Mullen Setting Staff, Recruiting Plans

Four days into the job and Dan Mullen is certainly dressing the part of Mississippi State's head coach. "This is some pretty nice stuff right here I've got," he said, picking at the deep Maroon golf shirt emblazoned with a banner M. "It's a good color on me!"

But of course there is a lot more to the Mississippi State football job right now than just changing a look. Since accepting athletic director Greg Byrne's offer Wednesday morning, Mullen has been full-speed-ahead in changing the more critical aspects of the Bulldog program. In fact he's been so on the go that his first real rest only came Friday. "I actually slept a little last night, I was pretty tired," he told reporters Saturday night in Humphrey Coliseum after addressing the crowd at halftime.

Mullen is maximizing his time on the job, taking care of what he sees as the two overriding initial issues to address: his assistant staff, and recruiting. These aren't even priorities 1 and 1A either, but have equal and interlocking importance in Mullen's mind.

"A couple of people (candidates for jobs) have come in, and some phone stuff, and I think we're going to have some more people coming in tomorrow and just try to get this in place," Mullen said. But so far the only names announced have been those of 2008 season staff members who will not be retained in those capacities by the new coach. Line coach J.B. Grimes, receivers coach Pat Washington, and linebackers coach Louis Campbell, as well as administrative aide Brad Pendergrass, have been reassigned in the athletic department.

"We had to let a couple of people go from the previous staff," Mullen said tonight. "In the next couple of days here I think we're going to have a couple more announcements tomorrow of some guys coming on board for us."

"We're not in a hurry, I don't think we're going to complete this staff in the very near future. But I want to have enough of a staff that we're up and running for recruiting next week."

Reports and rumors have circulated about candidates for various posts in the new regime. Mullen did not address any of those directly. "It's a little mix-and-match. I have an idea of what I want this staff to be like. So it's kind of finding that right combination of things.

"I think when we do get the coordinators in place I also want to leave some flexibility for them. I know as a coordinator in the past you like to have flexibility and you like to have people you know in there. So I want to leave some flexibility for some coordinators when we get them in place.

What isn't so flexible is the recruiting calendar. Mullen and the aides-in-place have just a week to make contacts with prospects—particularly junior college players graduating this fall semester, who can begin signing December 17. Coach Sylvester Croom and staff had secured several commitments from juco prospects, and Mullen intends to honor the mutual word.

"We're going after those guys just as hard. I'm hoping Wednesday we can have a pretty good announcement on some of those guys coming to play for us. But we'll see Wednesday how it goes. We've got to get out the last two days and see some of those guys, we have to finish it off now and have a happy Wednesday."

Mullen said besides talking to candidates tomorrow, the existing staff will meet Sunday to settle their schedules for the recruiting week ahead.

"And head out on the road on Monday, recruiting. I want to get out there and hopefully see a lot of our commitments and just solidify things with them." Which means he won't be returning to Gainesville until after the ‘dead' period starts next Saturday. "We'll get back there just a couple of days before Christmas, probably. And for me, I need to get back and start looking a little bit at my involvement in the team for the national championship game. I'll immerse myself when we get back in Oklahoma.

"It's been a crazy pace but that's what I expected coming in here right now. You're not to going to get it all done in one day. I guess as coach you're paranoid all the time so I'm trying to go as fast and hard as I can constantly. There's a lot of things we have to get done, and right now my focus has been on getting the staff in place and making sure all the recruits were talked to and are excited still about coming here."

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