By LEE ADAMS
Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen kicked off Egg Bowl week with his weekly press conference on Monday.
There was plenty of talk about the upcoming rival game against "the school up north," but there were other issues touched on as well.
MSU senior linebacker Brandon Wilson has decided to go ahead and participate in the senior day ceremony before Saturday's battle for the golden egg, even though he still has one year of eligibility remaining.
"He's graduating and has a great future ahead of him," said Mullen. "He has another year of eligibility and we've told him we would love to have him back."
Wilson has 89 tackles this season and has been a tackling machine alongside fellow linebacker Cameron Lawrence. Lawrence will be returning for his senior season next year, so Wilson could still return if he decides to.
If Wilson does decide to return, he knows the level of competition he and the Bulldogs would be taking on which is at an all time high right now. Currently, LSU, Alabama and Arkansas are ranked as the top three teams in the nation. All three were able to defeat the Bulldogs this season and Mullen feels that what is happening right now reflects just how good the league and the Southeastern Conference Western Division is.
"I think it's really good for our league, but it's certainly challenging as a team who is in that division," said Mullen. "It's hard to take that next step when you're competing against teams that are ranked in the top 25. Every game we've lost this year is to a team who is currently ranked in the top 25, and as a competitor i like playing against the top teams week in and week out."
MSU is wanting to take the next step and win the SEC West, and if they can find a way to do that next season, it could mean more than just a trip to Atlanta.
"When we do break through in a small way just to win a conference championship, you're probably going to break through and have a chance to win a national championship," said Mullen.
Mullen isn't a stranger to national championships as he won two as an assistant coach at Florida under then head coach Urban Meyer. Meyer, who has been out of coaching for a few years now, has had his name thrown around for some head coaching openings throughout college football. If Meyer was to start coaching again it wouldn't shock Mullen.
"Urban's a young guy and it's in his blood," said Mullen. "I don't know if this will be the year for him or not, but I'd be shocked not to see him coach again at some point."
Mullen said Meyer has been coaching pop warner baseball and joked saying "I can't imagine how intense that little league practice must be."
Things took a change from talking about college football to a sad situation that has occurred in Fayetteville, Ark. at the University of Arkansas – situation that MSU is all too familiar with.
After the Razorbacks defeated the Bulldogs on Saturday in Little Rock, back up tight end Garrett Uekman died in Fayetteville.
"It's a terrible deal," said Mullen. "I called, didn't get to talk to Bobby (Petrino), I left a message for him this morning telling him our prayers are with them and if we can help in any way to let us know."
Uekman was a 19-year old tight end from Little Rock where he played his final game against MSU on Saturday. He didn't record any stats in the game. The cause of death wasn't known as of Monday afternoon. MSU suffered the loss of a teammate last season in Nick Bell, so Mullen can sympathize with what Petrino and the Razorback team is going through.
"You're trying to figure out what the right thing to do is," said Mullen. "The answer to that is there is no right or wrong thing, you just have to feel."
MSU lost Bell a little over a year ago, and it is still with the Bulldogs.
"It stills stick with out program," said Mullen. "It's not something you're going to shake away, you just have to let your feeling out and I think it will help you deal with it better."
As for on the field, the Razorbacks will continue their season and play the rival game against LSU Friday, and the Bulldogs will host Ole Miss at 6:02 p.m. Saturday.