Mississippi State University has a football program in transition. No, it isn't a change in the size of the celebrated MSU cowbell. We see a new coach and coaching staff, yet with a few familiar faces that are a welcome inclusion to that staff.
At head coach is Dan Mullen, a proven offensive guru that has produced some extremely notable pro players for the NFL. His last position was Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach for a great Florida program. Notable during his time there are Heisman Trophy, Davey O’Brien and Maxwell Award winning quarterback Tim Tebow.
Mullen’s team accomplishments are just as impressive. During his time at Florida, his offense ranked 3rd in scoring, 9th in rushing yards, 2nd in rushing TDs nationally and set many of the schools previous records. He also helped Florida to two National Championships and two SEC Championships.
Mullen has collected some real fine talent at his coaching assistance positions. The Assistant Coaches are John Hevesy Offensive Line/Running Game Coordinator, Tony Hughes Safeties, Les Koenning Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks, Melvin Smith Cornerbacks/Nickelbacks, David Turner Defensive Line, Mark Hudspeth Wide Recievers/Passing Game Coordinator, Greg Knox Running Backs, Scott Sallach Tight Ends, Carl Torbush Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers.
The supporting positions are filled with former Mississippi State Head Coach Rockey Felker who is Director of Player Personnel/High School Relations, Jody Wright Assistant to the Head Coach/Coordinator of Football Operations, Matt Balis Head Strength Coach, and Reed Stringer Director of Recruiting Operations.
To say State fans are excited with this crew is a huge understatement. Mullen in his first news conference with the alumni let it be known that this is his team as much as it is ours. That is a huge difference from the former Head Coach, Sylvester Croom who proclaimed the team to be our team, but never his. This attitude now affects the players and recruiting in a huge way and the recruiting class this year shows it.
Most of the incoming freshmen are listed as top prospects in most national list and the quality of Junior College recruits are also of a higher quality. This may be a result of who the new Head Coach is as much as just the new attitude on campus.
Offensive players that dream of going pro have a better chance under Coach Mullen. This isn’t taking anything away from the defensive player, as the incoming class has a much higher defensive quality to it.
Overall, the alumni and fans in general are very excited about the 2009 season and words such as, “Championship,” are being whispered again. Mississippi State in the next few seasons will make it very warm for all the teams in the SEC West and State devotees are already seeing the SEC Champion Trophy sitting in a place of honor surrounded by a brace of cowbells on their campus.