We can all back away from the cliff.
There is no question that Collins getting an extension and raise was important, not only from a football perspective, but also in terms of the perception of the program. Mississippi State has struggled for years keeping quality assistant coaches on staff. Many times, they will leave our program to go elsewhere for the same or similar positions for much better pay. The defensive numbers for the year don’t jump out at you, so it is easy for people who don’t follow the program to question why Collins was so important.
What those people did not see is the week to week improvement that the squad made under the guidance of Collins. The fans saw this, and they wanted Scott Stricklin and the rest of the administration to step up and pay a coach a competitive salary. This is exactly what they did. Collins is not the highest paid Defensive Coordinator after this raise, but he is now making about what a defensive coordinator in the SEC should make.
This is also a signal to any prospective offensive coordinator that we may hire. I don’t imagine that we would pay as well for any OC, simply because Mullen is so involved with the offense, but it should at least make others more interested in the job. They know we will now pay a competitive salary, and it simply can’t hurt in our ability to find a quality football mind for that position.
Another interesting aspect to this is that it extends him for two years. Most assistant coaches only get one year contracts. The reason for this is because of head coach turnover. Tennessee had a real issue on their hands after they fired Derek Dooley because many of his assistants were on multi-year contracts. One of the hold ups to finding a new head coach was the fact that the administration wanted a coach who would take on the assistants who were still under contract without having to buyout the lame duck assistants. The fact that the university is willing to go multiple years for Collins is a pretty strong statement.
This last part is pure speculation. There are people (me included) who think Mississippi State could have a break through year. Dan Mullen’s name has cooled down as a potential head coach at other programs, but don’t be surprised if it heats up again if Mississippi State can pull off a 10 or 11 win season. I would guess that the money we offered to Collins was no better than what Florida State was offering. There are more playmakers on the defensive side of the ball for FSU than what we have. Florida State has put together a number of top notch recruiting classes, so why would Collins pass that up to stay here? I think he believes he might have an outside shot at being the head coach here should things break right for Mississippi State in 2014. He has the type of coaching pedigree that would make him a HC candidate, and if Mullen were to bolt after a really strong 2014 season, I don’t think Stricklin would be questioned for looking in house at a replacement. A lot of things would have to go exactly the way we hope for that to happen, but it isn’t as unlikely as you might think.
The Collins extension is a good sign for Mississippi State fans. Excitement is building toward a great 2014 season. This will only help increase the anticipation.