Arkansas vs. Mississippi State: Why a Loss Puts Dan Mullen on the Hot Seat

Ian Berg@@ShugJordanPkwyCorrespondent INovember 14, 2012

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 10:  Head coach Dan Mullen of the Mississippi State Bulldogs talks with a player during the game against the LSU Tigers 
at Tiger Stadium on November 10, 2012 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.The Tigers defeated the Bulldogs 37-17.   (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Dan Mullen had the Mississippi State Bulldogs on their way to the strongest start in school history earlier this year. At the end of October, the perfect record came crashing down against Alabama, and the Bulldogs have been on a three-game losing streak. 

With Arkansas and Ole Miss left to finish on the schedule, another loss this week would put Mullen on the Hot Seat. 

Arkansas is having a terrible season, sitting at 4-6 with no hope at a postseason. If they can beat the Bulldogs at home, Mullen may not make it out of the stadium.

There seems to be a national cheering squad for Mullen and the job he has done for the Bulldogs, and, looking at the record, he has been better than most in his four years with the program. 

Mullen picked up a shattered program left behind by Sylvester Croom, and he turned this team into a bowl-winning program. 

This year’s early jump to a 7-0 record made many fans believe that the program had hit the next level and that the Bulldogs had climbed inside the Top 15. Embarrassing losses the past three weeks have shown that this team is no different than four years ago. 

Looking back at Dan Mullen's record at Mississippi State, it is clear that he has coached the Bulldogs to limited success against conference opponents. To date, he has only one win against an SEC Western Division team that is not named Ole Miss in his time in Starkville. 

The Mullen-led Bulldogs defeated Auburn this season 28-10. Auburn is now marching toward a 3-9 finish this season, watering down the win for Mississippi State.

It is one thing to win the Egg Bowl every year, but the folks in Starkville are getting hungry for an SEC Western Division title. The fans want to see their team appear in Atlanta and have a shot at a BCS bowl. 

Arkansas would be considered a comparable team, and they have been to the SEC title game in the past decade. The Bulldogs haven’t. 

A loss to Arkansas would be the final straw for Mississippi State. Mullen's seat would have to start heating up—especially after the year that Arkansas is having with John L. Smith leading the charge. 

The Razorbacks were expected to contend for a national title, but instead they are sitting with two games remaining and no real shot at the postseason. As they try and push for bowl eligibility, this will be a winnable game to help them get there. Mississippi State can’t sleep on the Hogs. 

This game will come in Starkville and will be the morning kickoff for the SEC Network. The Bulldogs faithful will still be present and rowdy, but they will quiet quickly if Arkansas can find its groove on offense. 

This is a must-win for Mullen, and he needs it to be a convincing win—without it, the Bulldogs will begin to question his leadership.


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