Florida coach Dan Mullen has hit a rough stretch, to the extent his job could be in jeopardy. (AP file)
AP file

Around the SEC: Florida Gators in hot water, Auburn collapses and loses quarterback

ATHENS — Coaches like to say that “A win is a win,” but that might not be the case for Florida coach Dan Mullen with his program under increased scrutiny.

The Gators (5-5, 2-5 SEC) beat FCS Samford 70-52, but not before trailing 42-35 at the halfway mark at “The Swamp” in Gainesville last Saturday.

It was Florida’s first game without embattled defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who along with veteran offensive line coach John Hevesy was fired last week in a move that smacked of scapegoating.

Head coaches under fire have long been known to change coordinators at the end of a season, but in today’s 24-7 world of social media mobs and cancel culture, the timetable for change moves at warp speed.

The Gators’ shaky showing has led to speculation that Mullen, himself, might not be safe to keep his job despite his close relationship with Florida AD Scott Stricklin.

The optics for Mullen and the Gators are not good, fans not receptive to leaked locker room footage of Mullen dancing and celebrating the win with his players.

To be fair, the Florida players signed on to play with those coaches who were fired. There may have been some backlash, intended or not, as far as the players’ focus and efforts.

The Gators finish the regular season at Missouri on Saturday, and at home against Florida State.

Mississippi State 43, Auburn 34: Speaking of meltdowns, the Tigers held a 28-3 lead at home over the Maroon Bulldogs (6-4, 4-3 SEC) before Coach Mike Leach’s team came roaring back.

Quarterback Will Rogers continues to put up video game numbers, 44-of-55 passing for 415 yards with 6 touchdowns and no interceptions.

Bo Nix was 27-of-41 passing for 377 yards and 2 touchdowns, but the ankle injury he sustained in the loss will require season-ending surgery. It was the biggest blown lead in a loss for Auburn (6-4, 3-3).

Arkansas 16, LSU 13: Coach Sam Pittman continues to make a case for SEC Coach of the Year, as the Razorbacks (7-3, 3-3) traveled to Death Valley and snapped what had been a 5-game losing streak to LSU (4-6, 2-6). It’s the first 6-loss season for the Bayou Bengals since 1999.

Georgia 41, Tennessee 17: Speaking of Coach of the Year candidates, Kirby Smart has led the Bulldogs (10-0, 8-0) to their first unbeaten SEC season since 1982. Georgia’s dominant defense spotted the Vols (5-5, 3-4) a 10-7 first-quarter lead before the offense scored 34 unanswered points for the win.

Ole Miss 29, Texas A&M 19: The Rebels handled the spotlight and the Aggies’ (7-3, 4-3) defense with College GameDay in town. Ole Miss (8-2, 4-2), suddenly, looks like maybe the third-best team in the SEC? The Aggies are struggling to score points, managing just one touchdown against a Rebels defense that ranks 12th in the SEC and 100th in the nation.

Alabama 50, New Mexico State 3: The Crimson Tide (9-1, 5-1) trailed?! Yes, but Nick Saban didn’t seem too worried, as Alabama scored the next 59 points and rolled up 587 yards in this “get right” game against the 1-9 Aggies.

Missouri 31, South Carolina 28: The Tigers (5-5, 2-4) have an All-SEC back on their hands in Tyler Badie, a 5-foot-8, 194-pounder who had 209 yards and a TD on 34 carries against the Gamecocks (5-5, 2-5). “He’s tough as nails,” Eli Drinkwitz said. “If there’s a better running back in our conference, I’d like to see him.”

Kentucky 34, Vanderbilt 17: The Wildcats (7-3, 5-3) held a 31-3 halftime lead in Nashville en route to snapping the three-game losing streak that derailed their season. The Commodores (2-8, 0-6) have lost 19 straight SEC games, and it likely would have been 20 if Vanderbilt didn’t back out of playing Georgia twice last season, including the Bulldogs’ Senior Day.

SEC Power Poll

1. Georgia

2. Alabama

3. Ole Miss

4. Mississippi State

5. Tennessee

6. Arkansas

7. Texas A&M

8. Auburn

9. Kentucky

10. LSU

11. Florida

12. Missouri

13. South Carolina

14. Vanderbilt

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