Smith on Sports: Mullen gave MSU nine good seasons

Danny P. Smith
Staff Writer

it was a good nine seasons.

That's what Dan Mullen gave Mississippi State's football program as its head coach and he did just about everything he could do for the Bulldogs in that time.

Late on Sunday afternoon, the news broke that Mullen was becoming the next head coach at the University of Florida. The Gators were successful in doing what no other school was able to do over the last few years and that's get Mullen to leave Starkville.

I had a feeling on Saturday when Chip Kelly took the UCLA job that Florida was going to look Mullen's way next. The Gators didn't waste much time.

Mullen had success as an offensive coordinator under Urban Meyer in Gainesville and helped Florida to national prominence. The Gators were able to win national championships with Mullen as an assistant and now it's their hope there that those days will return with him in charge.

MSU never won a national title under Mullen, but it had the best season in school history with him at the helm in 2014.

The Bulldogs went from unranked that year to No. 1 in the country faster (five weeks) than any other team in college football history. After wins over LSU, Texas A&M and Auburn, MSU shot up the poll and it claimed the top spot in the first-ever College Football Playoff rankings.

Even though losses to Alabama and Ole Miss knocked MSU out of No. 1, it was able to reach the Orange Bowl. Another loss to Georgia Tech in Miami sent the Bulldogs to their final ranking of No. 11, which was the highest Associated Press poll finish for the program since 1940.

The Orange was just one of what will be eight NCAA bowl appearance for MSU under Mullen. The invitation for bowl No. 8 won't be known until invitations go out next Sunday.

Mullen may get the credit for another season in which the Bulldogs qualified for a bowl, but he will not be there for it. Greg Knox has already been selected by MSU administration as interim coach.

Little did anyone know that when Mullen was hugging the necks of his seniors prior to the Battle for the Golden Egg that he was planning to say goodbye as well.

Immediately after the game, Mullen said he was still happy to be in Starkville and that statement was probably true, but it's what he said after that that caused the red flag to go up for me.

Mullen said he still had to talk with MSU President Dr. Mark Keenum and Athletic Director John Cohen about his status in Starkville. He had never really went there before and I had a feeling right then that he was about to jump ship.

There will be some that will have some hard feelings toward Mullen for leaving the Bulldogs like he did and it is tough, but MSU fans should be thankful for the nine solid years he gave to the university.

Mullen only had one losing season with the Bulldogs and that was his first one.

That's going to be a tough act to follow.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.