Since accepting this, his first head coaching position, in December of 2008, Mullen now has the third-longest tenure in the Southeastern Conference. Put another way: with the firing of Georgia’s Mark Richt, and Steve Spurrier’s mid-season retirement at South Carolina, there will have been sixteen coaching changes at the other 13 current SEC programs.
Only Alabama and LSU join Mississippi State in having the same boss on their sideline in fall 2009. And of course LSU just went through a curious and even comic coup attempt on Les Miles’ job. Miles is to return, at least as of now, for a 12th season in 2016.
Meanwhile Nick Saban rules all he surveys, not just in Tuscaloosa but around the region, here in his ninth season.
And now here is Mullen, seven seasons on the Mississippi State job and practically a graybeard—he only turns 44 next April--by the SEC’s increasingly unstable standards. Mullen will begin preparing his seventh Bulldog team next week for the program’s sixth-consecutive bowl appearance. That streak is of course a record, since the 2013 team set it at four-straight. It will be the 19th bowl game for Mississippi State.
This 2015 team will also be playing for the 55th victory of Mullen’s career here. State learns the bowl assignment around 5:00ct Sunday.
Meanwhile, with Georgia filling their opening quickly, South Carolina and Missouri continue seeking their next coaches. That also adds to the total of SEC coaches who Mississippi State’s Mullen has out-lasted in just seven seasons. And while South Carolina and Missouri changes can be accounted to age issues, lack of success this year certainly is a factor.
The numbers of SEC member transitions in this same stretch are: Arkansas 1, Auburn 1, Florida 2, Georgia 1, Kentucky 2, Mississippi 1, Missouri 1, South Carolina 1, Tennessee 2, Texas A&M 1 (this was just before joining the SEC), and Vanderbilt 3.
Instability is not confined to the SEC of course. Looking around the other ‘Power 5’ conferences, changes come faster these days. Just a quick sampling of programs shows since Mullen settled in at State these schools have had two coaching changes; Arizona, Louisville, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio State, Penn State, Southern Cal, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Among the one-change programs, again not a complete list but just selected names, are Arizona State, Nebraska, North Carolina State, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, Virginia, and West Virginia.
So even if Mullen is listening to reported offers from other programs, much less considering them seriously, seven seasons of stability is as much part of his impact at Mississippi State as is the winning and bowling.
Or in SEC terms, just plain surviving in the same job is a victory.