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Gators head coach Dan Mullen walks back ‘pack The Swamp’ comments

Florida Gators head coach Dan Mullen is backtracking on comments in which he expressed hope that fans would “pack The Swamp” for Saturday’s game against the LSU Tigers.

Mullen’s original remarks were presumably inspired by how Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis previously lifted COVID-19 restrictions across the state that limited the amount of people allowed at public gatherings.

In his remarks Wednesday, Mullen indicated that the university should follow guidelines set forth by local public health officials when determining how many fans should be allowed inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for Saturday’s huge matchup.

“Whatever our local health officials come out and say, ‘This is the number of people that we’re going to allow at the game right now,’ that I want to encourage those people to come in, bring the energy, bring the excitement in the stadium and help our team to win,” Mullen said, per ESPN.

Mullen’s decision to walk back his comments comes at an interesting time, as the Gators are in the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak. The football program shut down operations Tuesday as a result, and the latest reporting puts the number of people who have tested positive over the past several days at a total of 19 people.

While the status of Saturday’s game continues to remain unclear, Mullen said a final decision is expected to come Wednesday.

“As we get more numbers we’re getting a better idea of trying to trace the origins of it,” Mullen said of Wednesday morning’s test results. “We have not been able to do that.”

He added: “I would still not be surprised if one or two of them were random, and the randoms can throw you off within the [contact] tracing.”

LSU head coach Ed Orgeron, despite Mullen’s comments, indicated this week that he expects the game to be postponed at this point.

The notion of housing 90,000 fans in The Swamp on Saturday — if the game is actually played — is arguably absurd in light of this week’s events. As a result, Mullen felt compelled to apologize Wednesday for his earlier remarks.

“I certainly apologize if I offended people,” Mullen said.