STARKVILLE – Every offseason since 2009, Dan Mullen has heard his name associated with just about every major college coaching vacancy.
It has become somewhat of a tradition for Mullen to see where he is going to land next.
There was Michigan, Penn State, Minnesota, Colorado, USC along with the Florida and Miami jobs opening twice, just to name a few.
“Every year in December I’m always going somewhere,” Mullen said. “They always tell me I’m going somewhere. You’re going to this school or you’re going to that school. If it’s on the internet then it must be true.”
Yet eight years later, Mullen is still at Mississippi State where he has guided the Bulldogs to unparallelled success in the program’s history. It’s a place that he and his wife, Megan, and two children – Canon and Breelyn – call home.
“Trust me in this, I love being the head coach at Mississippi State,” Mullen said. “Both my kids were born here in Starkville and I have no intention of ever leaving. But it’s not really my decision whether or not I leave. It’s much more (the fans), the president and the athletic director’s. I’m going to be here as long as they want me to be the head coach at Mississippi State.”
Mullen even admits that very few of those rumored destination schools ever got as far as a conversation between the two parties. There was one year that he even shared a laugh in a on-campus meeting with MSU director of athletics Scott Stricklin about supposedly being in Boulder, Colorado interviewing for a job at that very moment.
“It’s really an honor when all of that stuff comes out,” Mullen said. “It’s an honor because people all around America are looking at what’s going on in Starkville, Mississippi and saying that’s what we want.”
Mullen has amassed a 55-35 record during his tenure at State including a school record six straight bowl appearances. He sits third on the school’s all-time wins list and already owns its most bowl victories.
Mullen also led the Bulldogs to their first ever No. 1 national ranking in 2014, a spot Mississippi State held for five weeks. He has also won nine or more games in three of the last six years, something that had only been done three times in 112 years prior.
With success, expectations among the fan base have changed as well.
“The questions have changed through the years,” Mullen said. “When I first came here eight years ago, people told me if we could get to a bowl game every once in a while, that’d be fantastic. Now it’s not if we get to a bowl game. Now fans are wanting us to get to those bowls where it’s warmer like South Beach.”