Tuesday, south Florida media outlets reported the University of Miami had interviewed Mullen and recently-fired Georgia Coach, and former Hurricane quarterback, Mark Richt. Also reported as interviewing are former UM coach Butch Davis and former Rutgers head coach and NFL coach Greg Schiano. Both the latter have been working as TV network football analysts.
There is no clarification if Mullen interviewed in person or via phone. Mullen was in his Seal Center office Sunday afternoon for a full staff meeting ahead of this week’s round of regular recruiting trips. Also, Mullen and staff are setting schedules for practices pending Mississippi State learning which bowl the Bulldogs will play in. That news is to come after 5:00 Sunday.
It will be a record sixth-straight bowl appearance for Bulldog football, all under seventh-season coach Mullen. Most project State will play in either the Belk Bowl against a ACC opponent, or in the Music City Bowl against a Big Ten/ACC member.
The Bulldogs finished 8-4, 4-4 SEC, giving Mullen a 54-35 record at State. However the season ended with a quick blowout loss to arch-rival Mississippi, the second-consecutive year State has lost the Battle for the Golden Egg.
Mullen interviewed with Miami in 2010 only days after those Bulldogs won the Egg Bowl for a 8-4 regular season finish, earning a Gator Bowl berth. He was not offered the job at the time. Five years later, ironically Mullen was back in the neighborhood for a week. Last December, Mississippi State played in the Orange Bowl.
The coach chosen over Mullen in 2010, Al Golden, was fired mid-way of this season. Golden was 32-25 at Miami, his tenure hampered by a lengthy and ultimately miss-handled NCAA investigation into booster involvement with the football program.
The Miami athletic director at the time who picked Golden, Kirby Hocutt, left in February 2011 for Texas Tech where he still works. He is also now a first-year member of the College Football Playoff committee which tonight issues its next-to-last rankings. The current athletic director is Blake James, promoted from interim in February 2013. James came back to Miami in September 2010 and has survived the scandals around the program with rogue boosters. Miami funding has improved in this era while remaining a top-ten academic performer for the full athletic program.
Having by good fortune not been hired in 2010, Mullen has since continued winning seasons at Mississippi State. His tenure has seen construction of the $25 million Seal Center as Bulldog football headquarters, as well as the expansion and upgrade of Davis Wade Stadium completed in August 2014. Last year’s Bulldogs began 9-0, with an overall win streak of 12 games, and spent five weeks ranked #1 in both national polls and then in the inaugural CFP rankings.
In February 2015, Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin announced a revised contract beginning with a $4.0 million salary this current year and averaging $4.275 million over four years. This places Mullen among the nation’s twenty highest-paid coaches, though in the mega-dollar SEC he is mid-pack price.
It also signals that a program wishing to hire Mullen away from the program he has built must be prepared to pay. In the case of jobs which, correctly or not, Mullen’s name has been mentioned, most would have to invest more than they have been used to paying.
Mullen will not be in Jackson this evening at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, where record-smashing quarterback Dak Prescott could repeat as winner of the trophy given to the state of Mississippi’s most outstanding college football player. Last year quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson attended, this year line coach John Hevesy will represent State.
A further irony is, it was at that same event in 2010—won by Bulldog linebacker Chris White—that Mullen was asked about his reported first interview with Miami. Mullen did not confirm that report at the time, either.