By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – Dan Mullen finished 5-7 during his first season at Mississippi State but went 24-15 over the next three, guiding the Bulldogs to a bowl game each year during that span.
That streak is now in jeopardy as MSU must win its final two games to break even and reach bowl eligibility. The Bulldogs are on the road this weekend facing Arkansas in Little Rock then return home for the Egg Bowl against Ole Miss on Thanksgiving.
“If we win the next two games and finish 6-6, that doesn’t seem like a banner season,” Mullen said. “But we will have won against Arkansas in the state of Arkansas for the first time in the history of the university. We’d have gone to four straight bowl games for the first time. Putting it in historical context, there’s still an awful lot of things that this team can accomplish.”
State has lost three straight games and all six losses on the year have come to opponents currently ranked inside the top 18.
Mullen has been around the Southeastern Conference long enough to know that there is a very fine line between being successful and being shown the door.
“I’ve been on the hot seat for five years now,” Mullen said. “That’s just how it is when you’re coaching in the SEC. If we’d have won Saturday night, you could go over to Tuscaloosa and (Nick Saban) would be on the hot seat. You’re about a game away in this league from that situation.”
Coming or going
It was not long ago that Mullen was considered one of the nation’s top young coaches and saw his name associated with several high profile coaching vacancies. That momentum has tempered some with the Bulldogs struggles down the stretch in 2012 and so far this fall.
“You’re either out the door because you’re winning or on your way out the door because you’re losing,” Mullen said. “I guess you’d rather be out the door because you’re winning than losing. I’ve heard both people’s opinion around here but I’d take the winning over the losing. But I’m still here and planning on being here for a long time.”