Time and again, Mullen has expressed how content he is in Starkville. Following his first season as Mississippi State head coach, in which the Bulldogs went 5-7, he said, "I'm extremely happy here. I have no interest in leaving. My family's very happy here.
"So I think our guys that we recruit look and say, 'We can build something special with the in-state talent if we can recruit the top players in the state of Mississippi.'"
Last December, after receiving a contract extension and raise, Mullen said, "I want to be at Mississippi State, and Mississippi State wants me. So everybody ends up happy."
On Tuesday, as reports surfaced linking Mullen to the opening at Penn State, a reporter asked him what his message would be to MSU fans worried about him leaving.
"Same thing I've always said to them: I'm very happy here."
Now, being happy in Starkville doesn't mean Mullen couldn't be even happier somewhere else. And for all the turmoil engulfing Penn State right now, he does have strong connections to that school. His dad graduated there, and Mullen grew up a big PSU fan.
A lot of people can't fathom him turning down a job offer from the folks in State College. Sure, the NCAA is investigating and could bring down the hammer, but that's no guarantee. Even with all that going on, the on-field product is a solid one, and it's a bit easier to win games in the Big Ten than in the SEC Western division.
Plenty of support
But who's to say Mullen can't be happy at MSU? He seems to relish the challenge of competing in the SEC, even if he is 3-12 against division foes. At least those three wins all came against Ole Miss.
What Mullen has at MSU right now is the full support of the administration and fans, and there's a lot to be said for that. There's less pressure to win a championship than at Penn State, which means he has more time to accomplish that goal.
You can make a really good argument that winning an SEC or national title is an unrealistic goal at a place like MSU. You can argue that the best move for Mullen's career would be to go to Penn State, or some other higher profile program.
As I've said before, the more of these jobs that pass by without Mullen leaving, the more likely it is he'll actually stick around for the long term. A man in his position, with a chance to climb the ladder, is sending a message when he stays put.
He's saying he's in a happy place, so why leave it?
Brad Locke (firstname.lastname@example.org) covers Mississippi State for the Daily Journal and blogs daily at NEMS360.com.