"More Relaxed" Mullen For 2012 Media Days

It's a packed Wednesday morning schedule for Dan Mullen, with his every minute from 8:30 to just after 11:00 scripted for him. Still before starting his SEC Media Days gauntlet, the Mississippi State head coach gave the usual Bulldog beat suspects a few minutes…beginning with some, umm, encouraging words for the locals.

"There are no dumb questions. Just dumb people!" the Mississippi State coach teased. Not that he and the three Bulldog players—quarterback Tyler Russell, cornerback Johnthan Banks, and guard Gabe Jackson—won't face at least a few off-the-wall queries during the 13 various interview stations. In fact, Media Days has become rather rote in recent years with the high, or low, lights the silly or outright dumb questions.

There was none of that in the pre-session session. Beyond, maybe, a follow-up to Mullen's comments about what "drives him nuts" now that the coach claims to be calmer in year-four. His golf game, he said, noting how much trouble he's had this summer finding fairways despite using the same stroke that worked well in 2011.

Mullen also updated three summer health situations afterwards. Sophomore fullback Williams Shumpert and redshirt freshman receiver Devin Fosselman will both be going on medical redshirts now with, respectively, neck and back issues. Both practiced in spring and Fosselman in particular had a strong showing as a slot receiver, though this is a particularly deep position already. Shumpert was still the third-team fullback, having never entirely recovered from 2010 freshman surgery.

Neither will now count against the 85 scholarship limit for playing rosters, so Mississippi State can use those grants in recruiting the next class.

Mullen could only say that sophomore tight end Malcolm Johnson is "out for an extended period" after tearing a chest muscle in an off-campus incident this month.

The brief interview follows, with Mullen due to appear before the entire Media Days mass at 9:40. Over 900 media were granted credentials to this 2012 edition.

Q: Does having guys like Banks and Russell here represent their taking leadership positions? "Yeah, it is. We've tried to make a point of guys that we're expecting to step into that leadership role, to bring them here. And to make sure they know what they're going to get themselves into over the course of this season."

Q: Did you intentionally pick three Mississippi high school products to represent Mississippi State? "Did we? I did walk up here looking and saying we have one from Maben, and one from Amite right here. So there is probably more media here than there are people in their hometowns! And Tyler is a good old country boy with how much he hunts and fishes."

"I never thought of it that way, but I mean it shows I guess the direction the program is going in and our development of kids from Mississippi."

Q: There is more than $100 million going into the football program now with construction. And you talked about last season guys patted each other on the back, to get to seven wins was a little disappointing, do you feel there is maybe more pressure than you've faced in your career? "You know, no. I think last year was a learning experience. Not just for our players but also our coaches, our support staff, our student body, our fans, of how to handle expectations."

"And I think now there is some experience in that our guys handle expectations a lot better. I think the expectations of the guys on our team are higher this year than they were last year. So I think they're used to handling it now. And I think that is a big advantage."

"As far as the facilities, that just shows the commitment that the University, our administration, our fan base is making to our program."

Q: And you can tell over 900 media about stadium expansion, football complex, all-time budget level? "I think a lot of people say well, we have a plan for facilities. We're actually following through with that plan. A lot of people around the country, I've been there and it's great for us. Since we've been there we've talked about it, now we look and say there is the construction on the building."

"It's great to talk about stadium expansion, I can't wait until we see it. And I think at the end of the season we're going to start seeing that, it's we're actually taking steps and moving forward."

Q: Going into your fourth year what have you learned most about being a head coach in the SEC? "I think I'm more relaxed, worrying about things I can control and not worrying about things that you can't control. I think the first two years every little thing you're kind of nuts about. And now I look back…even when issues come up, someone will come to my desk and they're ready for me to explode about this issue, I look and say it's something we can't control. Those are things I guess I don't worry about much and it keeps my blood pressure down!"

Q: Do you get onto guys more this year but you say you're trying to be relaxed? "I think they see that they know, that we're on the same page now. I think there's a lot less people walking on eggshells…even though I like to keep everybody on edge a little bit around the facility and all that! And then everybody involved in the program, that they know with the retention we've had there is a plan in place. As long as we are doing the best we can to follow that plan. If there is something outside of our control, hey, we'll adjust and we'll try to overcome that."

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