STARKVILLE — Seven wins short of becoming the winningest coach in Mississippi State football history, Dan Mullen has accepted the same job at Florida.
MSU President Mark E. Keenum released this statement Sunday confirming the news.
“We’ve built a football program at Mississippi State that has enjoyed unprecedented success over the last nine seasons,” Keenum said. “Dan Mullen has been the catalyst of that success, and we wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors. It’s a tribute to Dan and to MSU he has drawn the interest of several premier football programs around the country. Dan’s tenure at MSU coincides with my own, and we’ve had a chance to do some special things together for our loyal fans and friends.
“In anticipation of this development, MSU has already begun the process of an orderly and expeditious transition to new and exciting leadership for our football program. I have shared my vision with Athletics Director John Cohen, and I am confident John will move quickly and decisively to fill our coaching vacancy with the best possible person to build on the success of our program.”
Cohen said Sunday in a statement that running backs coach/special teams coordinator Greg Knox will be MSU’s interim head coach.
“Earlier today, Dan Mullen informed me he accepted the job as the next head football coach at the University of Florida,” Cohen said in a statement. “In their nine years here, Dan and Megan have been wonderful ambassadors to Mississippi State University and the entire city of Starkville. From climbing to the No. 1 ranking in 2014 to a school-record eight-straight bowl appearances, Dan has taken Mississippi State Football to unprecedented heights. With success comes the opportunity to be pursued by others. We were proactive in doing everything we could to try to keep him as our coach. On behalf of the entire Mississippi State Family, we wish Dan and Megan all the best.
“I informed the team this afternoon that running backs coach and special teams coordinator Greg Knox will serve as the interim head coach for our bowl game. Greg has coached in the Southeastern Conference for over 20 years. We are excited about playing in our school-record eighth-consecutive bowl game against a quality opponent. Our senior class has a chance to tie the 2015 and 1942 teams as the winningest senior class in Mississippi State history.”
“We have already begun a national search to identify our 33rd head football coach. Since 2014, Mississippi State Football has risen to national prominence. Our Bulldog Family is as passionate and loyal a fan base as there is in the nation. They have transformed Davis Wade Stadium into an intimidating venue among the loudest in college football. We have bright young men who proudly represent our program every day in the classroom, community and on the field. We return a tremendous roster of young talent. We seek someone who will continue us on our path to competing for championships and developing our student-athletes both on and off the field.
“As we turn the page to write a new chapter in Mississippi State Football, our momentum is stronger than ever. We are confident we will find an outstanding new leader to carry that momentum forward. Hail State.”
Mullen’s nine-year tenure featured a 69-46 record and a seven-year bowl streak that will reach eight when MSU’s bowl destination is announced next Sunday. Mullen’s teams went 5-2 in those bowl games.
MSU and Florida meet Sept 29, 2018, at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville.
Mullen guided MSU to an 8-4 mark (4-4 Southeastern Conference) this season. MSU lost to Ole Miss 31-28 in the Battle for the Golden Egg on Thursday to end the regular season. The Bulldogs will await word on a school record eight-consecutive bowl appearance. That announcement will come next Sunday.
Mullen was named MSU’s 32nd football coach on Dec. 10, 2008. He took over a program that went 32-65 in the eight seasons prior to his arrival. Since his first season, Mullen has transformed the program into a contender in the SEC West and nationally.
In 2014, Mullen was named National and SEC Coach of the Year. He helped the Bulldogs record the fastest ascent from unranked to No. 1 in college football history.
Mullen, who has a career record of 69-46, passed College Football Hall of Famer Allyn McKeen (65-19-3) for second in school history for wins this season.
Mullen called going from MSU to Florida a “lateral move” when former MSU defensive coordinator Geoff Collins did the same to be Florida’s defensive coordinator. Collins is now the coach at Temple.
Mullen spent a four-year stint as an offensive coordinator Florida under coach Urban Meyer. He also has a previous working relationship with current Florida Athletic Director Scott Stricklin, who was MSU’s director of athletics from 2010-2016.
Several players tweeted Sunday afternoon in response to the report. Freshman running back and Columbus native Kylin Hill tweeted, “Literally lost for words”. Cornerback Jamal Peters tweeted, “Wow …..”