Mullen Enjoying his new Role

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Of the three new head coaches in the SEC, only Dan Mullen is a true rookie. The former Florida offensive coordinator is now in charge of Mississippi State's program, and when he met the national press as a head man for the first time Wednesday it was clear he was energized by the experience.

Mullen's gift of gab was definitely on display - his opening statement alone lasted 13 minutes.

Mullen was hired to make MSU football more enjoyable. Even when Sylvester Croom's squad won the Liberty Bowl in 2007, they did it 10-3. Last year's 3-2 loss to Auburn may have been the most difficult football game to watch ever played. Bulldog fans are looking for some excitement when they have the ball, and it's the new coach's job to find a way to give it to them.

Mullen's eager to get back on the field with his team and see how much progress they made over the summer.

"We have to have great carryover from spring til now with our current team. They can't come in as a blank slate and forget everything we taught them in the spring."

One of the big questions for MSU is who will run Mullen's scheme. Tyson Lee is the returning quarterback, but freshman Tyler Russell is a touted prospect. Mullen is not in a hurry to establish one guy as his designated field general.

"We might play more than one quarterback, but we need (Lee) as a senior to be a steady leader and a winner for us out there on the field to get our program going in the right direction."

Mullen was asked what ideas he would take away from his time under Florida head coach Urban Meyer. Rather than focusing on game strategies, Meyer's protege emphasized his ability to generate a positive mental outlook.

"One of the big "do"s I take from him is that effort, that attitude that a team plays with," Mullen said. "You win a lot of football games at 5:45 in the morning Wednesday in February."

Mullen will lead his team against Meyer in October, which also means taking on prize quarterback pupil Tim Tebow for the first time. He claims to be looking forward to it.

"It's going to be a real neat experience.... It's going to be a unique part of our relationship this year, where we get to go against each other."

Mullen did note he would have to change all his signals before matching up with the Gators, and he would be watching carefully to see if they'd done the same.

Not everything is ideal for Mullen at the moment. Top tailback Anthony Dixon picked up a DUI charge over the past weekend, with no answer yet from the coach as to what discipline he will face. There's still some attrition on the Bulldogs roster as well, with the most recent departure being redshirt freshman wide receiver Terrence Davis.

It will be a stunner if MSU isn't predicted to finish last in the SEC West by almost all of the media voters when the poll comes out Friday, but don't expect that to faze their new head man. Mullen clearly believes that despite there being a steep hill for them to climb, he can build the Bulldogs into a consistent winner.


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