First-year Arkansas coach Chad Morris spent 15 years as a Texas high school head coach before he finally moved into college football as Tulsa’s offensive coordinator in 2010. His background means that he spent time as a teacher before his football career took off. He was asked how that experience shaped him during his time at the podium.

“I majored in math, minored in statistics, and being able to go in and teach math and impact lives is critical,” Morris said. “I do not believe there’s such a thing as a great coach and not a good teacher. I think as you look across our country and you look at the high school coaches that impact lives, we’re in a society right now that … needs so many male figures to impact lives, and high school coaches is where it’s at. And teachers are where it’s at.

“To know that our teachers out there – and for me to be able to say and stand in front of you and say that I’ve proudly been a teacher and proudly been a high school coach and proud to say my wife was a teacher for 16 years. And so teaching is what we do. We teach every day. We impact lives. We teach every single day. And that doesn’t change whether you’re in the classroom or out of the classroom.”

Championship Chomp

Only Nick Saban has more head coaching experience in the SEC than Dan Mullen, who arrives at Florida after nine years at Mississippi State. Mullen has seen highs at Florida, when the program won national championships while he was offensive coordinator in 2006 and 2008. He also saw the lows in 2013 and 2017, when Florida went 4-8 and 4-7, respectively.

“The last (five) years, Florida’s had two four-win seasons and played in two SEC Championship games,” Mullen said. “That inconsistency, that shows me that individual teams at the university right now are playing at a high level, but the program at itself is not performing consistently at the level it needs to be at.”

Mullen still hasn’t won a conference championship as a head coach, but said he hopes Florida has the pieces in place to make a run at one. He wants consistency, but also didn’t shy away from expectations. Mullen said the word “championship” 15 times at the podium.

“One of the things that having been in this conference for quite a long time that I’ve learned is the margin for error is very small,” he said. “The margin for error from having a bad season to an average season, an average season to a good season, a good season to a great season, a great season to a special season is very, very small.”

Reach Ben Jones at ben@tidesports.com or 205-722-0196.