When you consider what the Mississippi State football team went through last Saturday and that the Egg Bowl awaits next week, it would be easy for the Bulldogs to take the field less than focused for Saturday’s 11 a.m. kickoff at Arkansas.
You can add to that list of concerns the fact that Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen took more questions Monday about the possibility of him taking another job. This time, it’s Tennessee.
As the MSU team looks to move past a guttwrenching 31-24 loss to Alabama, Mullen hopes his team can regain its footing for another key SEC contest.
“It’s a big challenge for our guys,” he said Monday. “If we think we’re a good football team, we’re going to find a way to be better this week than we were last week. That’s what good teams do. Really good teams, that’s what they do. Right now, my concern is not much, but we haven’t practiced yet. We haven’t done anything yet, as coaches and players and everybody within this program. We have the opportunity to still have a great season ahead of us and do a lot of really good things.”
Mississippi State rolls into Saturday’s contest with a 7-3 overall record and a 3-3 mark in SEC, tied for fourth in the West Division with Texas A&M.
Mullen pointed out that all three of his team’s losses have come against teams ranked in the top seven of the AP Top 25 – No. 1 Alabama, No. 6 Auburn and No. 7 Georgia.
“We want to finish this season strong and hopefully put ourselves as a Top 10, Top 15 program in the country,” Mullen said. “If we can do that, we’re going to have to be much better this week than we were last week. If that focus changes, then we won’t have a special year. We won’t be considered at the level we want our team to be at.”
Arkansas enters the game at 4-6 overall and 1-5 in the SEC. The Razorbacks will need to beat MSU and Missouri in the regular season finale to gain bowl eligibility.
For the second consecutive week, Mullen was asked about his name being attached to a job opening.
Last week, it was Florida.
On Monday, it was Tennessee.
Butch Jones was fired as the Volunteers’ head coach after going 34-27 in five seasons and some experts have pointed to Mullen as an idea replacement.
“I love the (job) I have,” Mullen said Monday. “I think what you see is what we’ve been able to build Mississippi State into. As I keep saying, I think everybody has an opinion in the world about what I should and shouldn’t do. People that know me, and friends that have known me for a long time, know I like my own opinion. I’m not really interested in other people’s opinions all that much. I like my own opinion. My wife, I listen to her; I’ve got no choice but to do that. I’d get in trouble if not. If you get in that situation, whether you like her opinion or not, you may want to take that one and really contemplate.
“When you look around, when we’ve been able to build a facility, have an AD that’s been a coach, have a president that hugely supports our football team, you build a team that’s a Top 25 program in my mind. Look at the atmosphere Saturday night. I have a great job.”
Who: Mississippi State vs. Arkansas
When: 11 a.m., Saturday
Where: Fayetteville, Ark.
Radio: WPMO 1580-AM