Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Coaching Candidate: Dan Mullen

Dan Mullen
Dan Mullen
Current position: Mississippi State head coach
Head coaching experience: 46-30 at Mississippi State (2009-present)
History: Mullen was born in Pennsylvania, attended high school in New Hampshire, and played tight end at Ursinus College, a D-III school in Pennsylvania. He was Urban Meyer's right-hand man as quarterbacks coach at Bowling Green, Utah, and Florida, serving as offensive coordinator at the latter. His charges have included Josh Harris at BGSU, Alex Smith at Utah, and both Chris Leak and Tim Tebow at Florida. Mullen now works with Dak Prescott, who was a 3-star and the #17 dual-threat quarterback coming out of high school and was a Heisman candidate for much of the season. Mississippi State is 10-2 this season, but Mullen has never lost fewer than 4 games in any year until now.
My thoughts: Mullen is a bit of a flash in the pan this year because of his team's record; the 10-2 record looks nice right now, and he was undefeated through 9 games this year, but he's consistently won between 7 and 9 games. He is in a bit of an unfair position at Mississippi State, however. He has to fight with Ole Miss inside the state, not to mention other big-time SEC programs that have been producing high-level NFL talent for several years (Florida, LSU, Alabama, etc.). Unfortunately for Mississippi State, they're not a long-term destination and it would behoove Mullen to jump while the team is cresting, rather than waiting for a fall-off. With his roots in Pennsylvania and the northeast, he would probably do a solid job of recruiting in Big Ten country. .
Likelihood of coming to Michigan: Mullen has largely been devoid of scandal talk during his time at Mississippi State, until a couple weeks ago when he took away a scholarship offer from Chason Virgil and offered him a grayshirt opportunity instead. That ruffled some feathers, but Mullen is unable to comment publicly on the reason for pulling the scholarship (Virgil is now committed to SMU). That will be a small hurdle for Mullen to leap over if he gets hired elsewhere. Otherwise, he would seem to be a good fit. The Bulldogs have been consistent with running the ball, which Michigan fans would love. As I mentioned above, the time is now for him. If I were Michigan's administration, he would be very high on my list.

My wish list:
1. Bob Stoops
2. Dan Mullen
3. Les Miles
4. Greg Schiano
5. Pat Narduzzi
6. Mike Shanahan


  1. Stoops over Mullin, eh?

    I'd reverse it. This is my number 1 choice, ahead of the Harbaughs.

    A QB coach/OC, used to the real deep end of the pool. Never got caught ... so far ... in the world's slimiest recruiting environment. Young.

    Who could ask for more?

    1. Stoops is a more proven commodity, and he has more roots in the Ohio area. That's what made me put him above Mullen.

    2. Right. Stoops is just as good as Mullen and more of a proven commodity with 80% winning at Oklahoma for more than a decade now. Don't get me wrong, I'd be very happy with Mullen as well -- he is relatively inexperienced that's all. I think Mullen would consistently get 10+ wins at Michigan. He'd literally go head to head with Urban Meyer and Dantonio and probably beat them.

  2. I'd much rather see a coach wit sustained success come here. It took Mullen, what, 6 years to get to this point.

    To me he seems like a sumlin, remember how much he blew up with ole johnny while he was there? Now they are just another mid of the pack SEC team. I haven't looked at their roster, but I'm sure there are lots of seniors, and Dak Prescott is Mullens johnny football. I'd like to see how long he can sustain this success. Iike in the write up here. I just think hes a flash in the pan type of coach, that will find it really difficult to maintain this type of success.
    My order
    Harbaugh(either I suppose)
    Miles(dedicated to lank)
    Yada, yada
    Hopefully we don't get this far
    Brady Hoke
    Greg Schiano (shutters)

    1. I don't think Dak Prescott is a Johnny Manziel at all. Manziel ran the ball fairly well, but Sumlin is a very QB-dependent coach. He likes to throw the ball around and spread people out, so if his personnel can't handle it, they're in trouble.

      I think what Mullen does is more sustainable. Mississippi State runs the ball well, and a running QB is difficult to deal with. Weather, timing, and experience have less to do with a system like Mullen and Urban Meyer run. It's more about lining up, winning at the line of scrimmage, and spreading out the defense to create running lanes.

      It's also very difficult to win in the SEC, and he's had a bunch of solid years without the best scenery, facilities, history, etc. to surround him.

    2. Exactly. I think people underestimate how hard it is to win at Mississippi State. Just to get to 10-2 there is miraculous. The program itself has less than .500 all-time winning rate.

    3. Oregon is barely over .500. Who the hell cares?

      I think you can make a pretty strong argument that it's harder to win at Michigan than MSU. If your definition of winning is national titles. Bo is still getting glorified here, even though he admitted he didn't care to win bowl games because it was more important to win the Big10.

    4. miss st is not an easy place to win big at. This is only the third 10-win season in the school's entire history (also 1940 and 1999). They have more 10-loss seasons (4). Maybe they're going to be the next Oregon, which didn't have its first 10-win season until Mike Belotti and really taken to the next level by Chip Kelly, but then again, the Pac10 wasn't nearly the hell that the SEC is today. You had USC, then random teams with sporadic good years that weren't really sustained.

    5. There's just not a lot of examples of coaches leaving better conferences to go to inferior ones when they are winning. Franklin left Vanderbilt, but wasn't nearly as successful or established as Mullen is.

  3. I was refering to Prescott as Mullens Manziel in the sense that once he is gone, there will probably be a fall back to earth.
    Obviously the offensive schemes and the two guys are much different from one another.
    Also I'm not trying to put Mullen down, what he has done there has been pretty amazing, no doubt. I just worry about the time he took to reach this point, and if he will be able to keep the momentum going. Add that to the fact that we are also looking at another SEC coach, who has a much better record, and national championship. And I think you'd have to put Miles ahead of Mullen. Plus of course Les playing here.

  4. Stoops would be a major get. I'd take Mullen if we can't get Stoops.

  5. Why would Mullen leave a program performing at the top 10 RIGHT NOW, for one that might someday maybe be able to get there?

    He has publicly said he does not want to leave. Maybe BS, but there is a lot of reason to not.

    Recruiting success will follow on-field success -- so it was at Miami, Oregon, Wisconsin, etc. Yeah, he has to fight with LSU and Alabama and Florida State for recruits -- that goes for Michigan too, except Michigan can't oversign a bunch of athletic southern 3-stars and sort through them as they please, supplementing with JUCOs whenever they want.

    He has elite facilities (better than Michigan's), unanimous support from fans and media, and his system up and running.

    Mullen should use other teams interest to get a big salary bump but otherwise he is wise to stay where he is.

    I will eat a hat if he agrees to coach at Michigan.

    SMDH at these Gruden, Mullen, Payton, Sumlin "candidates", might as well add Saban and Belicick.

    1. @ Lanknows 6:44 p.m.

      Mississippi State is not a destination job. It's a stepping stone to another program. And most programs who are at the top do not lose their coach unless the coach retires. Jobs often open up when a very good program is mired in mediocrity (Michigan, Florida, Texas last year, etc.). So unless you think Dan Mullen is going to become the Bobby Bowden of Mississippi State, he's most likely going SOMEWHERE. It doesn't appear to be Florida, so where?

      With the talent and resources Michigan has, he could have Michigan fighting for Big Ten titles within a couple years. Granted, he's already reached that point at Mississippi State where he's challenging, but he just had his best year ever and still isn't in the SEC championship game.

    2. That's not a compelling answer.

      The list of coaches who leave their "not a destination job" jobs and flounder under the demands of change and instability is very long. The most prominent example happens to be the previous head coach at Michigan, now at Arizona.

      Anyway, why can't Mullen be their Bowden/Schnellenberger/Belotti/Stoops?

      Mullen may just hold onto his job and wait for the NFL to come calling. Why not? People would have said Oregon was not a "destination job" 20 years ago. Now it is.

      MSU has facilities to match anyone in the country (besides Oregon). What "resources" does Michigan have that MSU doesn't. They have more prestige and can attract recruits from California to New Jersey, but who cares when you can recruit 30 kids a year, have warm weather, easy academics, and have Florida and Texas within driving distance.

      He's fighting for national titles NOW -- why would he give that up to maybe fight for big 10 titles in a few years?

      The landscape has changed. Everybody is on TV every game. Michigan is verging on becoming Minnesota and Miss State is verging on becoming Oregon. That's hyperbole, but it's a legitimate possibility. The "not a destination job" is a thing of the past that I think only a minority of coaches and players buy into (but many sportswriters discuss.) That's why TCU and Baylor coaches say no to Michigan.

      MSU is a better situation than UofM for Mullen. The only reasons to leave are if he is mad at his AD (as RR was at WVU) or if he wants to stick it to his mentor. Neither seems to be the case.

      Look at what Florida is doing in their search...and that job is clearly superior to the Michigan job in nearly every respect. I think Michigan will have to be very lucky to land another A-list guy with no ties to the school again. It would have to pounce on an opportunity a la Rodriguez. Maybe that's happening in Oklahoma or San Francisco, but it doesn't seem to be happening in Mississippi.

    3. Well, Lank, if you want to ignore everything Magnus has said, I can always appeal to the family angle.

      Mullen is from Pennsylvania and his wife is from Ohio. This would be coming home for them. Ann Arbor is unquestionably a better environment for raising kids than Starkville, MS. It really depends on what matters to the coach, and seeing as you think Mullen's top priorities are football and professional're being a bit myopic.

      You can whine that Michigan is becoming Minnesota all you want, but no matter how bad our record is, we still get orders of magnitude more national exposure than others at that level.

    4. @BB

      I think I addressed Thunder's argument pretty directly.

      Mullen left PA a long time ago. AA is not in PA, so I'm not sure about the relevance. Mullen isn't going to hop in the car to drive to PA on weekends, if he even has any family left there.

      I've noticed that almost everybody thinks where they come from is a great place to raise children (unless it's obviously very bad.) Guessing you are from Michigan.... The Mullen family has said they are very happy in Starkville and don't want to leave. They seem sincere, though obviously anyone would leave if blown away by a far better opportunity -- I don't see Michigan as that.

      National exposure is a mixed blessing. It is not at all clear that Mullen is seeking that. Anyway, these things can change. Everybody gets national exposure these days, even MAC teams.