A day after his name was thrown into another coaching search, Mississippi State head football coach Dan Mullen again did his best to squash rumors of him leaving Starkville.
At the Gator Bowl news conference Thursday in Jacksonville, Fla., Mullen addressed reports of his candidacy for the vacant jobs at the University of Miami and the University of Florida as straightforward as he did Wednesday, when he said he was “committed” to MSU.
“I haven”t had contact with anybody,” Mullen told local media. “The only person I”ve talked to is sitting right here at the end of the table (MSU athletics director Scott Stricklin). I am very happy at Mississippi State University. I have no plans on going anywhere.”
Mullen and the Bulldogs begin bowl preparation at 4 p.m. today in the first of a week”s worth of open practices. MSU will cap the open sessions with a scrimmage next Thursday at Davis Wade Stadium.
Mullen will welcome the return to the practice field after spending the last week redirecting his reported destinations back to Starkville.
“It”s kind of annoying because I have to answer a lot of questions that don”t pertain to our football team, and that”s really all I have for,” Mullen said. “I haven”t even considered or spent one second thinking about it.”
Mullen admitted being linked to jobs at national championship caliber programs is “flattering” as it means he”s having success leading the Bulldogs.
“My wife an I are so happy at Mississippi State, so proud of our program,” Mullen told First Coast News. “That”s our number one concern.”
A contract extension is in the works for Mullen, though how much of a raise he”s set to receive is unknown.
Again, he played down links to other programs as “media speculation,” hoping to avoid future inquiries while his extension is being worked on at MSU.
“In the coaching profession, we deal with reality,” Mullen said. “My reality is making sure our football team is ready to play a great game on January 1st, that our players get good grades and we recruit and build to continue our great success at Mississippi State.”
Public can go to practices
Starting at 4 p.m. today, Mississippi State fans have a chance to watch the Bulldogs practice in preparation for their Gator Bowl opponent Michigan.
The Bulldogs will being practice at 12:45 p.m. Saturday and 6 p.m. Sunday. Next week”s schedule will include 1:30 p.m. sessions on Monday and Tuesday, 3 p.m. Wednesday practice and a 5:30 p.m. scrimmage at Davis Wade Stadium on Thursday.
MSU faces Michigan on Jan. 1 in Jacksonville. Game time is set for 12:30 p.m. at EverBank Field.