Mullen: 'This week is a special week'

Dan Mullen took a field microphone following last season's Mississippi State win against Ole Miss in Starkville. He talked about a number of things to the crowd of mostly MSU fans that remained.

What was remembered by many was that he pointed out that his football program was on the rise and that the opposition that day was not. Mullen explained his comments again on Sunday in a teleconference of reporters.

"I think it's something I read earlier in the week (a year ago), that some other school was claiming that they were the one that was on the rise in the league. And I just wanted to make sure it was clear after that game that it was not the correct statement, that there was somebody else that was on the rise."

Mullen said he hadn't actually planned on doing it over a public address system.

"I didn't plan on getting the microphone," he said. "I planned on celebrating with the team. Somebody handed me a microphone and said please say something to the crowd. So that was spur of the moment. But that (statement) was what was on my mind."

Dan Mullen

Mullen said this when asked about his relationship with Houston Nutt.

"You know I don't have a great relationship with Houston and not for any matter in know, it's very cordial when we meet," Mullen said. "Obviously being rivals at the schools that we're at, we don't spend a lot of time unless it's at a function that we're trying to help the people or do good things in the state of Mississippi.

"I have a lot of respect for Houston as a coach," he continued. "You look at his record and the career he's had and the amount of games he's won in the Southeastern Conference, both at the school up north and at Arkansas, that I have a lot of respect for him. And I think he's an excellent football coach. But I think just the nature of the schools that we're at maybe hinders our personal relationship just a little bit."

Mullen said when asked what he knew about Ole Miss this season, "I don't know about them, but I'll tell you what. Last year's game shows you that whatever your record coming into this game means nothing when you get into this game. Our focus is obviously on our program, and we're moving in the right direction. We're looking to build, not short-term, we're looking to build long-term success and long-term consistency and a winning program here. Obviously a win and keeping our Egg Bowl trophy here would be a big step in the right direction."

Mullen talked some football also. He said a significant factor, as with all teams, is turnovers per game as it compares to wins and losses.

"In our four losses, 12 or 14 turnovers," he said. "In our seven wins only five. It is something that goes hand in hand with winning. In the Southeastern Conference where you're going to play tough games that come down to the wire, which you do a lot in this conference, it's those little things that make a difference."

Mullen said Jeremiah Masoli presents challenges for any team.

"Anytime you're playing an athletic quarterback, and I've got to see them on film, I haven't really watched the game films yet, but I've seen them on TV a couple of times this year. He makes plays and keeps plays alive. You can have a play contained, and all of a sudden he makes a guy miss and keeps a play alive and makes something happen out there on that field. He's won a lot of football games in his career, obviously. Last year he was the Pac-10 player of the year. So he's a talented football player that has the ability to create on his own, and I think that is one of the things that will be a challenge for us, to make sure we contain him and not let him create too much."

Mullen said this week is big for his team and school.

"All of that to me this week is irrelevant," he said when asked about how a win or loss this week might affect which postseason bowl MSU attends. "We'll worry about a bowl game, and we'll worry about what bowl game at a much later date. Like I said, it didn't matter if we're 11-0 or 0-11 or 7-4 coming into this week, this week is a special week for our program, a special week for Mississippi State fans, and it's one we look forward to year ‘round. And that's what's most important about this game."

Mullen was asked if he was interested at all in how the Auburn-Alabama game "shakes out" Friday afternoon.

"Not really," he said. "I'm much more concerned to see how our matchup over the school up north shakes out."

Mullen was asked how many times this week he thought he would say "the school up north" when referring to Ole Miss.

"As many times as people ask me who we're playing this week," he said.

So who are you playing this week, Dan, came the next question.

"The school up north," he said.

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