GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Greg Knox is stepping in as an interim head football coach for Dan Mullen for the second time in five years.
He does so at a crucial time for the Gators, who host rival Florida State (5-6, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) in their regular-season finale. The winner of Saturday's "big, big game," as Knox called it, will become bowl eligible.
"We're playing at home, and we win at home," Knox told reporters Monday in his first news conference as interim coach. "That's the message."
Knox is a 27-year veteran of the Southeastern Conference and a winner in his only game as an interim coach. He led Mississippi State to a 31-27 victory in the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl against Louisville and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson.
"I did it at Mississippi State when he left to come here, and now I'm doing it again," Knox said.
Knox knows how to handle a staff. He knows how to handle players. He knows how to handle himself. Now Knox has the daunting task of pulling together Florida after a tumultuous few weeks that saw the Gators (5-6, 2-6 SEC) fire Mullen and two other top assistants.
"I'm going to go out there today (during practice) and be me," Knox said. "There may be a slight change here or there, but very almost unnoticeable."
Knox said he won't be changing quarterbacks or personnel. That means quarterback Emory Jones will remain the starter, but backup Anthony Richardson will have the opportunity to play for the first time since he was knocked out of the game against Georgia last month.
"If he's healthy and available, then we'll get him in the game," Knox said.
First-year quarterbacks coach Garrick McGee takes over as Florida's offensive play-caller, while quality control assistant Dean Kennedy was promoted to an on-the-field coaching role to help on offense.
Knox, who has been an SEC assistant since 1995, said he and his staff have been focused on communicating with Florida's recruits and that he hasn't thought much about his future beyond this weekend.
"I don't even think about it," Knox said. "I'm focused on this week. … I'm focused on getting these guys ready to win that game on Saturday."