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Wow Headlines 1/13/2012

Saturday SEC Basketball Finals
Auburn 74, South Carolina 71
Mississippi State 72, Georgia 61
Alabama 68, Tennessee 65
Texas A&M 83, Kentucky 71
Florida 74, LSU 52
Arkansas 56, Vanderbilt 33
Ole Miss 64, Missouri 49
Nick Saban will receiver a $525,000 bonus for winning BCS and SEC Championships
A trio of Alabama players, offensive lineman D.J. Fluker, running back Eddie Lacy and cornerback Dee Milliner are leaving school to enter the 2013 NFL draft
Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops on Johnny Manziel: “If they can keep him out of jail or keep him eligible, he’s gonna be pretty good”…Stoops later apologized for his remarks
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Mullen’s Recent Struggles May Actually Benefit MSU In One Way

In just two short years, Dan Mullen had the Mississippi State fanbase believing.  Being competitive was no longer good enough.  Mullen had raised expectation levels and wins had become the target.

But the coach hasn’t recorded one of those in SEC play so far this season.  At 3-3 (0-3 in the league), Mullen’s honeymoon is now over in Starkville.  That doesn’t mean he’s in any trouble whatsoever, it only means that he’s no longer viewed as infallible. 

There may be a plus side to Mullen’s recent struggles, however. 

On Monday night, Arizona fired head coach Mike Stoops.  Arizona’s athletic director is Greg Byrne.  Byrne is the man who hired Mullen at MSU and who reportedly got along famously with the coach before taking the job in Tucson.  Mullen, of course, was an assistant to Urban Meyer at Utah as well so he does know that Southwest and likely would still have some recruiting ties.

Now, would Byrne try to lure a head coach from a school that gave him his first shot as a big-time athletic director?  Probably not.  But if Mullen were sitting at 5-1 right now, you can bet his name would be connected to Byrne and the Arizona opening regardless.

Instead, it’s hard to picture the Wildcat fanbase getting excited over a coach who’s oh-fer in his conference and struggled to beat Louisiana Tech and UAB in recent weeks.  So names like Mike Leach and Chris Petersen will top most national candidate lists instead.

If Mullen turns things around this season, that could change.  But for now, the bright spot of MSU’s disappointing start is the fact that Bulldog fans won’t have to hear their coach’s name be kicked around in connection to another job.  Again.

(In the words of Gilda Radner, “Nevermind.”  Sorry, State fans.  This piece lists Mullen a “huge long shot,” but he’s still the second name mentioned.  I don’t think Zona fans would be too thrilled with that hire at the moment.)

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