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Mullen Gets A New $10 Million Deal

College football is all about perspective.

Maryland’s Ralph Friedgen was the ACC Coach of the Year after leading his Terrapins to an 8-4 record this season.  He was rewarded by being forced out of his job after 10 years.  Maryland will pay him to go away.

Dan Mullen also led Mississippi State to an 8-4 record this year.  But he’s been given a new four-year, $10.6 million contract to stay in Starkville. 

Personally I think it’s a great move by State, but the irony of the Friedgen situation bears noting.  If Mullen continues to have 8-4 seasons at State, eventually Bulldog fans will want more.  His 8-4 is currently viewed as an up-and-coming 8-4.  Friedgen’s 8-4 was viewed as a “same ol’ Terps” 8-4.

Crazy job.

All that said, Mullen’s new deal averages about $2.65 million per year, though he won’t make that much in the upcoming season.  His pay will increase the longer he stays in Starkville.

The $2.65 million-a-year average would put Mullen in the middle of the SEC’s coaching pack, but near the top of the national stats.  Only 10 coaches in America currently make more than $2.65 million per season.

There is also a $1.4 million buyout should the coach leave.

“We’re excited for the work Dan has done with us, and our goal is to build a program that can win consistently and have success and compete for championships,” AD Scott Stricklin said of the deal.  “This is a big commitment for us to make sure we’ve got the people in place that can make that happen.”

Mullen’s name was briefly tied to job openings at Miami and Florida this month though neither school is believed to have made him an offer.  (Florida, apparently, did not even contact their old offensive coordinator.)

“To me, I’ve never really had any interest in leaving here this year,” the coach said.  “And now with this deal, I certainly have no interest in leaving any time in the future.”

Mullen’s big raise — as The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal points out — is a result of more cash rolling into the MSU program. 

“Between (2008) and his first year, we were about $5 million or so in ticket revenue, and we’re up to about $8 million or so after Dan’s first year,” Stricklin said.  “That’s a pretty significant jump, and that doesn’t even take into account all the other (benefits), the Bulldog Club donations and everything else that was impacted by that.  We’re not in a bottom-line business like a corporation would be, but finances are pretty important to what we’re trying to do.”

Yes, they are.  And the bottom line is this — State has shown a willingness to spend with the SEC’s big boys.  That’s especially impressive considering the school’s low-end-of-the-SEC athletic budget.  Stricklin is taking some of the new cash that Mullen is bringing in and investing it back into the coach.  Smart move.

Of course, now the pressure will rise for Mullen to live up to his new deal.  As we noted above, 8-4 is great now, but eventually every fanbase wants more.

Mullen knows that.  “That’s a lot of pressure.  I better make sure to make the state proud.”

Mullen’s contract also pushes him ahead of Ole Miss’ Houston Nutt for the time being, though Nutt is expected to see his own salary jump back in front of Mullen’s in 2011.  MSU’s coach — when prompted by reporters — couldn’t pass up a chance to take a little shot at the Rebels.

“I like anything that we do that makes us better than the school up north.  I never looked at it that way, but as long as we’re ahead of the school up north, I’m happy.”




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