By David Brandt/The Associated Press
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State says it is working with the NCAA because of a “potential recruiting irregularity” in the football program, giving the Bulldogs a substantial distraction less than two weeks from their opener against Jackson State.
The school says the investigation is close to finished. NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn confirmed the NCAA and Mississippi State were “working cooperatively,” but did not have any further comment.
“That’s been going on for the last several months,” Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said following Thursday’s practice. “I’m not able to comment on any of that.”
Mississippi State receivers coach Angelo Mirando resigned Sunday, citing “unforeseen personal issues.” Mullen has not elaborated on the reason for Mirando’s resignation.
ESPN.com reported Mirando’s resignation was related to the recruitment of at least one player on the current roster. The report later says that MSU freshman defensive back Will Redmond was the subject of an NCAA interview with Redmond’s high school coach, without explicitly connecting the two issues.
Mullen said that Redmond is still practicing with the team. Mullen also was openly critical of ESPN reporter Joe Schad, who wrote the story.
“I’d try to get a little more reliable source than Joe Schad,” Mullen said.
Mississippi State opens its season with a home game against Jackson State on Sept. 1 at Davis Wade Stadium.
The Bulldogs have hired former Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster to take Mirando’s position as the receivers coach. Brewster coached the Golden Gophers from 2007 until being fired midway through the 2010 season.
Brewster was at Thursday’s practice and said the transition was going smoothly. The 51-year-old said it was “great to be back on the grass today” and that he missed coaching badly. He spent the 2011 season as a television analyst for Fox. He had recently been hired for a similar opportunity for the CBS sports network before accepting the Mississippi State job.
“Timing and opportunity in life are so special,” Brewster said. “And when the two meet — an opportunity like this comes up — it’s something I just couldn’t pass up at this point.”
Brewster will lead a veteran group of receivers, led by seniors Chad Bumphis, Arceto Clark, Brandon Heavens and Chris Smith.
Mullen said he was pleased to add someone of Brewster’s caliber on such short notice. On top of his substantial college experience, Brewster has also spent time as an NFL assistant coach with the San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos.
“To me, it’s been kind of a blur of a lot of things going on,” Mullen said. “Talking to a lot of people while we’re preparing for the season, while we’re reviewing training camp, while we’re still in practice, while we’re getting through the first day of school, while we’re getting organized to get through this process. It’s been very, very difficult. We’re extremely fortunate.”
Mullen said he didn’t think Mirando’s resignation or the NCAA’s investigation would cause any problems for his team’s focus.
“I like our leadership,” Mullen said. “I don’t see it being a distraction for our guys at all right now.”
Follow David Brandt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP