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Florida strikes, hires Dan Mullen away from Mississippi State

UPDATED: Sun., Nov. 26, 2017, 7:41 p.m.

Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen has left Starkville to coach the Florida Gators. (Rogelio V. Solis / Associated Press)
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen has left Starkville to coach the Florida Gators. (Rogelio V. Solis / Associated Press)
Associated Press

Florida has hired Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen as its next football coach, bringing back the guy who helped turned Tim Tebow into a star.

The Gators announced the deal Sunday evening, after Mullen told his team he was returning to Gainesville.

Spurned by Chip Kelly and seemingly unwilling to risk waiting for UCF’s Scott Frost to possibly do the same, Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin turned to Mullen. Stricklin and Mullen worked together in Starkville from 2009 to 2016. Stricklin was Mississippi State’s athletic director for seven of those years.

Mullen previously spent four years (2005-08) as Florida’s offensive coordinator and won two national championships while guiding Tebow to the top of the school record books.

Arizona State

fires Graham

Arizona State fired coach Todd Graham after six seasons with the Sun Devils that earned five bowl trips.

Graham was 46-31 overall and 31-23 in the Pac-12. The Sun Devils (7-5, 6-2 Pac-12) beat rival Arizona on Saturday to finish second in the Pac-12 South behind Southern California, but the program is not on the trajectory athletic director Ray Anderson wanted.

Anderson announced that Graham and his staff would stay on through the Sun Devils’ bowl game.

Graham, 52, has three seasons left on a contract that runs through the 2020 season and is owed $12 million.

Sumlin out

at Texas A&M

Texas A&M has fired coach Kevin Sumlin after six winning seasons.

The first black head coach in program history was 51-26 and never had a losing season. But his first year at A&M was his best, and he never could come close to matching it.

In 2012, Sumlin had a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback in Johnny Manziel and ushered in the program’s move from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference by going 11-2. That earned him a new contract and $5 million per year salary, but the Aggies have not won more than nine games since.

The Aggies ended their regular season on Saturday by losing to LSU. They dropped to 7-5 and finish 4-4 in the SEC for the fourth time under Sumlin.

The 53-year-old Sumlin had two years left on his contract.

Clemson takes

over top spot

Clemson is the new No. 1 in the Associated Press college football poll, taking a close vote with Oklahoma after the top two teams in the rankings lost in the same weekend for the first time since 2012.

The Tigers jumped from fourth to No. 1 after blowing out South Carolina on Saturday night. Clemson received 27 first-place votes and No. 2 Oklahoma had 24. No. 3 Wisconsin received 10 first-place votes.

Auburn rose to No. 4 after beating Alabama, which had been No. 1 since the preseason. The Crimson Tide slipped to fifth. Georgia moved up a spot to No. 6 and Miami fell five spots to No. 7. The Hurricanes lost for the first time this season on Friday at Pittsburgh.

UAB headed

to Bahamas

The UAB Blazers will cap their first season back on the field in the Bahamas. The Blazers announced that they will face Ohio in the Bahamas Bowl on Dec. 22.

UAB shut down the football program after the 2014 season in a cost-cutting move. The Birmingham school brought the program back after an outpouring of financial support from fans and the community.

Coach Bill Clark’s team responded by setting the program’s FBS record with eight victories. The Blazers defeated UTEP 28-7 Saturday to close the regular season.

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