Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen joined the rest of the league’s head coaches on the SEC coaches’ teleconference to talk about the Bulldogs’ upcoming game against Kentucky.
Here is a transcript of Mullen’s time on the call…
Mullen: “We’re coming off a bye week last week so we had the opportunity to get some guys rested – both mentally and physically. I think our guys have responded this week very, very well with a good week of practice.
“They came out and got right back to work on Monday. They came out with a lot of energy and were fired up and got ready to go. It feels like a while since we’ve been out there playing a game so I know we’re ready to get back out on the field and go play a game on Saturday.”
There’s a reputation that you’ve built this roster by developing guys and evaluating well as opposed to going out and recruiting a bunch of 5-star guys. Now that you’re No. 1, does that change how you approach recruiting?
Mullen: “We won’t change our approach. We really trust our own evaluations and how we look at guys. I’ve seen guys who are supposed 5-stars that I would disagree greatly with that rating and there are guys who aren’t rated that high that should be higher.
“What we want to do is stick with what we believe in and how we evaluate players. It doesn’t mean that we don’t want 5-star players. We want everybody to be a 5-star player in our mind but we want guys who aren’t satisfied with just where they are in high school.
“Part of it is finding guys who have a chip on their shoulder and a great desire to get better once they get to college, buy into the program and work really hard to develop once they get here. That philosophy won’t change for us in recruiting.
“The exposure that our program is getting now is just opening up more doors for us to look at more prospects. Prospects around the country are certainly going to take a look at Mississippi State and they’ll see what great facilities, campus and community we have and what a great family program we have will put us in better standing with those recruits.”
During the recruiting process, are you able to discern which ones are able to handle that new success? And how are your players handling their success?
Mullen: “I think our players have handled it very, very well. When we go out recruiting, we don’t look at where you are now. We look where you’re going to be a couple of years from now within the development of the program.
“I think a lot of people in recruiting are going to tell kids whatever they want to hear. We don’t talk about that. We talk about hard work, becoming the best that you can be and working hard in the weight room and the classroom.
“It’s not just about steak dinners and pretty girls showing you around campus. It’s what the reality of the program is going to be like when you get there. Part of the character test when you talk about those things, you can look in a kid’s eyes and see that’s what they want.
“You do a lot of research on the kids at school. Most of these kids are the best or one of the best to ever play at their high school. You want to hear around school that every day he works harder than he did the day before. Those are the type of guys we want in our program.”
Having known what success looks like at Florida, has that helped at Mississippi State?
Mullen: “It’s certainly helped our staff. A lot of guys on our staff have been in that position before. The players are going to take the staff’s lead on things. They look at the coaches being very comfortable being in the position that we’re in right now and it’s much easier for them to be comfortable with the position.
“We talk about getting back to work and they look at the coaches and we haven’t changed our approach or game plan with how we prepare as coaches. We don’t expect our players to change their approach. When everybody sees that it’s more comforting for them.”