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Mullen At The Podium

Here’s a rundown of Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen’s comments:

* Mullen began by selling the positives of his program: “Came in last year, finishing the year on a high note, ranked 15th nationally, winning a New Year’s Day bowl game for the first time in a long time.  Coming into it this season with season tickets selling out the earliest in the history of the school.  For us, coming in off of 10 consecutive sellouts, the atmosphere our fanbase has created.  Giving is up and we’re gonna start a new football facility here this fall… to help us develop our facilities to get ‘em to the level that we want them to be at.  To the level where I feel we can have the top facilities in the Southeastern Conference.” 

* The goal of State’s program is to “win the SEC West.”

* Mullen is in favor of Mike Slive’s proposal to raise academic standards.  “I think one of the things we’re trying to do is to make sure that we stay out in front of the college football world, here in the Southeastern Conference.  I know Commissioner Slive does a great job of leading us to keep us as the top conference in the country.”

* Mullen can take a 10-word question and turn it into a 500-word answer.  If you’re a reporter or radio host, that’s A-OK.  If you’re trying to blog his every word… well.  Mullen’s talkative nature might explain why for the third-straight year he is way behind schedule while the other coaches are pretty close to being on time.  (Mullen is also much more at ease this year than he was two years ago in his first appearance at Media Days.  Much more conversational.)

* Mullen said of tailback Vick Ballard “He plays with a chip on his shoulder that he wants to go out there and prove everybody wrong.  ‘I should’ve been recruited out of high school.  I should’ve been more heavily recruited out of junior college.”

* Asked how far MSU is from winning the SEC, Mullen said he doesn’t have a timetable.  “You go in and you look at the schedule and the games we have to win and we have some tough games we have to win at home.  I’ve always believed you have to win your home games if you want to win in the Southeastern Conference.  If we can win all our home games this year and find a way to win a couple of tough road games, you’re gonna find yourself in Atlanta.  And I think we have the talent to do it.  The question is: Are we that team, are we that team that this year is going to come together, that’s going to jell, work a little bit harder, believe in themselves, believe in each other, a little bit more than anybody else out there, and reach our potential and be the best that we can be.”  (That was a combination run-on sentence and coachspeak.  Not easy to do.)

* Mullen says he’s not a big fan of recruiting services.  He says he prefers going out and finding prospects on his own.

* Asked about quarterback Chris Relf, Mullen said: “When I first got hired and went into meetings and watching Chris I had a lot of doubts of whether he could play quarterback in the Southeastern Conference.  Chris really kinda played his first year and relied on some of his natural ability and, you know, ran the ball well, made some good throws, but was very inconsistent. … Started to play with a little bit of confidence (last season).  But what impresses me with Chris is the maturity that he’s taken at the position.  The extra things, the extra time, the extra investment that he puts in.  He’s really grasped the offense and he’s done a great job managing the game while he’s out there.”

* Mullen was asked about a billboard on the Louisiana/Mississippi border featuring his face and the words “Welcome to our State.”  The coach interrupted the questioner to say, “Did you enjoy your time there?”  Asked about the other two schools in the state that MSU plays “from time to time,” Mullen mentioned that Southern Miss would soon be coming on the Bulldogs’ schedule.  No mention of Ole Miss.  “To me, we are the state university for Mississippi.  You know, we’re the people’s university.”

* No Cam Newton questions to this point.

* Mullen was not in favor the 25-man signing cap because MSU is in a state with several junior colleges and he signed some kids knowing that they would go the juco route.  But he also said he wasn’t strongly against the decision.

* Asked about Steve Spurrier’s remark that Mississippi State has a nice jet, Mullen smiled and said, “I’ve never played Augusta National so I can’t be on his level.  He’s probably a member there, we just don’t know.”

* Regarding MSU’s smaller budget, Mullen said he focuses on “what we can do, not what we can’t do.”  Good answer.

* Mullen downplayed rumors last December that he was talking to other schools.  “The reality of the situation is my wife and I are very, very happy at Mississippi State. … I’d read the rumors and kinda laugh because none of that was even a consideration for me and my family.”


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