College football programs are known to inflate the attendance figures for their spring games to make them more impressive for recruits.
But it seems Florida Gators coach Dan Mullen might have taken the practice to an entirely new level.
Mullen told reporters in Gainesville, Florida, last week that he likes to use the attendance to poke fun at rival teams.
Mullen even suggested it might be 41,140; Florida beat rival Florida State 41-14 in 2018, which handed the Seminoles their first losing season since 1976.
“You kinda do stuff like that. Have some fun,” Mullen told reporters last week. “I don’t want to give away all my tricks. You guys keep asking. I’ve got tricks up my sleeve for the spring game. If I give them all away now, no one is going to be excited to find them out after. You gotta really search for them to see if you see little things.”
But when Florida announced the attendance for Saturday’s Orange & Blue Debut at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium as 39,476, none of the sportswriters could figure out its meaning.
“I’ll let you guys figure it out,” Mullen quipped. “You guys think about it and get back to me.”
Finally, a Florida fan on Reddit’s college football forum cracked the code Tuesday: Georgia, the Gators’ archrival, hasn’t won a national championship in 39 years, and the Bulldogs have played 476 games during that stretch.
Mullen and Georgia coach Kirby Smart couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.
It’s not the first time Mullen has cracked a joke at Georgia’s expense. After the Bulldogs won an SEC title in Smart’s second season in 2017 and reached the College Football Playoff National Championship, where they lost to Alabama 26-23 in overtime, Mullen questioned whether they’d really arrived.
“Listen, making it to one SEC championship game doesn’t make you a dominant program, you know what I’m saying?” Mullen said. “I mean, two out of the last three years, we’ve still been to the SEC championship game. So even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while.”
Don’t be surprised if Georgia announces the attendance for this Saturday’s G-Day spring game at 78,240. The Bulldogs have beaten the Gators by a combined score of 78-24 the past two seasons.