With the way college football works in today’s society, the Fire Mullen campaign is beginning to reach a feverish pitch after two embarrassing… wins? Should we keep him or shouldn’t we keep him, that is the question. I’m still a believer in waiting until the end of the year before you make any decision, but if we do keep him, only for certain reasons. If you want another good read on this subject, head over to FWtCT and read what Metal Building Dawg wrote here.
If Mullen Stays, It Can’t Be For These Reasons
Who Else Will We Hire: I hate this reason more so than any other. We went through this when we debated whether or not to get rid of Stansbury. The jury is still out on how Rick Ray is going to pan out as a coach, but the reason to not make a change can never be we don’t know who we would hire. If you fully believe that the current coach is a detriment to the program, then you can’t just leave the guy in place because you don’t know who you could get to take his place. Yes, we have one of the smallest athletic budgets with one of the smallest fanbases in the SEC, but if you think there is not an up and coming coach or coordinator who would like to show his worth in the toughest conference in all of college football, you’re wrong. I’m not saying how good or bad they would be, but there will be coaches interested in taking over the program if we decide to let Mullen go.
Mullen has done pretty well in his five years: There is no debating this. You can look at his record and see that he is one of the most successful coaches in the school’s history. That doesn’t necessarily mean that we are improving as a program. Whether you want to admit it or not, Mississippi State does not have a winning football tradition. We haven’t won the conference since 1941, and we haven’t been to the SEC Championship Game since 1998. It’s not that difficult to be the winningest coach in school history here. Let’s just assume he loses every game from here on out, and you could make the argument that every team except for Kentucky is ahead of ours in the SEC as a program. Back in 2010, I would have only said that about 5 programs. If we lose the rest of our games, we will have been passed by a bunch of programs and that means we are going backwards.
A coaching change will hurt recruiting: And this is true. But if we want a good example of how hurting one recruiting class can be for the greater good, just go look at our rivals up in Oxford. When Ole Miss let Nutt go, the first class Freeze tried to piece together was awful. That is why he is relying so heavily on his heralded recruiting class from 2013 this year. And while it is possible that we would take a hit in recruiting, Mullen himself proved that a good coach can pick up the pieces where a previous coach left off. He kept most of the 2009 class together that Croom had started, so it isn’t a guarantee that the recruiting will slip.
Any new coach will use us as a stepping stone: So what’s your point? There are only a handful coaches who could get hired at a handful of schools that could be confident in saying that they will have a lengthy tenure there and retire at that school. Despite all the things Freeze says about Ole Miss being his dream job, he is either going to leave the school or get fired. That is just the way it works in college football now. We almost lost Mullen to Miami after 2010, now he may end up getting fired. This is life for college coaches.
The Only Reasons We Can Keep Mullen
If we decide to keep Mullen, it had better be for one of these three reasons.
He has earned a right to try and fix this: I will be honest, and say that I can be convinced to abandon this line of logic. I do believe there is something to be said for a coach who has helped turn the program in the right direction getting one year to try to correct the problems currently facing the program. If this is the route we go, he should only get one year to do so though.
We really want to hire Hudspeth, but we aren’t sure we can get him: This may seem like a contradiction to my first reason for firing Mullen, but bear with me. A lot of people are talking about firing Mullen to hire Mark Hudspeth. If we do get rid of Mullen, I think Hudspeth should be our first choice of candidates to replace Mullen. But if we fire him to specifically go after Hudspeth, there is no guarantee he will take the job. He may want to try to establish himself further and go after a bigger school. He may not want to work under the current administration. I don’t know if he would or wouldn’t come, but you can’t fire a coach to get a specific guy. It’s much like the situation Texas is in. If they let Mack Brown go, there is no guarantee that Saban will take the job. We can’t do the same thing with Mullen and Hudspeth.
We think he is the best coach for the job: In all honesty, this is probably the only reason that he needs to be kept. If Stricklin and the rest of the Mississippi State administration believe that Mullen gives our football program the best chance to win, then he should stay. I also have no idea what they are thinking, and I have no idea what they might decide, but if they have faith in him, then he needs to stay.
Where Do We Go From Here
There are still five games left in the season, and while I admit that I don’t know what Stricklin is thinking, I do believe that if we finish the year 4-8 or 5-7, he is going to have to at least consider making a coaching change. We are in the middle of a significant expansion to Davis Wade Stadium, and if he believes that the program is losing momentum and the fan base has lost confidence in Mullen, then the fans will stop buying tickets. It would look really silly to add the number of seats we are adding and then not be able to fill them. That is going to play as much a part in Stricklin’s decision as anything else. My hope is that we win every game from here on out and we have lots of momentum heading into next season, but things don’t always turn out the way we hope they will.