ESPN’s Joe Schad linked Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen to the Penn State coaching opening early Tuesday. In a word? Baffling. It reeked of Mullen being unhappy that his name wasn’t being mentioned at all with any of the coaching openings around the country, and floating his name to Schad as if to remind everyone, HEY, REMEMBER ME, I WENT TO A NEW YEAR’S DAY BOWL GAME 11 MONTHS AGO!
Then, a TV station in Mississippi took Schad’s report a step further: “Sources close to Mississippi State University’s program have said that football coach Dan Mullen is close to signing a deal to replace Joe Paterno at Penn State.” That, of course, is even more laughable. Penn State’s new President doesn’t have an AD in place yet. How could someone be close to signing a deal to when he doesn’t even know who his boss would be? (Going back to Schad for a moment: He didn’t break any news during the Penn State scandal that I’m aware of, but suddenly he’s got sources at the school who are aware what the President is thinking? Interesting.)
Mullen’s reaction to the TV report, though, was priceless:
“It’s the most irresponsible reporting that I’ve ever heard of … I blame it on rival institutions trying to ruin our recruiting which we have dominated in this state over the past three years.”
Mississippi State’s biggest rivals are Ole Miss, Kentucky, and Alabama. Mississippi is going through its own coaching search. Kentucky doesn’t quite know what it wants to do with Joker Phillips (though it sounds like he saved his job with the win over Tennessee). Alabama’s Nick Saban is lobbying hard to make sure voters get the Tide into the Championship game (Hey Nick – settle down … you’re in).
Let’s everyone give a slow golf clap to Dan Mullen, who accomplished what he wanted: He manufactured a story to get his name in the lights for 24 hours just as the college football coaching carousel begins to heat up. Well done, Mr. Mullen. [Ledger]