May 31, 2009
Greg Byrne is becoming more confident that Dan Mullen is the right man to be Mississippi State''s head football coach
Each time Byrne, Mississippi State''s athletic director, sees Mullen in a public setting or at an official gathering, he''s impressed with the way the coach handles the situation.
After spending time together last week at the Southeastern Conference Spring Meetings in Destin, Fla., Byrne felt the need to pin another rose on Mullen.
Byrne said Mullen really didn''t act like a first-year head coach in the SEC.
"He''s done a nice job in the coaches meetings and as we met with the athletic directors," Byrne said. "He really understands (the purpose of the meetings) well and we are very fortunate to have him."
Mississippi State announced Mullen''s hiring on Dec. 11, 2008 to replace Sylvester Croom.
Since then, Mullen has been busy traveling in Mississippi and across the Southeast in an attempt to build support for the football program. He has made many public appearances while still managing his staff, recruiting and also taking time to conduct MSU''s spring practice.
Byrne said Mullen appeared very comfortable at the SEC Meetings because of his four years as offensive coordinator at the University of Florida.
"He has some existing relationships within the SEC so he''s not a stranger to the league at all," Byrne said.
Due to the structure of the SEC Meetings, there wasn''t much time for Mullen to visit with some of the other coaches. He did get to see former boss and Florida head coach Urban Meyer, but the reunion didn''t last long.
"Not a whole lot, but just a little bit," Mullen said. "Since we''re mostly in meetings, it''s not a big social event. There''s not a lot of social time put on the calendar with the schedule."
Mullen said the role of the coaches during the meetings were primarily to listen and give some input on issues raised.
Even though there were times for the coaches to speak, Mullen didn''t feel the need to say much because the SEC knows how to take care of itself.
"They do a great job of keeping everybody going in the right direction," Mullen said. "It''s all about that and getting the coaches together to voice their opinions on what rules we approve or not."
Athletic directors met with men''s and women''s basketball and football coaches during the midweek.
Mullen, along with other MSU administrators and coaches, returned to Starkville on Friday, while Byrne and MSU president Mark Keenum came back Saturday morning.
Byrne and Keenum met Friday and went over a few legislative items.
The athletic directors and presidents from the 12 league schools discussed many areas, but the main issue was moving forward with the television contract.
"We talked about the deals with ESPN and CBS and we''re excited about getting that implemented," Byrne said.
The SEC, ESPN and CBS reached 15-year contracts last August and the league got together last week primarily to make sure everyone was on the same page.
When the deal was announced, SEC commissioner Mike Slive said the strength of the league combined with the recognition of its television partners will help expand national coverage.
"It will make the SEC the most nationally-televised conference in the nation," Slive said.
On the final day of the meetings, the SEC announced that it will distribute an average $11.1 millon this fiscal year as part of budget revenue sharing.
"The league has always done a good job of sharing equally and that trend is continuing," Byrne said.
MSU''s current budget is just shy of $32 million.
Another issue that was discussed was football graduate assistant coaches and how many can be on the field. Byrne said the number will remain at two.
There was also a vote to amend the scheduling of practices to reflect that a team can''t hold a workout anymore from 12 a.m. until 5 a.m.
Other subjects considered were the structure of basketball scheduling to maximize the rating performance index, football postseason bowl contracts and the best way to use money considering the faltering economy.
"They''ve been very good meetings," Byrne said. "We talked about a wide-range of areas from recruiting to just having everyone getting along in the league. Obviously that is important for us."
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