Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen, left, speaks to Starkville High School officials during a game last fall. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
A great community is important to Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen.
In his mind, the key to success locally is to make changes in a positive direction.
That was the message Mullen delivered in an address to the Starkville Rotary Club Monday at the Starkville Country Club.
Mullen has lived all over the country with stops in New England, upstate New York, the Midwest, Indiana and Ohio, out West in Utah, Florida and now Mississippi.
There is one thing that Mullen has come to understand during his time at all of those places.
"You different places and you get to experience so many different things," Mullen said. "You get to see many different cultures, personalties and how kids are. One thing that I've learned is you have to fit into your community. Every community is going to be a little bit different.
"When I go coach and I visit, most schools are from the local area. At Notre Dame, there may be one kid from all over the country, but the majority of the kids are from the local area. I would say the majority of our team is from a five-hour or 300-mile radius of Starkville, so those kids have grown up a certain way. You have to learn about your community and the people of that community. One of the things I can say I've learned being in Mississippi is that sense of community."
The Bulldogs have enjoyed success since Mullen has become the leader of the program. His record is 29-22 in four years and MSU has enjoyed three-straight bowl opportunities with two of those being Jan. 1 Gator Bowls.
There wasn't a great deal of winning going on for the Bulldogs prior to Mullen's arrival and there was one thing he knew had to happen before success could be gained on the field.
"Coming in here, I wanted to create a change," Mullen said. "You want to change in the positive. If you don't like where you are, you have to change."
Mullen told the Rotarians that you have to change in three areas â€“ the way you think, the way you act and the way you expect.
"That's what you must do to get the result that you want," Mullen said. "The people who take an 'I can' attitude can accomplish anything. It's not easy. It takes hard work, sacrifice and commitment.
"You've got to know what you are looking for. If you want something, you've go do something about it. That's what it takes to be successful.
To want something you don't have, you have to change."
That's the way Mullen said he will attack spring practice when it begins in the next few weeks and the future at Mississippi State.
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