By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Dan Mullen was as shocked as anyone when news of Urban Meyer’s resignation broke Wednesday afternoon.
Mullen said he wasn’t aware that Meyer was stepping down at Florida until the Daily Journal informed him via text message of the reports breaking at the time.
Mullen’s reaction: “Wow.”
Mullen’s name, of course, is already at the top of the list of potential candidates to replace Meyer. He was mentioned last December when Meyer briefly resigned, citing health reasons.
When asked if he would be interested in the Florida opening, Mullen said, “Happy at State.” He declined further comment.
Mullen worked under Meyer from 2001-08 at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida, where he was offensive coordinator and helped the Gators win two BCS national championships.
Florida’s offense has taken a dip this season, and offensive coordinator Steve Addazio has come under fire from fans and media.
Mullen’s already been a hot commodity, with reports this week saying he’s been in contact with Miami about its opening. On Sunday, he denied any interest in leaving Starkville.
“The only administrator I’ve talked to at any university about coaching football is (MSU athletics director) Scott Stricklin,” he said then. “There’s a lot of great things that I think we can get done here at Mississippi State that I want to accomplish here at Mississippi State, and I plan on being the head coach here for a long time.”
MSU is 8-4 and ranked No. 21 in the country heading into a Jan. 1 Gator Bowl date with Michigan.
Mullen later issued a statement regarding Meyer: “Urban has been a tremendous ambassador for college football and the sport will certainly miss him. He has been a great mentor and friend to me throughout my career and I hope he’s able to enjoy time with his family.”
Stricklin declined to comment on “speculation” about Mullen’s status and held to a policy of not commenting on whether other schools are interested in the coach.
He did have this to say on Twitter on Wednesday night: “Every one calm down, take a deep breath and book hotel rooms in Jacksonville. Speculation of this nature is the price of success.”
Stricklin has strongly hinted that Mullen will get a raise – his base salary is $1.2 million. Mullen’s contract, which currently runs through December of 2013, does not have a buyout clause.
When asked last week about what it takes to keep a coach like Mullen around, Stricklin said, “I think it’s good to be aggressive in how you deal with that.”
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or firstname.lastname@example.org.