Smith on Sports: Mullen still wants SEC title at State

Danny P. Smith
Staff Writer

Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen has experienced quite a bit of success since he has been in Starkville.
Mullen has helped the Bulldogs to seven-straight NCAA bowl games. He led them to No. 1 in the country for five weeks, an appearance in the Orange Bowl and finished with a 10-3 record during the 2014 season.
Even with all of those accomplishments, one thing is still missing.
The goal Mullen has had for the program from his first day at MSU was to win the Southeastern Conference Western Division and have the chance to play for the SEC championship. That has not happened yet.
The Bulldogs came close in 2014 when they were No. 1 in the nation, but loses to Alabama and Ole Miss at the end of the season kept them from doing that.
Mullen appears to be as driven as ever to get that accomplished and expressed at SEC Football Media Days on Tuesday that he wasn’t satisfied.
“There's obviously a lot more ahead of us," Mullen said. "We have not won the West yet. We have not won an SEC Championship. We have not won a National Championship yet. So there's an awful lot ahead on the table of goals that we want to achieve as a program, but I am proud through all of the work of our players."
Potentially, Mullen may have one of his better teams coming back at MSU for the 2017 season.
Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald is back for his second season after a very solid year and with the emergence of running back Aeris Williams, the Bulldogs have a chance to be very good on offense.
Defensively, there are some questions in spots and a new coordinator in Todd Grantham. It will be interesting to see how it develops on that side of the football for MSU.
The fact still is that the Bulldogs still have to deal with the very difficult SEC West. They have to play LSU, Auburn, Texas A&M, Alabama and Ole Miss within the division, then there’s Georgia and Kentucky, which are very tough opponents out of the East.
It’s not easy for MSU in any season to win the SEC West, but the league may be as balanced in 2017 as it has been for quite some time.
All that can be said at this point is the Bulldogs must buckle their chinstrap for another challenging season.
We’ll see in December if that means MSU earns a trip to Atlanta for an SEC title game or not.

Danny P. Smith is the 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 SDN or its staff.