I guess that's the point.
As it relates to the game, I don't think Tim Tebow gives a Dan about Mullen. I think, as always, Tebow wants to crush-kill-destroy. Tebow wants to win.
That's why, when he heard Mullen was leaving for Mississippi State, one of Tebow's first reactions was earnest concern for Mullen that the coach didn't realize he was setting himself up to lose to Florida 10 months later. Why would his mentor want to do that?
It doesn't matter that Tebow deeply cares for Mullen. He cares about winning more. He cares about his team more. He cares about Gator Nation more.
The same goes for Mullen: I think he would do anything short of having his players club Tebow in the head to win this game. (Heck, MSU gave LSU's defense a tougher time than Florida did.)
The Tebow-Mullen history is a sub-plot to the game, but ultimately one that matters exclusively off the field, rather than on it.
Mullen is not Tebow's mentor, not Tebow's friend. At least not tomorrow. Tomorrow, Mullen is simply "Coach of Mississippi State." And that coach must be beaten.
So is the relationship a distraction? To fans and media: Yes. Frankly, thinking about their history and dynamic is a nice way to pass the time this week until gameday.
But a distraction to Tebow and Mullen? No way.
(Be sure to read Pete Thamel's reporting on Dan Mullen's first year at Mississippi State. No one understands Meyer, Mullen and Tebow like Thamel.)