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MSU’s Mullen: 2011 Was “A Great Season”

Talk about positive spin.  Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen said the following after his team won the Music City Bowl to insure a winning record:

“You know what?  To me, it’s a great season.”

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.

But great?  That’s a bit of a stretch.

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Happy Thanksgiving Headlines, 2011

Before we rush to meet family and gobble down some turkey, we want to catch you up on some headlines from across the league.

But before we start the headlines, we want to extend our thanks to you for reading and supporting  Your loyalty is very much appreciated.

May all of you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!


1.  The NCAA’s scholarship reforms could change the way schools recruit.

2.  Alabama’s Trent Richardson has done well on the road this year… and a trip to Auburn is up next.

3.  Auburn is getting healthier as the Iron Bowl nears.

4.  Prepping for #1 LSU and reeling from the death of teammate Garrett Uekman, Bobby Petrino has kept his team away from the media this week.

5.  Tomorrow’s game will be one of the most important in Razorback history.

6.  LSU is in position to “bail out the BCS.”

7.  MSU’s Chad Bumphis is fired up for the Egg Bowl.

8.  The Ole Miss defense has been run ragged this season.

9.  John Brantley’s ankle has healed to the point that he’ll now be able to go under center when Florida faces Florida State.

10.  Auburn, Florida and Georgia Tech… with a win against the Yellow Jackets, Georgia can sweep its oldest rivals.

11.  There’s no official word on whether or not Isaiah Crowell will play Saturday.

12.  Kentucky’s quarterbacks aren’t 100% healthy with Tennessee up next.

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.

14.  Should the South Carolina-Clemson rivalry move to Thanksgiving?

15.  Tennessee will look to correct red zone errors against Kentucky on Saturday.

16.  Depending on who’s eligible, Vanderbilt (or Mississippi State or Tennessee) could land in the Music City Bowl.





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Mullen, Nutt Took Very Different Approaches To The Egg Bowl… And Mullen’s Method Worked A Lot Better

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.

It’s all part of Mullen’s master plan:

“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.”

Compare that to the approach of soon-to-be ex-Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt, who now admits that he “didn’t think very much about” the Egg Bowl rivalry when he arrived in Oxford.  But…

“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.

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MSU Player Says UM Ready “To Lay Down”

Mississippi State senior tackle Addison Lawrence has thrown a little gas on the Egg Bowl fire heading into Saturday’s game.  It seems the Bulldog believes Ole Miss is on the verge of throwing in the towel:

“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?

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UT-VU Rivalry Heating Up As Franklin Gets Hot Over Leaked UT Postgame Celebration

In more than three years of posting stories here at, 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.

The first involved Vanderbilt’s celebration after beating Ole Miss last September (the school posted the video).  The second involved Mississippi State’s postgame celebration after its Egg Bowl win last November (MSU’s alumni association posted the video).

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.

Dooley’s locker room was mighty celebratory on Saturday night after his Vols outlasted Vanderbilt 27-21 in overtime.  Someone recorded the celebration with a cell phone camera and the website posted it under the headline: “Derek Dooley Slams Vandy In Post-Game Locker Room Celebration.”

In the video below, if you listen closely, you can hear Dooley tell his team (in between wild cheers) that “The one thing that Tennessee always does is kick the s— out of Vandy.”

And that’s set off a s— storm in Nashville.  Asked about the celebration yesterday, Vandy coach James Franklin was not amused:

“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.

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Mackey, Scott Suspended At Ole Miss

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.

Starting quarterback Randall Mackey and running back Jeff Scott have been suspended along with backup receiver Korvic Neat for Saturday’s game against LSU and possibly for the Egg Bowl, too.  The oft-cited “violation of team rules” was given as the reason for the punishments.

“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.”

As for the suspensions carrying over to the Egg Bowl, Nutt said, “It looks like two (games) right now.”

Zach Stoudt will start at quarterback and Barry Brunetti will see some time against LSU’s suffocating defense, too.  Congratulations.

Mackey and Scott ranked first and second on the Rebel team for total offense.

Credit Nutt for asking the UM administration for the right to go down with his ship, because that vessel is most certainly going down fast at this point.

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SEC Headlines – 11/10/11 Part Two

1.  Alabama’s defense is once again prepping for a two-quarterback system.

2.  If Mississippi State can upset Bama on Saturday, it would be the Crimson Tide’s first loss to an unranked foe since a 2007 loss to Louisiana-Monroe.

3.  The bowl possibilities for Auburn (and everyone else in the SEC) are wide open at the moment.

4.  The team that’s finished with the most rushing yards has won the last eight Auburn-Georgia games.

5.  Arkansas’ defense is feeling confident after allowing just 207 yards of offense to South Carolina on Saturday.

6.  Current Razorback — and former Tennessee — assistant coach Steve Caldwell isn’t talking to the press as he prepares to face his old employer for the first time.

7.  Les Miles says he hasn’t given a lot of thought to which of his two quarterbacks will play first on Saturday.

8.  Freshman punter Brad Wing has had a big impact for LSU.

9.  Alabama native and Mississippi State linebacker Brandon Wilson says he was “never a ‘Roll Tide, University of Alabama’ kind of guy.”

10.  Dan Mullen says the Tide “deserve all the hype they’ve gotten this  year.”

11.  Ole Miss offensive coordinator David Lee is impressed by Louisiana Tech’s defense.

12.  Houston Nutt’s biggest problem was getting his signees to campus and then keeping them there.

13.  This writer says Rebel fans don’t appear to want any part of this year’s Egg Bowl with MSU.

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Mullen Sad “Any Time You See A Coach” Lose His Job

In his three years at Mississippi State, Dan Mullen has thrown more than his fair share of digs, slights and barbs at Ole Miss and Houston Nutt.

When asked about Nutt’s dismissal in Oxford, Mullen didn’t specifically address the downfall of his chief in-state rival:

“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).

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Houston Nutt Rumors

1. SB Nation report: “The Rebel head coach was informed that he would not be retained beyond the Egg Bowl and will, perhaps, be dismissed as early as Monday.”

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.”

4. Ron Higgins: “(I)t’s time to write the check for Nutt’s $6 million buyout, say “next” and move on.”

UPDATE: Nutt hasn’t talked to school about job status.

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SEC Headlines – 10/26/11 Part One

1.  Clint Moseley gained his offensive coordinator’s trust with his attitude at LSU last weekend..

2.  Now Gus Malzahn wants to help his QB get into a rhythm.

3.  Alabama’s offense comes to life after halftime in SEC games.

4.  This writer says Bama will face a “Mike Tyson-sized challenge” in LSU.

5.  Arkansas is preparing for a steady stream of blitzes from Vanderbilt.

6.  An ESPN special tonight could be a nice recruiting tool for Bobby Petrino.

7.  Les Miles was evasive on the SEC teleconference regarding yesterday’s reinstatement of three Tiger players.

8.  This writer says the November 5th game with Alabama will be “another huge matchup against the closest program LSU has to a real rival.”

9.  Could it be that Ole Miss and Mississippi State might both be winless in the SEC when they meet in the Egg Bowl?

10.  Dan Mullen says he may play two quarterbacks against Kentucky.

11.  With team chemistry improving on the Dogs’ hoops team, Renardo Sidney credits John Lucas for teaching him “how to keep my anger inside and count to 10.”  (I’ll assume Lucas didn’t actually teach him to count to 10.)

12.  Ole Miss has finally found a starting offensive line with which it can be comfortable.

13. If the Rebels want to snap their 10-game SEC losing skid, they need to stop the run.

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