Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Bulldog Coach Due Back Wednesday; Coordinator Hire Still Being Weighed

It won’t mean any raise in pay, or help his 2016 team in preseason polls. Still being elected to the American Football Coaches Association board of trustees is a fine compliment to Mississippi State’s seven-year Bulldog boss.

Mullen was formally named to the AFCA board Tuesday during the body’s annual convention, this year held in San Antonio. The board formulates policy and provides direction for the organization of over 11,000 members from the football coaching profession.

This year’s five members were elected by those attending the convention. Mullen arrived in San Antonio on Sunday and is due back in Starkville on Wednesday.

Mullen is 55-35 through seven seasons with Mississippi State. He is already the third-winningest head coach ever at MSU, and has directed Bulldog teams to six-consecutive bowl games out of the program’s 19 total appearances. The 2015 Bulldogs finished 9-4 with a victory in the Belk Bowl, the fourth post-season victory for Mullen.

State was 10-3 in 2014, making the first time Bulldog football has scored nine or more wins in consecutive seasons ever. Last year’s team also reached #1, in both national polls, for the first time ever at State and stayed their five weeks. Mullen was the SEC’s Coach of the Year in 2014.

In other MSU-related news coming out San Antonio, former Bulldog Jay Hughes is one of the three student-athletes from the Southeastern Conference who will speak for their college peers on proposed governance rule changes at this week’s NCAA Convention. This annual event is also being held in the Texas city. Hughes attended in 2015 as well, after the NCAA Division 1 Board of Governors voted in 2014 to restructure governance and allowing student-athletes to have a voice at all levels of decision-making.

While attending the AFCA this week, Mullen has been working on immediate Bulldog business. He is weighing options for a new defensive coordinator and/or linebackers coach.

A number of candidates have been reported having in-person or by-phone interviews with Mullen. Of those, the perceived leaders seemed to be former Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads and current Houston Texans secondary coach John Butler, with a number of un-reported candidates apparantly also speaking with Mullen this week. One of those, USC linebackers coach Peter Sirmon, emerged Tuesday as a new leader. There was also the possibility of an in-house promotion being kicked around, though that seems to have faded by Tuesday afternoon.

Mississippi State has not officially announced the hiring of a safeties coach, but former Louisville cornerbacks coach Terrell Buckley has joined the staff as of last Thursday and is already able to make recruiting contacts. His official announcement is expected to come Wednesday. MSU sources say the current staff will be out on recruiting trips Thursday, making it more time-intensive to have a full crew on hand by Friday if possible.

This weekend is the first of January’s series of official visit dates, with signing day on February 3.

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