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Better Know a Coach: Dan Mullen

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If I let you win tonight, I can keep that 90% success rate against you when I take the Georgia job.  Deal?
If I let you win tonight, I can keep that 90% success rate against you when I take the Georgia job. Deal?
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

So, we've covered two of the early rumored top candidates in Kirby Smart and Tom Herman, and now on to a third member of the supposed A list for Greg McGarity. That name is Dan Mullen, currently running the program down in Starkville, who formerly worked under Urban Meyer in Florida when McGarity was assistant AD there.

The 43 year old from New Hampshire played tight end at Ursinus College, and got his coaching career started soon after his playing career ended taking WR coaching jobs at a pair of FCS schools in New York, first Wagner College and then Columbia.  In 1998, he took a grad assistant spot on Paul Pasqualoni's Big East champion Syracuse team, before bolting to Notre Dame in the following season for another grad assistant gig.

It was in South Bend where he got to know a young, up and coming WR coach named Urban Meyer.  When the now Ohio State head man got his first head coaching job at Bowling Green in 2001, he hired Mullen to be his QB coach.  They bounced together from Bowling Green to Utah two years later, where Mullen continued his duties as QB coach with eventual #1 NFL pick Alex Smith (currently starting for the Kansas City Chiefs ahead of Aaron Murray).  When Meyer landed Florida two years after getting the Utah job, he again brought Mullen along with him, but this time added OC duties to his QB coach title (their OC in Utah, Mike Sanford, took the UNLV head coaching job that off season).

It was there that Mullen's star began to shine, as he won a pair of national titles with Chris Leak and Tim Tebow.  It was after that second title, and 10 years coaching alongside Meyer, eight as his QB coach and another four as his offensive coordinator, that Mullen went to Starkville, Mississippi to build his own program.

The Bulldogs hired Mullen to replace Sly Croom, and Mullen immediately began to upgrade their record.  After just one bowl appearance in 5 years under Croom (and that the only season they won more than four games), Mullen has been to a bowl in all but his first season in Starkville.  Mediocrity may be what he's done best there, but this is Mississippi State we are talking about.  Mullen's win totals have been steady, 5-7 at first, then 9-4, 7-6, 8-5, 7-6, 10-3, and this season going 8-4, giving him a currently 54-35 record overall going 26-30 in SEC play.  Last season's 10-3 effort was the only time he's finished outside the bottom half of the SEC West.

Mullen is a good coach, and has done good work with QBs wherever he's been (you know, kind of like the last guy).    He runs a spread offense, that utilizes their QBs legs regularly, and attempts to combine power running with big passing plays.  He's lost 3 of his last 4 to in-state rival Ole Miss, but is 4-3 overall against them in his 7 seasons.  Mullen has never beaten Alabama, is 1-6 against LSU, 3-4 vs. Auburn, and 4-3 vs. Arkansas.  The man has gone 13-4 against the SEC East, including 1-1 vs. Florida and Georgia, but then again he's gotten to play Kentucky 7 times as Mississippi St's annual eastern foe (7-0 there at least).  Then again, he's 0-2 against Georgia Tech having lost to them in his first season as a head coach before losing in last year's Orange Bowl 49-34.

The limitations of the program in Starkville probably can't be understated, and Mullen deserves credit for getting them to a consistent 8/9 win level.  But to say the Georgia fan base would likely start looking at Greg McGarity for their next #fire campaign immediately upon announcing the only still employed coach of an SEC Bulldog team as Richt's replacement would also be an understatement.  And another way to put it would be that hire would make whoever holds the fire insurance policy on McGarity's house review the fine print on the contract.