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SMITH COLUMN: MSU fans get gift as Mullen stays for now

December 24, 2010

Mississippi State football fans received an early Christmas present when two of college football's premier jobs were filled earlier this month and head coach Dan Mullen was still in Starkville.
For those people in the community who distributed signs in support of Mullen in front of his house in Belmont Estates, they got their wish and are having a happier holiday season.
When Randy Shannon was fired at the University of Miami and Urban Meyer stepped down at the University of Florida, Mullen was considered a strong candidate to fill both positions.
It would have been very easy for Mullen to leave the Gator Bowl after the Bulldogs take on the Michigan Wolverines on on Jan. 1, 2011 and turn south on either Interstate 75 or 95 to make Gainesville or Miami his destination.
The Gators and Hurricanes can certainly put together a pretty sweet deal to any coach they want and would be hard to turn down. It will probably never come out whether Mullen was officially offered either job.
Mullen maintained throughout the entire episode of Florida and Miami looking for coaches that he and his wife Megan were happy in Starkville and weren't looking to go anywhere.
For now, it seems that Mullen will continue his quest to build a consistent winner at MSU. It will be interesting to see how the Bulldogs can follow up this eight-win season and Jan. 1 bowl appearance.
If Mullen keeps having success in Starkville, there are going to be more opportunities for him to go to other places. This is something that MSU Athletic Director Scott Stricklin is going to continue to deal with in his young career.
Stricklin needs to lock up Mullen with a contract extension as soon as possible to ease the concerns of the fanbase a little bit more moving forward into 2011.
As far as the basketball court, the Bulldogs also get a shot in the arm before the start of Southeastern Conference play when point guard Dee Bost is available.
Bost has been sitting out a suspension for failing to take his name out of the NBA Draft in time and trying to work out some academic issues upon returning to school.
After observing how MSU has played in a few games without Bost this season, it can definitely use his help.
It's been no secret that the Bulldogs have struggled against teams like East Tennessee State, Virginia Tech and Washington State and could have used Bost's help.
Having Bost on the court may not have led to wins in any of those games for MSU, but it would probably been at least a little more competitive.
Prior to the holiday swing through the Bahamas and Hawaii for the Bulldogs, Bost was allowed to play in an exhibition game against Belhaven in Jackson and put on a show. He had 26 points and nine assists in 35 minutes.
Bost's presence will hopefully have a calming effect for MSU after the news that once again sophomore post player Renardo Sidney has been involved in a fight within the team. Sidney and Elgin Bailey were caught on ESPN throwing punches in the stands prior to the Hawaii-Utah game in Hawaii.
There's no way to tell how MSU will cope with that situation and MSU basketball coach Rick Stansbury has had his share of controversy over the last few months. He turned down Clemson for this?
The Bulldogs will be without Sidney again and Bailey as well when they finish out their Christmas competition in Hawaii today against the host school at 3:30 p.m. so after you open your gifts and eat a Christmas lunch, you can listen to a little MSU hoops on WFCA-FM 107.9. It won't be on television.
As you celebrate Christmas today and prepare to close out 2010 next week, it's the hope of the sports staff of the Starkville Daily News that you enjoy a special time with family and friends.

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.

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