Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen has spent three years needling and gigging the fans and coaches at Ole Miss, er, I mean “that school up north.” So it was a bit surprising yesterday when he had only pleasantries to share regarding the job first-year coach Hugh Freeze is doing in Oxford:
“It looks like, to me, that Hugh has their guys playing hard. They’ve been playing real hard and battling right down to the very end in most of their games this season. We expect a four-quarter fight…
It looks like they’re on the right path. They’re playing hard. When I look at my team, what I want anyway, is when I turn on the film I want to see a team where you have all 11 guys on the field playing really hard. If you do that you have the opportunity to win. I’ve seen their guys play hard this year. As I evaluate programs — I don’t know if I’m an expert — but he has them going in the right direction.”
Now, are those kind words a product of Freeze’s own nice guy reputation? Possibly. He’s a hard guy not to like.
But it’s also possible the Mullen spent his first three seasons trying to send a message that his program — not Mississippi’s — was the premier football program in the Magnolia State. Now, having won three Egg Bowls in a row and on the verge of yet another bowl trip, he might believe it’s time to make sure his team takes the Rebels seriously.
MSU snapped a three-game skid on Saturday against Arkansas and can still finish 9-3 with a win against Ole Miss.