• Ainslie Lee

Jesus Peter, Please Don’t Pack The Swamp

Mullen says he wants a packed Swamp on Saturday. Is that a good idea? Photo Credit: Alex Shepherd

For my grandmother it was always, “Sugar Bear!” or “Jesus Peter!” 

For my grandfather, well, he’d say the real words before being scolded by my grandmother. 

Point is: People say crazy things when they’re frustrated or upset. It doesn’t matter who’s listening or how much trouble those words might get you in. 

Dan Mullen is people. Or at least he was after Florida’s dismal loss at Texas A&M on Saturday. 

“It was a great day of football, great atmosphere out there,” Mullen gushed of the nearly 25,000 fans in attendance at Kyle Field. “Crowd was certainly a factor in the game, I will certainly say that.” 

Even at quarter-capacity of the 102,000 seats at Kyle Field, it sounds like Mullen and the Gators felt the effects of the Aggies 12th man. (Or the effects of a defense more porous than a sponge, but I digress.)

Mullen was talking crazy talk. The crowd at College Station should have been the least of Mullen’s concerns. 

But the press conference got worse. 

“I know our governor passed that rule, so certainly, hopefully, the university administration decides to let us pack The Swamp for LSU next week," Mullen pled behind a mask.

“One hundred percent,” a Mike Bianchi of the "Orlando Sentinel" asked. 

"One hundred percent," responded Mullen, "because that crowd was a major factor in the game. So I certainly hope our university administration follows the governor."

Announced Wednesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis lifted capacity restrictions in sports stadiums. 

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium was included in the decision. 

However, UF’s athletic administration was quick to put any rumors to bed and set the record straight well before LSU made its visit to Gainesville. 

“We will continue to follow the guidance provided by our experts at UF Health as well as campus officials,” UAA spokesperson Skip Powers said to GatorBait in response to Wednesday’s announcement. 

And according to the Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi, UF athletic director Scott Stricklin assured him that the university hadn’t changed its stance on stadium capacities. 

The student section at Kyle Field was densely crowded. Photo Courtesy: SEC

Thank goodness. 

Dan Mullen has proven himself as a football coach. But a health or campus official, he is not. 

On Friday, Alachua County reported 79 new Covid-19 cases and two fatalities, bringing the county’s 14-day positivity rate to 4.6% and fatality numbers to 68. 

Since returning to campus on May 26, 113 UF student athletes have tested positive — 13 of which belonged to the football program. 

As a whole, the State of Florida is continuing to grapple with the virus. 

According to the health department’s Covid-19 dashboard, there were 3,700 new cases reported on Saturday, making for the largest single-day jump in a month. Friday’s positivity rate was a jarring 7.88%, which was over two percentage points higher than any other day in the last month. 

And like Mullen, I, too, am no health expert. 

Who’s to say these numbers have anything to do with college football? Perhaps they don’t. 

However, I do know that there haven’t been any gatherings of 90,000+ people in the state in months. But clearly that hasn’t stopped the virus from finding new hosts. 

I’ve been to The Swamp when it’s packed to the brim when the LSU Tigers are in town. 

There’s nothing like it. 

But the novel coronavirus? Yeah, there’s nothing like that, either. 

So to pay homage to my grandmother: Jesus Peter, Daniel! Have you lost your mind?

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