Griffin Stadium completely.
On Monday, given plenty of chances to clarify his comments, Mullen both doubled down and insisted he’s only focused on the game itself. He hasn’t talked to his bosses or anyone else about his troubling comments, either.
“I’ve been worried about trying to beat LSU,” he said, via ESPN.
There have been more than 7.8 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Monday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and nearly 215,000 deaths attributed to it. The country is averaging nearly 50,000 cases a day over the last week, too — about 15,000 more than what it was recording a month ago.
Florida, once one of the worst spots in the country for the virus, recorded more than 18,000 new cases over the past week.
Mullen was asked specifically if he knew how dangerous it would be to pack nearly 100,000 people together in a stadium for hours amid the pandemic — make no mistake, that would be extremely dangerous — but didn’t answer the question.
“I haven’t talked to people because I’ve been really focused on trying to beat LSU,” he responded, via ESPN. “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 gameday atmosphere we can.”
Both athletic director Scott Stricklin and president Kent Fuchs have distanced themselves from Mullen’s comments in recent days. Stricklin said they aren’t thinking about increasing stadium capacity, and Fuchs took to Twitter to make sure fans know they will still follow CDC guidelines.
The school isn’t even holding in-person classes. Why Mullen thinks that letting fans pack into a crowded stadium — something that would undoubtedly lead to a spike in cases and likely deaths from the coronavirus — is a good idea is unknown. Maybe he’s just overlooking safety concerns completely, something that would be tremendously irresponsible.
Regardless, Mullen insists he’s proud of how they’ve handled the coronavirus so far.
“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,” Mullen said, via ESPN. “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.”
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