Dan Mullen completely broke the mold of what was expected from Mississippi State football during his nine seasons coaching the Bulldogs. This was a program mired in mediocrity – at best – not possessing a seat at the proverbial “big boy” table of college football.
Not only did Mullen give them a seat, he took them to the top.
Mullen famously, and unprecedentedly, led the Bulldogs to a No. 1 ranking, saw ESPN’s “College Gameday” come to Starkville, and breathed life into a program rendered almost lifeless under athletic director Larry Templeton and head coach Sylvester Croom.
Mullen finished his tenure at MSU with a winning record over Mississippi in the Egg Bowl and led the Bulldogs to eight bowl games when the program had only seen 13 in its entire history.
Not only should Dan Mullen receive a nice ovation when he returns to Davis-Wade Stadium on Saturday, he should receive a standing one. Don’t hold your breath expecting that.
Now at the University of Florida, Mullen leads his Gators (3-1, 1-1 SEC) to Starkville fresh off a woodshed beating of Tennessee in Knoxville, 47-21. The Gators and Bulldogs (3-1, 0-1 SEC) face each other on ESPN at 6:00 ET in a crucial SEC matchup.
Oddly enough, MSU is looking at the game much differently than it did this preseason. Talk of a 10-win season could be put on the shelf if the Bulldogs fail to rebound from their loss at Kentucky and beat a Gator team that looks more dangerous now than it did two weeks ago. With games remaining against Auburn, LSU, Texas A&M and Alabama, this is a must win on Saturday to keep hopes for that special season alive.
As for the Mississippi State faithful, in time, I expect both Dan Mullen and his most decorated player – also the most decorated player in school history not coincidentally – Dak Prescott, will be remembered with statues outside the stadium. Well deserving, I might add.
No one in maroon will be looking to canonize Mullen this Saturday however. The past is the past and the future is the future and for Mississippi State, its only focus can be on the present.
(You can follow Brad Logan on Twitter @BradLoganCOTE)
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