Mississippi State players don’t have game vs. Mullen, UF circled

Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald speaks to reporters during day 3 of SEC Media Days at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta Wednesday. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

ATLANTA — No matter how much Mississippi State and new coach Joe Moorhead try, there’s seemingly no ducking and dodging questions regarding Dan Mullen and his approaching return to Starkville this season.

But Wednesday’s appearance at SEC Media Days was intended to highlight the team coming back and Moorhead’s new regime rather than dwell on the past and Mullen’s departure for Florida after nine seasons at the helm of MSU.

Moorhead didn’t mention his predecessor’s name in his appearance on the main floor at the College Football Hall of Fame, despite being asked about the group Mullen left behind and the job he did, and the Bulldogs players downplayed the importance of the showdown with the Gators on Sept. 29

“It was great to play for Mullen,” senior quarterback Nick Fitzgerald said, “but I’m really excited to play for coach Moorhead.”

Although Fitzgerald did later give Mullen credit, because he “really taught me the game of football,” the two other Bulldogs in attendance didn’t heap praise on the 46-year-old Mullen, choosing instead to focus on the here and now.

“Right now our team mindset is just getting ready for Fall camp. The leaders on the team have just been preaching one game at time, you know, we can’t get too far ahead in the schedule,” senior outside linebacker Gerri Green said. “When that game comes it’s going to be an exciting game, it’s going to be a fun game. It’s an SEC opponent so you know it’s a game we want to win, but this is our mindset towards them all.”

Asked if there’s any additional excitement regarding Mullen’s return, Green acknowledged there will be, but that it’s because Florida is an SEC Eastern Division opponent, and one that doesn’t make the rounds often in Starkville.

However, Green is unsure on how the MSU fans and the city of Starkville will receive Mullen upon his return, but he stressed Mullen’s nearly decade-long tenure at the university and the accomplishments that came with it should be celebrated rather than jeered.

“I don’t know (how Mullen will be received). He was a great coach, he did a lot of great things for Mississippi State University, so I think the fans will probably cheer him on,” Green said. “It’s football, things like coaches changing happens all the time.”

It’s a sentiment safety Mark McLaurin echoed, saying he won’t have a better grasp of the emotions involved in the matchup until that day arrives. Until then, McLaurin and Co. are stressing the company motto: handle what’s in front and don’t look ahead or back.

“We just are all processing everything, just taking it one game at a time,” McLaurin said. “We know it’s a big-time SEC game, and we’re just going to have to wait until that game comes.”


  1. Agreed Rob and Jaws. It’s a future past perspective for both teams.

    It’s impressive what Mullen did at Florida as an OC. It’s on the edge of being unbelievable what he accomplished at MSU in his first HBC gig. Gators should be feeling a little giddy about the future.

    Coach Mullen, our players and program looked great at SEC Media Days.

  2. I’m impressed how well Mullen did at MSU. It can’t be easy to recruit 4 and 5 star players to come play in Starkville unless their from that area and want to stay close to home. But with Florida, he should be able to recruit them way easier.
    That is why I am really excited about the future of Gator football.

    • There’s a lot of truth in that, Steve, but it’s going to be a lot more awkward for MSU than it will be for the Gators. I think by then the Florida defense has gelled and the offense opens it up a little more. Well, if the O-line has improved to at least SEC average, that is. If that’s the case, I don’t think MSU will be able to hold back our wide receivers and running backs for long, no matter who the QB is or isn’t. Fla 35 — MSU 21.

  3. No way in hell their fans are going to cheer him on his return. They’ve done nothing but bash him and criticize his offense since he left. It’s actually quite hilarious how salty they’ve been considering he left that program with the best roster they’ve ever had and set up for success, unlike how Meyer left here. Sad thing is they don’t even realize their program is a stepping stone program and it’s shocking he stayed as long as he did. The same thing will happen with Moorhead if he strings together a few good seasons. He’ll be out the door for a better job faster than Mullen was.

    • That’s right — the fans have generally trashed him, and that’s to be expected since no matter what, they’ll always see his departure as a betrayal. But I think at the player level, that’s a whole ‘nuther thing. It will be awkward for many of them. That won’t be the difference tho.

  4. MSU badly wants to beat everyone. Leading up to the game, it will be hyped and someone will probably make a comment that someone else will put up on their “bulletin board” and twitter will go crazy and the fans and media will make this the deciding game on the direction of both programs. Ultimately, though it will only impact the game because of the familiarity with the offense/defense and the crowd.

    The players aren’t going to be thinking about Dan Mullen before or after each play. They are going to be thinking about the guy lined up across from them. It will be a tough game for us but only because, at the moment, Mullen left a better coached group of players at MSU than he inherited here.

  5. I live 2 hours from stark Vegas and am surrounded by Mississippi State fans. Believe me that place is going to be rocking. These guys have been thoroughly coached in coach speak. Bring your ear plugs them cow bells are loud. I went to one state game last year (my first) the bells are annoying.

    Go GATORS beat the snot out of them. Most around here have us 4th in the east. I’ll be there in orange and blue.