Mullen again addresses rumors about other jobs

MSU football coach Dan Mullen leads team onto field.
Staff Writer

It’s just another week in the life of Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen.

With Tennessee firing its head coach, Butch Jones, on Sunday, Mullen’s name was immediately thrown out by reporters and media outlets as a candidate to lead the Volunteers.

Such rumors have become commonplace with Mullen. Just a few weeks back, many considered – and some still do consider – Mullen to be a candidate to be the next head coach at Florida. Practically every year since Mullen came to Starkville prior to the 2009 season, there have been rumors Mullen was as good as gone.

Just as he’s done so many times before though, Mullen said Monday at his weekly press conference he’s just fine coaching the Bulldogs regardless of what others might say or write.

“I love the (job) I have,” Mullen said. “I think what you see is, what we’ve been able to build Mississippi State into. I think everybody has an opinion in the world of what I should and shouldn’t do. Most people that know me, and friends that have known me for a long time, know I like my own opinion. I’m not really interested in other people’s opinions all that much. I like my own opinion, and my wife’s. I listen to her too. You have no choice but to do that.”

Mullen has been linked to numerous openings through the years. Jobs at Oregon, Miami and others have opened and been filled in recent years with Mullen’s name reportedly in the mix during the hiring processes. Through it all, Mullen is still in Starkville, where he has lifted MSU to never-before-seen heights.  

It remains to be seen whether or not one of the current rumors will come to fruition and Mullen gets an opportunity and decides to leave the Bulldogs. For his part though, Mullen maintains he is incredibly happy right where he is at.

“When you look around, we’ve been able to build this (football) facility,” Mullen said. “I have an (athletic director) that’s been a coach. I have a president that hugely supports our football program. We’ve built a team that’s a top 25 program in my mind. We had an incredible atmosphere (last) Saturday night (for the Alabama game). I have a great job.”

Avoiding Bama hangover

There’s little doubt last Saturday’s 31-24 loss to Alabama was a heartbreaking defeat for Mississippi State.

MSU knocked at the door of upsetting the Crimson Tide, but couldn’t quite seal the deal as Alabama rallied and scored the game-winning touchdown with under a minute to play.

There’s little time for the Bulldogs to regroup though. This Saturday, MSU will be in Arkansas for an 11 a.m. game and State will have to prove it left the Alabama loss in the past.

“It’s a big deal to see what type of team we are,” Mullen said of Saturday’s upcoming game. “It’s a big challenge for our guys. If we think we’re a good football team, we have to find a way to be better this week than we were last week. That’s what really good teams do.

“We have the opportunity to still have a great season ahead of us and do a lot of really good things. We have three losses to teams in the top seven, so we want to finish this season strong and hopefully put ourselves as a top 10 or top 15 program in the country.”

Injury updates

Mississippi State wide receiver Gabe Myles will again be out for this Saturday’s game at Arkansas as he continues to recover from a foot injury, but the Bulldogs might get back another senior wideout who has missed action of late.

Donald Gray has missed MSU’s last two games with a groin injury, but Mullen indicated Monday Gray is questionable for this week with at least a chance to get on the field.

“I think (team trainers/doctors) are pretty optimistic he could be back this week,” Mullen said. “I wasn’t sure of that, but they are optimistic.”

Linebacker Dez Harris might also be back, but it’s uncertain. Harris left last Saturday’s Alabama game with a thigh bruise, but Mullen said whether Harris plays or not this week isn’t really centered on the thigh bruise.
“There are some other complications a little bit with it,” Mullen said. “It’s not the initial injury that is going to be the issue with him.”

One injured Bulldog who will almost certainly be back on the field is safety Brandon Bryant. He left last Saturday’s game and it was feared Bryant had suffered a concussion. It was determined he didn’t, but Mullen and the Bulldogs elected to keep Bryant out the rest of the game anyway.

“They said he was OK (Sunday) coming into the training room,” Mullen said. “He just hit the ground right at the wrong spot on the head and was kind of knocked out a little bit, but he came to. He wanted to go back in the game, but we didn’t let him. There was a discussion if it would’ve been close to clear him to going back in, but it wasn’t something we felt comfortable with.”