Dan Mullen Will Be Mentioned in the Coaching Carousel


Oct 3, 2015; College Station, TX, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen watches warm ups prior to a game against the Texas A&M Aggies at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Dan Mullen will be talked about as a potential candidate in a lot of job openings this offseason. It’s a good thing Mississippi State fans are accustomed to this sort of thing when it comes to Coach Mullen.

We are four games away from Mississippi State completing their seventh season under the leadership of Dan Mullen. And most years, Mullen’s name was mentioned to bolt from Starkville and head to greener pastures. And with there being so many job openings already and more to come, his name will be floated around just as much as it ever has been. But do Mississippi State fans have anything to worry about?

Not really.

So far, Dan Mullen has been listed as a possible replacement for the vacant coaching positions at just about every Power 5 job opening currently available. South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Miami, Maryland, and Southern Cal all will have openings that will need to be filled. But the Bulldogs coach isn’t leaving Mississippi State to go to just any job.

If Dan Mullen left Mississippi State, his cost of living is going to go up substantially. One of the nice things about the Mississippi State head coaching position is you can do a lot more with that really nice SEC coaching salary than you can at most other places in the SEC and in the country. So if he wanted to leave, it would have to be for a school that would be willing to pay him at least $5 million a year or more. This eliminates every Power 5 job currently opening this off season except Southern Cal. South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Miami, and Maryland aren’t paying Mullen that kind of money.

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Some would argue Miami would, but I don’t see it. The Hurricanes currently pay $2.5 million, and they would have to double what they pay to get Mullen, a candidate they weren’t enthralled with the last time they hired a coach.

The other possibilities out there are jobs that might have openings. Georgia, Tennessee, and Arkansas are being talked about as potential openings once the season is done. But people can forget about Arkansas firing Bielema. He may not be living up to his preseason expectations, but the Razorbacks aren’t firing him after this season, even if they don’t get bowl eligible. The same is true for Tennessee. Butch Jones has a chance to get Tennessee to 8-4. That won’t be far off where most people saw Tennessee finishing this season, and he’ll be back in Knoxville for 2016.

This leaves Southern Cal and the possibility of Georgia. Southern Cal is the only current job opening I could see Dan Mullen ever seriously entertaining the idea of leaving Mississippi State for. It’s easier to recruit to Southern Cal, and you would think it would be easier to win. But what we have seen the last few years, it’s not as easy as it looks.

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Georgia is very similar to USC in the sense it is easier to recruit players to Georgia than it is to Mississippi State. Athens is an incredible city, and the other Bulldogs have a steeper tradition of winning football games than Mississippi State does.

But the one thing both Southern Cal and Georgia have in common is often unrealistic and high pressure expectations. You’re supposed to win every year at both of those schools. And if you only win 8 games, your name gets put in the hot seat mix. Mark Richt has done incredible things at Georgia, but the fans are tired of being really good every year. One mediocre season might be enough to get him fired. Does Dan Mullen really want to step into that?

The only person who can answer that question honestly is Mullen. While there are a lot of things to like at places like Southern Cal or Gerogia, there are also a lot of things to like about Mississippi State. Win 8 games here, and the fans are normally pretty happy. Have a bad year every few years, and the fans will likely let it slide just as long as you get it taken care of in a season or two.

Then there is the whole business of becoming a legend at Mississippi State. Mullen would likely surpass Jackie Sherrill as the all time winningest coach in the school’s history in 2018, and possibly 2017 if things broke just right. And while that might not sound appealing to some people, it’s still significant.

The most important thing to remember is Dan Mullen did not leave in 2014. His name was as hot as it has ever been after Mississippi State went 10-3 and made an appearance in the Orange Bowl. If he didn’t leave then, why leave now? And that’s why I think Mississippi State fans should sleep well when it comes to Dan Mullen taking leave of Starkville in 2016.