Mississippi State gives Mullen monster extension

Mississippi State deserves a round of applause: They showed loyalty to a man who has shown absolutely no loyalty to them over the last few years….their head coach, Dan Mullen.

In the new deal, Mullen will receive $4.5 million per season for the next four years, starting this season.

Listen, we GET there are good things about Mullen. He started in 2009 and hasn’t left. During his tenure, his record has been nothing short of phenomenal – especially for a poor team, where he’s been bowl eligible for the last seven straight years and gone 5-2 in bowls. He has a 5-3 record in the Egg Bowl against Ole Miss, and took the Cowbellers to phenomenal heights in the 2014 season.

He’s proved to be a bit of a ‘quarterback whisperer’ at the highest level, with Dak Prescott and now Nick Fitzgerald doing great things. Prescott himself has gone on to drop jaws at NFL level, which can’t have done Mullen’s credibility any damage. And his response to press questions about Fitzgerald in the aftermath of the last Ole Miss win was hilarious.

But I’ve got a problem. Where there seems to be a big job on the loose,  Dan Mullen seems to have no loyalty to the Land of Cowbell in the least. He’s been continually rumored for other jobs since taking over in Starkville, and he actually interviewed for the Miami (FL) job in 2015 before it was given to Mark Richt. Florida (2013) and Oregon (2017) were also thoughts. And although Mullen’s said that he’s happy where he is, the hiring of Jimmy Sexton – who is also the agent of a certain Nick Saban, who hasn’t shown any loyalty of his own in the least to programs – in October – doesn’t seem to indicate that.

I just can’t help thinking that the cowbell will toll for Mississippi State in this relationship. Then again, I might be wrong.

Mississippi State 2015 Preview: Dak Attack!

Last season was a stunning one for Mississippi State. They went to No.1 in the polls. They beat LSU on the road for the first time in their history. They had their second 10-win season in their history. Their QB, Dak Prescott, was a Heisman contender. OK, so underestimating the Bulldogs was our mistake, Starkville.

OFF-SEASON

Dak Prescott had an awful Spring Break when he was blindsided by some douchebag in Panama Beach. He didn’t press assault charges, which is a shame. He should have done.

Coaching-wise, Dan Mullen lost defensive co-ordinator Geoff Collins to Florida, and replied by bringing in Manny Diaz as his DC, who did a terrible job at Texas where he was DC there. Seriously, the Texas players were awful tacklers under his regime.

IN DAK WE TRUST

Dak Prescott was exceptional for the Bulldogs in 2014, throwing for 3,449 yards and 27 TDs and only 11 INTs. He also ran the ball for a career-high 986 yards and 14 TDs….and even caught two receptions (one of them for a TD!). He’s going to provide the nucleus for this offense this year, which should hardly be surprising for anybody.

More pressure is going to be piled upon him because of the departure of RB Josh Robinson, especially with the under-experienced Ashton Shumpert. Aeris Williams and Dontavius Lee will provide the back-ups.

Prescott’s biggest target will be De’Runnya Wilson, who – despite his awesome name – is actually a WR. The 6-5, 215lb player caught for 680 yards and 9 TDs in 2015. He’ll be a difficult match-up for most secondaries….if he stays clean. He was arrested on drug charges in March, which wasn’t his brightest move. Fred Brown and Fred Ross will provide depth.

OFFENSIVE LINE? GULP

It has been noted that MSU has to replace  THREE offensive linesman from the successful corps that shone out last year. ESPN put it simply: “The heart of that line — Ben Beckwith, Blaine Clausell and Dillon Day — is gone.” A lot will be expected of Justin Senior and Justin Malone, as well as three other replacements.

With this, I’m not sure that Prescott’s going to repeat his banner year of 2015. Sorry.

DEFENSE!

In their SEC season preview, SaturdayEdge notes that MSU “had the worst pass defense in the SEC a year ago, and three starters are gone from the defensive backfield”. Kivon Coman and Deontay Evans at safety and Taveze Calhoun will come back to play, but I’m not thrilled about them.

Also, it’s sad to say goodbye to Bernardrick McKinney and Preston Smith, who did an excellent job for the Bulldogs. They’ll need to replace them. A lot will be required of Beniquez Brown, Chris Jones, A.J. Jefferson and Nelson Adams.

Otherwise, the addition of Diaz as defensive co-ordinator – who we didn’t like during his time at Texas and we don’t now – hardly spells out exciting times in Starkville.

THE SCHEDULE

Sep. 5 – at Southern Miss
Sep. 12 – Louisiana State
Sep. 19 – Northwestern State
Sep. 26 – at Auburn
Oct. 3 – at Texas A&M
Oct. 10 – Troy
Oct. 17 – Louisiana Tech
Oct. 24 – Kentucky
Nov. 5 – at Missouri
Nov. 14 – Alabama
Nov. 21 – at Arkansas
Nov. 28 – Ole Miss

It’s going to be an ugly season in Starkville. They’ll go 4-0 in their non-conference games against nobody, but against SEC opponents, we can see them win one game – at home to Kentucky – and losing the rest. Here’s why: Dak Prescott cannot do everything alone. His offensive line has been shredded, his running backs are experienced, and on the other side of the ball, his defense loses a huge amount of talent. This will be a rebuilding year.

OUR PREDICTION: 5-7. 

 

Dan Mullen, Mississippi State’s head coach, has said that keeping college football’s tradition is incredibly important in the face of the new play-off system coming in 2014.

He said: “The one thing I don’t want to see us lose is the tradition that is college football.  The great thing about the bowl system, we like talking different ways.  We want to talk education.  These guys are student-athletes.  This is not a professional sport.  They’re there to get an education.  But on the top end, there can only be one champion, we have to have this big extended playoff.  Where at the bowl system, we had a bunch of seniors leave winning a championship in their last football game last year.  What a great educational tool that is for them winning the Music City Bowl.  That’s their lasting memory of football.  The majority of them, that will be the last game they play.  I hope a lot of them get the opportunity to play professional football.  A lot, that will be their last opportunity.  The tradition that goes along with it, the excitement with the fan base, when you pull up to Nashville at the Music City Bowl, there’s 30,000 fans outside the stadium to meet the bus, what a neat experience that is for your players and fans. I hope we don’t lose any of the traditions and things that make college football special, you know, just because we want to form a playoff that right now there’s four teams.”

He added: “I’m sure there’s going to be discussions that whoever finished fifth is not going to be happy.”

One thing that Mullen said he worries about is the fact that student athletes are having to cope with rising academic standards, throwing out the age-old notion that players aren’t there to learn, they are there to play. Recently, NCAA team grade scores have been on the rise as the NCAA continues to threaten teams who score badly on their work that they will miss the post-season.

He said: “The biggest concern I’ve always seen in looking how it affects the big picture.  You look and say, Okay, recruiting, we have some guys that might have to academic redshirt.  That’s fine.  What it does, it takes numbers away, takes depth away. The one thing to me that’s disappointing is maybe give the guys an extra reward.  There might be a guy that is a great student, done everything the right way, that now because of depth concerns with other guys having academic redshirt, maybe you would have redshirted to give him a chance to develop and grow.  Now this young man has to go play on the field and essentially be punished for being great in school because now he only has four years with you.  He’s going to lose his opportunity to get a Masters because he had to play his first year. If you meet this standard, are above it, maybe you get five years of eligibility as a reward. You don’t have to make that tough decision if you’re going to redshirt those guys that qualified academically.  Everything was done more on a punishment basis, to punish the guys that didn’t do it, they’re going to have to academic redshirt and can’t play. I would have loved to see more of that approach taken and you reward guys for doing well instead of punishing guys that don’t do as well with their academic standards coming in from high school.”

 Quotes: RedandBlack.com