Mississippi State wins games, but trails in recruiting
Despite signing a class that finished outside of the Top 30, it was a very eventful recruiting season for Mississippi State. There were some ups, some downs, more drama than expected and, ultimately, satisfied customers in Starkville who are confident the Bulldogs can continue to compete in the SEC.
However … the Bulldogs won 19 games in the past two years — more than Auburn, Arkansas, Texas A&M and LSU — but had the lowest-rated recruiting class in the SEC West and the 11th overall in the conference, just ahead of Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Missouri.
The Bulldogs have to do a better job of converting wins to recruiting success.
MULLEN MIGHT HAVE ONE FOOT OUT THE DOOR
I was surprised Mississippi State survived the great coaching migration of 2015-2016. When the Miami, Georgia and even Maryland jobs opened, I thought somebody would pry away Dan Mullen.
Miami seemed to make the most sense because he would have local access to one of the most fertile recruiting spots in the nation and he would have brought some philosophical changes to that program. Plus Miami in the ACC Coastal is a much better situation than Mississippi State in the SEC West.
However, Mullen is well compensated and the adminstration at Mississippi State has done what it needs to do to keep him. His future seems to be an annual discussion. How much longer he stays remains to be seen, but he’s in Starkville for now.
SIGNING DAY COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE
Mullen took a beating in the first half of signing day. He had already lost four-star offensive lineman Scott Lashley to Alabama after failing to secure the flip of four-star defensive tackle Raekwon Davis, who temporarily change his mind in January. Then word leaked that four-star wide receiver A.J. Brown, who lived in Starkville and attended Starkville High School, was going to sign with Ole Miss. Naturally Twitter was not kind.
When Dan Mullen calls, recruits be like pic.twitter.com/CZ0UYECikl
— Drew Newell (@msugeek) February 3, 2016
Dan Mullen must be socially awkward the way signing day is going
— Benjamin Stuart (@benjamintstuart) February 3, 2016
Who owns #Mississippi?
1) Hugh Freeze
2) Nick Saban
— Out of Bounds (@bobounds) February 3, 2016
But in came five-star defensive end Jeffery Simmons and four-star defensive tackle Kobe Jones, another Starkville High prospect, to save the day and the class.
— FWtCT (@mstatesports) February 3, 2016
Let's go live to Dan Mullen after Jeffery Simmons signs with Mississippi State… pic.twitter.com/mGHf9hG7pk
— Joel Coleman (@JoelTColeman) February 3, 2016
It’s rare that the No. 31 class in the nation can bring as much drama as Mississippi State’s did, but such is life.
ALL THAT FOR NO. 31?!
Why did I think Mullen would leave after 2015? Well he took Mississippi State to a No. 1 ranking in 2014 for a few days and led the program to an Orange Bowl berth that season. The Bulldogs had a nine-win season this year and with Dak Prescott leaving it’s fair to wonder whether the program has maxed out or gone as far as Mullen can take it.
The SEC West is a major challenge and it’s hard to see the Bulldogs winning five games in such a stacked division. Mullen has brought in solid recruiting classes and done a great job evaluating and developing talent.
He works twice as hard to put together a roster to compete with the rest of the division while Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Ole Miss can just stack top 10 recruiting classes on top of each other year in and year out.
With Mississippi State peaking as a program over the past two season, Mullen needed to win more recruiting battles than he did.
SATELLITE CAMPS ARE NO HELP
In the past five years, Mississippi State has gotten a total of five prospects from outside of “SEC Territory.” The program has a regional recruiting base and that’s fine because there’s more than enough talent in the Gulf Coast states for the program to survive.
In the past five years, the Bulldogs have only gotten 10 prospects from Georgia, and that number seems a little low. So satellite camps probably wouldn’t do the program much good, but an increased presence in Georgia and Texas would be a very good idea.