Dave Grohl said it best when he wrote the lyric to Foo Fighters’ hit, Everlong.

“If everything could ever feel this real forever. If anything could ever be this good again.”

Dan Mullen has been defiant for years when his name surfaced in coaching jobs. His quotes to media in the past few weeks seemed less defiant and left the door open that he just might leave Starkville as Mississippi State’s head coach.

Sunday, he did. Mullen bolted for Florida less than 72 hours after a season-deflating loss to hated rival Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl.

The Bulldogs opened the week as a 17.5-point favorite against Ole Miss, a sure-fire win away from at the very least the Citrus Bowl. By the time fans had digested their Thanksgiving turkey, they were left to digest something much tougher, and days later they still gnawing the fat from the 31-28 home loss to the Rebels.

Under Mullen, MSU reached No. 1 in the AP poll for the first time ever and finished No. 11, the second-best final ranking in school history (the 10-0-1 squad in 1940 ended up No. 9).

Less than three days later, Mullen was unexpectedly gone. There was almost zero worry Mullen was leaving Starkville. His tenure has put the Bulldogs on the SEC map, with seven winning seasons in nine years. His teams won the Gator, Music City, Liberty, Belk and St. Petersburg bowls and lost the Gator and Orange. The Orange Bowl trip was the first since 1941.

The Bulldogs were the No. 1 team in the country for five weeks in 2014 and finished second in the West – of course behind Alabama, which also knocked the Bulldogs out of No. 1. That was a 25-20 loss. Mississippi State lost 31-24 to Bama two weeks ago and all but had the game won.

That’s where Dan Mullen has taken this program. On an instate level, he ramped up the rivalry between Mississippi’s two SEC programs and while Ole Miss went national with its recruiting base, Mullen went after Mississippi kids and won with them. He built an expectation to beat Alabama. That’s no easy task – to build or to do.

All, the while, he told them he wasn’t leaving.

No matter the feeling on Mullen leaving or loyalty or money, his departure will affect the Bulldogs. His fire and coaching prowess has undoubtedly left a positive mark on the program.

Question is: Will the Bulldogs ever be this good again? Or was too much of the success a direct reflection of Mullen?

It is hard not to give the man his due. Mullen’s past work with Alex Smith at Utah and Tim Tebow at Florida paved the way for his successful mentoring of Dak Prescott and Nick Fitzgerald. Mullen has a way of not only finding the players no one else wants, especially no one else in the SEC, but then turning them into stars.

The same can be said for instate players he has plucked: Chris Jones, Fletcher Cox and Aeris Williams among plenty of others.

Mississippi State returns a lot of talent in 2018, namely Fitzgerald, Williams, sophomore running back Kylin Hill, sophomore linebacker Willie Gay, Brandon Bryant as a senior safety, junior defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons and sophomore quarterback Keytaon Thompson, who filled in for the injured Fitzgerald in the Egg Bowl.

Mullen has been a players’ coach – his tough-love style included his #DawgFam approach. His assistants have come and gone. But players flocked to him, especially inside Mississippi, which is an intense battleground between the two SEC schools for the state’s top players.

He got some top players and found a lot of diamonds in the rough, too. Mullen turned them into unprecedented success. His 33-39 mark in the SEC is an unfair gauge. Even Nick Saban takes the occasional lump during the SEC West schedule.

His impact on the fans has been the same. The fanbase has been abruptly devastated to lose the guy who gave them hope of an SEC title and rare hope to knock Alabama off the throne. He isn’t from Mississippi, but he embraced Mississippi State’s hatred of Ole Miss and single-handedly fired even a little too much extra hate into the rivalry.

No team wins single-handedly, but occasionally a player or coach has way more of a hand in winning than usual. Mullen has been one of those guys in Starkville. He has made good players great, OK players good and great players greater. He made passionate fans more passionate.

It’s impossible to say Mississippi State won’t ever be as good as it was under Mullen – but if so, it’s going to be awhile.

That’s how good he was.