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Mississippi State's Dan Mullen becomes new coach at Florida

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Mullen fits what Gators are looking for (0:46)

Chris Low explains why the Florida Gators made their decision to hire Dan Mullen as their new head coach. (0:46)

After nine seasons at Mississippi State, Dan Mullen is heading to Florida to be its next football coach.

Mullen's 69-46 record for the Bulldogs makes him the second-winningest coach in school history, behind only Jackie Sherrill. The Bulldogs are 8-4 (4-4 SEC) this season.

"Megan and I are very excited to get back to Gainesville and the University of Florida," Mullen said of he and his wife in a statement. "I have such great memories of the championships we won during our time here and have a love for Florida. We are happy to be coming back to such a supportive administration, staff, student body and fan base, which is the premier football program in the country.

"We will give relentless effort in everything that we do on and off the field. Our commitment will match the passion that the Gator Nation has for this program."

Mullen, 45, was a part of two national championship teams at Florida in 2006 and 2008 as Urban Meyer's offensive coordinator. Along with coaching quarterback Tim Tebow at Florida, Mullen also coached Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith at Utah and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott at Mississippi State. Mullen also worked with current Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin when the AD was leading the athletic department in Starkville, Mississippi.

"I strongly believe Dan is the most prepared candidate to have immediate and long-term success at the University of Florida," Stricklin said in the statement. "Coach Mullen is one of the best offensive minds in all of college football, and has an unbelievable track record in tutoring successful quarterbacks (such as Alex Smith, Chris Leak, Tim Tebow, Dak Prescott and Nick Fitzgerald).

"Coach Mullen will do a tremendous job in developing accountability and toughness through a well-coordinated strength and conditioning program. Dan will work closely with the coaching staff, academic advising staff and administrative team to give every student athlete he coaches the opportunity to grow and excel at a high level athletically, academically and socially."

Mississippi State is set to play in its eighth straight bowl game, a streak that began in Mullen's second season at the school.

Mullen was also considered for the Tennessee job.

Florida had previously considered UCF's Scott Frost, who is considered a top target for the Nebraska head coaching job after leading the Knights to an 11-0 regular season. The Gators also targeted former Oregon coach Chip Kelly, whom UCLA hired on Saturday.

The Gators have been seeking a replacement for former coach Jim McElwain, whose teams won SEC East titles in 2015 and 2016. McElwain was fired on Oct. 29, the day after the Gators lost to Georgia 42-7 to drop their record to 3-4. He had a 22-12 record in two-plus seasons at Florida.

The Gators lost three of their last four games under interim coach Randy Shannon to finish 4-7, only their second losing season since 1979.

Mississippi State president Mark Keenum issued a statement wishing Mullen "nothing but the best in his future endeavors,"

"It's a tribute to Dan and to MSU that he has drawn the interest of several premier football programs around the country," he said. "Dan's tenure at MSU coincides with my own and we've had a chance to do some special things together for our loyal fans and friends."

ESPN's Mark Schlabach and The Associated Press contributed to this report.