Mullen visit brings a crowd|College football

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen’s has one key message to the MSU faithful on his Vicksburg visit on Tuesday.

Fill up the stadium this fall and don’t forget to bring a friend.

The first-year coach, fresh off his first spring practice and the biggest attendance in a spring game in state history, spoke Tuesday at the Vicksburg Country Club before a near standing-room only crowd.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

The coach is on a 17-city Road Dawgs tour that will take him all over the state and to stops in Dallas, Houston, New Orleans and Huntsville, Ala. as well.

The former Florida offensive coordinator and long-time fixture on Florida coach Urban Meyer’s staff followed Meyer to Bowling Green, Utah and Florida before taking over the Bulldogs on Dec. 10.

Mullen was full of praise for those in the crowd that made the trip for the Maroon-White game on April 18, which brought 31,000 fans to Starkville. The game was the centerpiece of the “Super Bulldog Weekend.”

“It was fantastic,” Mullen said of the turnout. “You just felt the excitement on campus.”

One positive of the weekend, according to Mullen, was the effect the turnout had on his team. With the club learning a new offense, a new defense and a new practice format, it made for a stressful spring on his new charges, according to Mullen.

Mullen believes that the crowd gave his team a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

“It was our best practice of the spring,” Mullen said. “Everyone was tired of being yelled at and screamed at by me. They go to the weight room and they have Coach (Matt) Balis yelling and screaming at them. At practice, the coaches are yelling and screaming at them. Eventually, that gets tiring. But we told them that if they work, they will be rewarded.

“And they were. They were going to go out in front of their friends and family and Mississippi State fans to play in a spring game. But they weren’t told that it was going to be that big a crowd. The energy they played with was incredible. Instead of me yelling and screaming at them, they had 31,000 fans cheering for them.”

According to Mullen, the effect of a crowded house for a glorified scrimmage not only influenced fans and his own team, but recruits from several sports on hand as well.

“We’ve got students that are going to come to Mississippi State because of the great support you showed up there,” Mullen said. “We just promoted our university. When people from around the country take notice of what we have here, it will explode because of the people that are here. It’s not always about a Jumbotron or new carpet in the locker room. It’s about the people at the university.”

Mullen talked about the new offense the team will run in the fall. It will be a departure from the previous regime’s run first, run second and run third mentality as the Bulldogs go to the spread that Meyer and Mullen perfected at Florida.

“We’re going to spread the defense out, make them defend the whole field and create advantageous matchups — be it a wide receiver, a running back, a tight end, a fullback,” Mullen said. “But we’re going to be 50-50 run/pass.”

As for the spring, it slaked Mullen’s thirst for a big splash, but it was only a taste.

“If we can get 31,000 up for a spring game, why can’t we have 55,000 for every home game?” Mullen asked. “We’ve got the best home schedule in college football. The best teams in the country are coming to Starkville. Why can’t we have 55,000 for every home game? I want 55,000 at every home game and more banging on the gates trying to get in, so I can go to Greg (Byrne, MSU athletics director) and say we need a bigger stadium.”

MSU opens the season Sept. 5 against Jackson State in Starkville.


Contact Steve Wilson at