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By MATTHEW STEVENS
OXFORD â€“ To assume Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen would get phone calls from schools wanting his services as their next football coach, at least in his view, would be a little premature.
The college football regular season wrapping up over the next several weeks means the head coaching silly season has already begun to heat up and Mullen discussed after Tuesdayâ€™s practice how he might handle interest from athletic directors around the country whoâ€™ll need a young, innovative head coach.
â€śI donâ€™t pay much attention to it,â€ť Mullen said. â€śI know thereâ€™s always speculation that all that stuff happens out there but believe me, I think it happens a lot less than everybody speculates for it."
Mullen said the reporting he was getting multiple offers when he was the offensive coordinator at Florida was misinformation and maintained a confused tone in his voice as to why he would be interested in future open positions.
â€śI, as an offensive coordinator, was supposedly getting calls every single year when I was at Florida and in my whole career I got one phone call and that was from (former Mississippi State athletic director) Greg Byrne,â€ť Mullen said. â€śI donâ€™t even consider that. To be honest with you, I donâ€™t know where I would leave to go to. This is the Southeastern Conference so I really donâ€™t have any experience in the NFL and I coach in the SEC so I donâ€™t really know if thereâ€™s many places for me to go to.â€ť
KSTP-TV, the ABC-affiliate in Minneapolis-St. Paul, reported Saturday that the Parker search firm has reached out to Mullen and Connecticut head coach Randy Edsall. Mullen, 38, in his second year in Starkville, reportedly makes $1.2 million/year. Edsall, 52, in his 12th year with the Huskies, reportedly makes $1.35 million/year.
Earlier this week, Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi sent a letter to all Gophers season-ticket holders providing an update on the coaching search.
â€śI am proud to report that the hiring process for our new football coach has gone exceedingly well to this point,â€ť Maturi wrote. â€śOur search firm has helped us identify and vet a number of outstanding candidates and we are now nearing the final stages of the process. I continue to solicit input and welcome any recommendations on potential candidates.â€ť
As of Thanksgiving Day 2010, Colorado and Minnesota are the only BCS schools with a head coaching vacancy, but that's sure to grow in the next couple of weeks.
MSU athletic director Scott Stricklin had no comment to the Starkville Daily News if any schools had requested permission from his office to speak with Mullen.
Some of that speculation started in a small way last year even after Mullen went 5-7 with Mississippi State in his first ever season as a head coach as The Associated Press suggested Mullen as a candidate for the open Kansas job that was eventually filled by Turner Gill.
On the day after Christmas 2009, numerous media outlets suggested Mullen as a candidate to replace Urban Meyer at the University of Florida when Meyer was having health issues. Mullen issued a university statement about Meyerâ€™s alleged resignation, went on ESPNEWS to talk about the matter and his boss at that time Byrne released a statement responding to Mullenâ€™s candidacy for that position.
Stricklin has had no comment if a new contract is being negotiated between Mullen and MSU officials saying weeks ago heâ€™d discuss that topic â€śwhen the time is appropriate.â€ť
State strong favorite for Chick-fil-A Bowl
Mississippi State may find out very quickly that theyâ€™re headed to Atlanta on New Yearâ€™s Eve.
The Chick-fil-A, Capital One and Liberty Bowl committee representatives were on hand on Nov. 20 to watch Arkansas pull out a 38-31 double-overtime victory over MSU.
Of the trio of bowl committees, the Chick-fil-A Bowl has been to Davis-Wade Stadium to the most Bulldogs home games during the 2010 season and Saturday sent representative Jack Dâ€™Arcy, who happens to be a State alum.
â€śI believe thatâ€™s a fair assessment but I can look you in the face and say if they win tonight, theyâ€™ll go,â€ť Dâ€™Arcy said during halftime of the Egg Bowl about Stateâ€™s potential chances at an invite. â€śI also canâ€™t say if they lose, they wonâ€™t be a pick.â€ť
Dâ€™Arcy, who went down to hear Mullenâ€™s post-game comments and even asked a question of the second-year head coach, said his bowl is fourth in the selection process not counting the potential of a Southeastern Conference team making the Bowl Championship Series national championship game in Glendale, Ariz.
â€śWe negotiated for a higher picking order and we didnâ€™t get it so Chick-fil-A Bowl has a little more flexibility in that regard,â€ť Dâ€™Arcy said.
The Chick-fil-A Bowl, which used to be called the Peach Bowl, is the eighth-oldest bowl game in college football history and is again on New Yearâ€™s Eve. The contest will involve a selected SEC school and the second-best Atlantic Coast Conference program.
The last time State was selected for the then-called Peach Bowl in 1999 and the result was an 17-7 Bulldogs win over Clemson.
â€śWe usually have to wait until Championship weekend to have all that sorted out,â€ť Dâ€™Arcy said. â€śThis year it will not be all that complicated.â€ť