Dan Mullen: Helicopter travel is a necessity, 'but it does give you pause' after Kobe Bryant tragedy

Yahoo Sports
Florida beat Virginia in the Orange Bowl to end the 2019 season. (Photo by Douglas Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Florida beat Virginia in the Orange Bowl to end the 2019 season. (Photo by Douglas Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Florida coach Dan Mullen uses a helicopter to travel for recruiting and to go to and from events. And he admitted Wednesday at his National Signing Day news conference that the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash gave him at least a brief pause when it came to using helicopters going forward.

The former Los Angeles Lakers star, his daughter Gianna and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 while they were traveling in foggy conditions to Gianna’s basketball game.

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Mullen said that helicopter travel is a necessity for him because of the number of places he has to visit in a given day at times.

“I more or less do it out of necessity within looking at a schedule of getting it done,” Mullen said. “I think there’s a lot of people that just do it for flash. … Mine’s more out of necessity. I have to get to these six locations in one day, and that’s the only way you’re going to make that happen.”

Though Mullen did say that his wife and some staff members weren’t exactly thrilled with the mode of transportation. He also noted that his son remarked about the Bryant crash on Sunday when they traveled to the Super Bowl on a jet. It was the first time Mullen had flown in a plane with his son since the Bryant crash.

“We have a lot of coaches who aren’t big fans of it,” Mullen said of helicopter travel. “My wife’s not a big fan of it. So obviously when you see those tragedies — our whole staff, it was kind of everyone in shock when they saw that. We were in a staff meeting, someone came in and said it, and everyone was like, ‘That can’t be right.’ But it does give you pause.”

Florida’s 2020 recruiting class ended up No. 8 in Rivals’ rankings as the Gators got two five-star commits and 23 signees overall. And while Florida is No. 8 in the country, it’s also No. 6 in the SEC. Georgia, Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M and Tennessee all had classes in the top seven.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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