Bulldogs Excited Over Re-Contracted Coach

Considering that he was one of the first prospects to throw his lot in with the new coach, it was fitting that Chad Bumphis was also among the first to learn his coach is, well, still his coach, as Dan Mullen and athletic director Scott Stricklin came to a formal contract extension Thursday morning. "He grabbed me in the hotel and told me about it," Bumphis related.

Thus it fell to sophomore wideout Bumphis to relay word to the rest of Mississippi State's squad as they prepared for one of the final Gator Bowl practices. Even after the Thursday afternoon session, on the campus of North Florida, ended Bumphis wasn't sure if everyone had gotten the word.

But he was entirely certain how all would respond.

"Yeah, we're pretty excited about it, because of what he has going for us and how we're looking right now."

Since their 2010 regular season ended Bulldog players have had reason to be excited, albeit not in a good way, about what might be happening with their second-year coach. Not because of anything Mullen himself or anyone with Mississippi State said, of course. It was the repeated rounds of outside speculations claiming Mullen was being considered, make that targeted, by programs in need of a new head coach. Some media even went so far to say offers had been tendered.

None were, of course. Still there was a natural tension among Bulldogs, particularly underclassmen like true soph Bumphis, over the unknowns. Then again, Bumphis now says, everyone ought to have known better--if Mullen's prior word to them meant anything—that nothing was going to change.

"I mean, that's what he told us when he recruited us," said Bumphis today. "That he was going to stick around for a while. And the way he's turned this program around you have no choice but to be excited. As far as him leaving it was just everybody wanting to know and I'm just happy it's over."

At least that part is over. Much more is about to begin though as Mississippi State transitions through the Gator Bowl game with Michigan and on into year-three under Mullen's management. Both the coach and his still-developing athletes of that 2009 recruiting class know there are greater things in store.

"When he recruited me that really was a big reason," Bumphis said. "I talked to a lot of coaches and you could just tell how sincere he was about what he wanted to do here. And I just fell in love with Mississippi State and wanted to be a part of it."

Of course Bumphis also really, really wishes he could be part of the Gator Bowl fun. The broken right collarbone suffered in State's Egg Bowl victory will keep him on the sideline, though Bumphis was able to shed the sling he's worn since the operation. "So I'll be back out soon," he said. Just not soon enough for Saturday, sadly.

But that was somewhat offset by being bearer of good Bulldog news from the re-contracted coach to his excited ball club.

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