Dan Mullen is 3-0 vs. Ole Miss. Perhaps his biggest accomplishment at Mississippi State is achieving his goal of owning the state of Mississippi. For a faction of State fans, that is all he will ever need to do, for others it is a step towards becoming a contender in the SEC West.
The acronym TSUN came from Mullen’s refusal to say ‘Ole Miss’ or the University of Mississippi by simply calling them “the school up north” from day one. And after a 45-0 beat-down at the hands of Ole Miss in 2008, there was a long way to go for State to regain its footing. But Mullen came up with a huge coup when he beat the #20 Rebels 41-27 in 2009. Two years later, MSU has its best Egg Bowl winning streak in 70 years.
It’s more than victories on the field though. Mullen has verbally abused Ole Miss almost as much as his teams have on the gridiron. His actions are reminiscent of the Steve Spurrier’s days at Florida. Spurrier used to say “you can’t spell Citrus without UT” (in reference to Tennessee always finishing 2nd in the SEC, and going to the Citrus Bowl) and called FSU “free shoes university”.
Immediately after the 2009 Egg Bowl Mullen said “there’s only one team on the rise in Mississippi”. His 2010 Egg Bowl post game speech included, “we’re never going to lose to this team again!”, and a couple weeks later MSU put up the
now infamous ‘Welcome to Our State’ billboards. In 2011, once he secured the Golden Egg Dan said, “players in Mississippi know where to come to win championships”. When it was speculated he was the top candidate for the Penn State head coaching position, he accused Ole Miss of starting the rumor.
Dan Mullen has gotten in Ole Miss’ head. He is dancing around on their frontal lobes and prodding the backs of their eyes. Plenty of Ole Miss fans believe they are a vastly superior breed, and even acknowledging MSU as their main rival would require them to stoop down to a level that is beneath them (they’ve even started a double entendre acronym for State – TSBU). But lose three in a row and now they can’t deny the importance of the rivalry, and the effect Dan Mullen’s boldness has had on them.
Mississippi State is putting the Bears to shame on the field and on the recruiting trails in the Magnolia State. Scott Stricklin is rubbing their noses in it. Right now is about as good as it gets in a rivalry (although I won’t argue with a few more wins in a row). MSU isn’t just winning, they are wrapping them in maroon and white, stepping on their face with a hobnail boot and breaking their nose (to borrow from a couple of legendary SEC announcers).
Enter Hugh Freeze on December 5th. At his press conference he said winning the Egg Bowl isn’t big, “it’s paramount”. That is a huge change of pace from Houston Nutt’s absent minded attitude about the rivalry. After losing 14 straight SEC games, Freeze is aware that he will have to get some type of footing in a state where MSU is getting most of the elite recruits.
Then last Friday, a new billboard arrived in Oxford. Ole Miss is trying to maintain composure, but they are coming unglued. They hate Mullen with a passion for living. This rivalry is nearing DEFCON 1. In the immortal words of Kevin McCallister, “this is it, don’t get scared now”.
P.S. Despite their fans saying the billboards are dumb, and that Ole Miss is “above” the “childish” behavior MSU is exhibiting, they have created their own billboards. These popped up on Tuesday and undoubtedly, are in response to State..