Coleman Corner: Coach provides breath of fresh air for Bulldogs

Staff Writer

Forrest Gump’s mama was right. There’s an awful lot you can tell about a person by their shoes.

On Wednesday morning in Atlanta, new Mississippi State head football coach Joe Moorhead walked onto the main stage at Southeastern Conference Media Days for the very first time. He stepped to the podium sporting a nice pair of dress shoes.

What then came out of Moorhead’s mouth only served to emphasize what the things on his feet already said. It’s a whole new world in Starkville. At least in this mediocre sports writer’s opinion, it’s a needed breath of fresh air.

If you’ll remember, much of the talk of SEC Media Days the last several years has revolved around the MSU coach’s shoes. Former head coach Dan Mullen always went from room to room at the annual media circus showing off his newest, coolest pair of sneakers. Well, some things don’t change. Mullen’s shoe game was again the talk of the town in Atlanta on Tuesday, but this time, the colors on those shoes were the orange and blue of his new team – the Florida Gators.

As for the leader of the Bulldogs on Wednesday, Moorhead’s two feet were adorned a bit more, shall we say, more basic than his predecessor’s.

It was just the latest turn of events that emphasizes the difference in the Mullen and Moorhead regimes at MSU.

There have been other changes too. Moorhead’s coaching staff is recruiting at a higher level than Mullen’s ever did in Starkville. The Bulldogs’ 2019 class is currently ranked 12th in the country by 247Sports. The new MSU staff has seemed to be an incredibly motivated bunch on the recruiting trail.

There’s also a difference in how Moorhead appears to be handling MSU’s instate rivalry. When posed with a question regarding the Egg Bowl on Wednesday, Moorhead used the words ‘Ole Miss.’ That’s something Mullen never did, always opting instead to call the Rebels TSUN – The School Up North.

It’s not that Moorhead is dismissive of the MSU-Ole Miss battle. He admits he’s excited to be a part of it, but it does seem he’s got bigger fish to fry than just trying to top the Rebels.

None of this is to criticize Mullen’s tenure at State. While I know he isn’t exactly the most beloved figure to many of you for the way he exited, no one can argue that he took the Bulldogs to never-before-seen heights.

However maybe it was the perfect time for a change at MSU. The Bulldogs no longer have to deal with the yearly Mullen-to-fill-in-the-blank-university rumors. As stated earlier, Moorhead’s group appears to be surpassing Mullen’s recruiting efforts. It also probably doesn’t hurt that the Egg Bowl rivalry might get taken down a notch now that Mullen is out of the picture. For my entire life, a Mississippi State season has been judged by whether or not the Bulldogs beat Ole Miss. Mullen seemed to adapt that philosophy. I don’t expect that to change all that much, but I get the impression Moorhead’s end-all, be-all isn’t hoisting a golden egg in November. It’s lifting a national title trophy in January.

I don’t know if Moorhead can get there. What an incredible story it would be if he did. All I know is it seems like he’s taking steps in that direction. They are steps that perhaps Mullen couldn’t have taken himself if he’d have stuck around. And at least some of those steps on the journey will be taken in just your average, everyday pair of dress shoes.

Joel Coleman is the Mississippi State beat writer for The Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are Coleman's and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SDN or its staff.