STARKVILLE – After one season as head coach, Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen has a record of five wins, seven losses. An impressive debut, considering how young he is – 37 – and how young his Bulldogs were.
But more important than 5-7 is another record on Mullen’s ledger: 1-0.
That’s his mark against Ole Miss, or to use Mullen’s terminology, “the school up north.” When MSU beat the Rebels, 41-27, in this year’s Egg Bowl, it cemented his place in Bulldog lore and became the top story for MSU athletics in 2009.
While a bowl game would have been nice, senior tailback Anthony Dixon summed up the sentiment of the rivalry after he rushed for 133 yards against the Rebels.
“I think it would’ve been bigger than the bowl game, regardless of where we would’ve been,” he said.
Mullen, a native of New Hampshire who used to watch the Egg Bowl when it was a ESPN’s annual Thanksgiving night game, put a big emphasis on the rivalry when he arrived. In the Bulldogs’ locker room is a clock he installed that counts down to the game.
Winning the game brings with it many spoils besides the venerable Golden Egg trophy:
– It gives the winner an edge in recruiting, however slight. And in the recruiting game, every edge is crucial.
– Even though it was Mullen’s first season and outside expectations were not exceptionally high, it’s never too early for a coach to build up some equity in a profession with little job security.
– As Mullen has stated, it gives the team a “boost” – momentum and extra motivation – heading into offseason workouts.
Miss. State Top 10
1. Football team wins Egg Bowl to cap Dan Mullen’s first season as coach.
2. Men’s basketball team makes unexpected run to SEC Tournament title, reaches NCAAs.
3. Freshman basketballer Renardo Sidney engaged in epic eligibility battle with NCAA.
4. Senior tailback Anthony Dixon runs into MSU record books, becomes career leader in every major rushing category.
5. Women’s basketball team reaches second round of NCAA tournament.
6. Senior Jarvis Varnado passes Shaquille O’Neal to become SEC’s all-time blocks leader.
7. Softball coach Jay Miller, aided by MSU catcher Chelsea Bramlett, leads Team USA to 2009 World Cup title.
8. MSU shatters school record for home football attendance, with 376,544 fans over seven games.
9. John Cohen makes debut as his alma mater’s baseball coach.
10. John Riek, a 7-foot-1 freshman hoopster from the Sudan, lands in Starkville.
Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal