Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen joined the rest of the league coaches on the SEC Teleconference on Thursday.
Here is a transcript of Mullen’s time on the call:
Mullen: “We’re really excited to get back out there on the field to go play. It’s been quite a while since we’ve had a game. Guys year round work. The players have gone through an offseason conditioning, spring ball and summer conditioning. You work year round for 12 opportunities to go play the game.
“I know our players, our coaches and me, I’m as excited as I’ve ever been to get back out there, run out of that tunnel and have that foot hit the ball to kick this season off and go play some football.”
It seems there has been more turnover at quarterback than ever before. Do you believe it’s a generational thing or is it just covered differently than it was in the past?
Mullen: “I just think there’s a lot more attention. There are more kids transferring and leaving schools probably now than there were years ago overall, not just at quarterback. I think that is happening a little bit more but I also think it’s covered much greater that it used to be before.
“Everybody views it as a negative. But I think we viewed it as one of the deals. I met with the four quarterbacks battling through spring and after spring. They all felt like they had a great, equal opportunity to compete and win the job.
“I met with all four of them and to be honest, to a man they would’ve told you they wouldn’t have expected all four of us to be here in the fall to start the first game unless I was going to play all four of them in the first game and it’s that dead even of a competition because all four of them were underclassmen.
“It’s a position where generally you don’t rotate an awful lot. At wide receiver, we’ll play eight to nine wide receivers. We’ll play hopefully 10 d-linemen if we can. Quarterback generally doesn’t rotate that much.
“I think guys look and want to play. They’ll say their opportunity doesn’t look great here and want to be in a situation where they have an opportunity to play, get on the field and go play the game that they love.”
Do you have a policy on players legally owning a handgun?
Mullen: No, we have a no weapons policy on the team. I don’t think there’s any need for our guys to carry weapons but also we live in Mississippi and we have a lot of guys that go hunting on the weekend or when they have a day off in the fall. I try to separate the two.
“Obviously it’s a felony crime to possess a weapon on a college campus. We make sure they understand that. We explain to our guys that if they’re in a situation where they’re carrying a handgun, they probably need to try and avoid those situations.
“Now obviously hunting and all the other extracurricular activities that our guys do can trump some of that. But they need to make sure they leave that stuff at home with all their hunting supplies.”
Is that a conversation you’ve had to have more?
Mullen: “No, it’s the conversation I’ve had since the day I became the head coach. It’s always been in place as part of our core values system, a no weapons policy.”
With this being the final game of a three-game series with South Alabama, can you talk about the progression you’ve seen from them from 2012 until now?
Mullen: “They were a tough team and played hard in every one of the games we’ve played against them. I think (Joey Jones) had done a good job of building and developing that program. He’s been going and recruiting and developing talent. That’s the key to a program I think.
“It’s hard to get a quick fix for a program. If you look at how he’s been able to develop some homegrown players, develop high school kids and get them through the program and continue to improve, I think he’s built a pretty solid program.
“I think the last time we played them it was the biggest game ever in Mobile, or billed that way anyway. They had a great crowd and a great atmosphere. He’s helped build that program.”
Are you surprised Tim Tebow is giving it a go with baseball?
Mullen: “Nothing Tim does surprises me. I know he’s the ultimate competitor. He’s a guy that loves to compete so I bet he’d give just about anything a go.”