That’s a rather liberal use of the word “great” isn’t it? We are talking about a veteran team that entered 2011 with big expectations following a 9-4 season in 2010. But the Bulldogs failed once again to knock off a single SEC West foe that doesn’t have the word “Ole” in its title. State had to win its last regular-season game just to become bowl eligible and then had to snuff out Wake Forest 23-17 in Nashville to finish 7-6.
Here’s guessing most MSU fans don’t view that as a great season. But it was another step forward in Mullen’s overall rebuilding job. And that much is positive.
The Bulldogs slid backwards from year-to-year, yes, but they didn’t slide as far back as State has slud — thank ya, Dizzy Dean — in past years. They reached a second-straight bowl game for the first time since 1999-2000. They continued their recent mastery over rival Ole Miss, winning a third-straight Egg Bowl for the first time since 1942.
Those are signs of growth. They’re reasons for Mullen and MSU fans to remain upbeat moving forward.
13. We were asked last night on Lexington radio about recent rumors that Joker Phillips won’t be back next year. We don’t believe there’s anything to them… just like the Mark Richt resignation rumors from earlier this week. These guys aren’t buying the Phillips talk, either.
Dan Mullen isn’t afraid of his team being tight against Ole Miss. The idea of treating the Egg Bowl as just another game is foreign to him. And that’s one reason he gigs UM every chance he gets — whether its saying “the school up north” or telling his team last year that they would never lose to the Rebels again.
“The reason we do it is because we have to make sure our kid know that this game is different and our approach has to be different to this game. … Within our program, by how we refer to their school and having a (countdown) clock in our locker room and all of those things, it changes the mindset of the players when you get to this week. They know this is not just the next game on the schedule. This is a different game.”
“All it takes is one loss against them. Then you understand it much, much, much, much, much, much better. I understand it fully. Totally. We understand the emphasis that needs to be placed on this game, 100 percent.”
One has to wonder if Nutt could have survived at Ole Miss if he’d gone 3-0 against MSU and not 1-2 with back-to-back losses to the mouthy Mullen.
“I think they’re going to come out fired up and hot, but if we jump on them, I think they’ll kind of lay down. I feel like they’re wanting to lay down in a way, because o the things that have been happening here recently.”
Is Lawrence right? Probably. Teams playing for lame-duck coaches usually have little pep in their step. The Rebels have lived down to that expectation the past two weeks.
But was Lawrence wise to share his feeling publicly? No. If Ole Miss’ players are ready to lay down, why give them any reason to get back up?
In more than three years of posting stories here at MrSEC.com, we’ve posted — to my knowledge — two videos from inside a school’s locker room. In both cases, the video posted was released by the school or an alumni association as a promotion of their product.
Other than that, what happens in a locker room stays in a locker room, in our view. We’ve seen leaked stuff before, but I sure can’t recall posting any of it.
Having been in college locker rooms after victories, I can tell you that what’s said there is a) said for the sake of the players, not the fans and media and b) similar no matter which locker room you’re inside.
After wins, boasting is the order of the day. After losses, “we beat ourselves” is the mantra.
If a school releases something boastful or weepy, we find that newsworthy because that shows that the school/programs wants the information out there. When MSU releases video of Dan Mullen saying his team will never lose to Ole Miss again, that is more a story than an exuberant Mullen saying the actual words.
However, when someone sneaks a video — one that the school isn’t pushing — then we’ve in the past backed away, not wanting to invade the private moments between a coach and his team.
Not everyone feels the way we do. For some sites — that’ve proven time and again they would rather be the story than report the story — anything and everything is fair game. Ask Tennessee’s Derek Dooley.
“That’s a wound that I’m going to leave open that’s not going to heal. We’ve leave it open for a year and we’ll discuss it next year…
We’ll talk about it as much as you guys want to talk about it next year. We’ll watch it as many times as we’ve got to watch it next year.
I look at it as respect. Some people act like they won the Super Bowl, and they beat a team that the two previous years had won four games total. Obviously, we are closing the gab and threatening some people and making some people uncomfortable. We’ll see. We’ll leave it at that. We’ll move on. But we’re have a lot of discussion about this next year when the time is right.”
Dooley was not thrilled that his postgame locker room chat was released to the public. (Note to coaches: You might want to institute a “no cell phones in the locker room” policy.)
“I’m a little disappointed that a video is out on our locker room celebration. But that’s kind of the world we live in. It’s like there’s no sacred place. I think probably all 120 (FBS) coaches out there in football have a side to them where they loosen up with the team that they don’t do in public.
You take those things for what they are. It’s a postgame, emotional, have a little fun… and then you close the door on them when you leave.”
Well you can bet Franklin won’t be closing the door on them. And he has every right to use Dooley’s words as a motivation for his team next year. Just as Dooley has every right to put a foot in the rump of anyone posting video of UT’s pre- or postgame locker room talks.
That said, Tennessee does deserve a pass on part of their celebration. The Volunteers sang the following song as noted in The Tennessean:
“We don’t give a damn about the whole school of Vanderbilt, the whole school of Vanderbilt, the whole school of Vanderbilt; we don’t give a damn about the whole school of Vanderbilt… we’re from Tennessee.”
Anyone who’s spent anytime at all around college football knows that that little ditty is a postgame tradition at about half the schools in the country. As in: “We don’t give a damn about the whole state of Michigan, we’re from O-HI-O.” Etc, etc. It’s a staple of many SEC and Big Ten locker rooms and I can say that from personal experience.
You can probably go ahead an pencil in a couple more losses for Ole Miss as Houston Nutt makes his way to the exit. The team was expected to lifeless against Louisiana Tech and it was in a 27-7 homefield loss on Saturday.
Now, on top of the emotionally-draining coaching change, Nutt’s team will have to soldier on without two key players.
“I hate it,” Nutt told The Jackson Clarion-Ledger last evening. “Got to learn how to handle change and it’s tough for a lot of them. Especially when the season doesn’t go just right, it’s easy to let go.”
“That’s always a shame in this profession. When you live in this (coaching) world, you have a very different perspective of how that affects, not just the head coach, but an awful lot of assistant coaches, their families and their livelihoods of how hard that can be on a family. A lot of times people get caught up in what it is and sometimes it’s just a game, other times it’s more than a game to people in the coaching profession. This is hard on our family’s lives. I commit so much time away from my family. It’s not something we take very lightly, so any time you see a coach potentially lose a job, it’s a sad day.”
Mullen also stated that he doesn’t think Ole Miss will be any more fired up for this year’s Egg Bowl than they have been the past two years (both MSU wins).
2. Parrish Alford: “There’s no confirmation that Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt has been fired.”
3. Here’s what Nutt had to say last night after the game when asked if he would be back next year. “I don’t know. I don’t know. That’s not for me to decide. I’d like to be. I plan on being. But that’s not for me to decide.”