Dan Mullen should be in SEC Coach of the Year discussion
Last season, Mississippi State came out of nowhere and found itself as one of the nation’s top teams and a serious contender in the SEC West. And by surpassing everyone’s expectations, Dan Mullen became the 2014 Associated Press’ SEC Coach of the Year.
But with the amount of turnover the Bulldogs had from last year’s team to this year’s, one could argue that Mullen is even more deserving of that award for the job he is doing this season.
Mullen has the Bulldogs sitting at 6-2 and ranked No. 24 in the the latest AP Poll after Mississippi State was picked by most before the season to finish last or second-to-last in the SEC West. More importantly, he has his team playing its best football so far this year as we enter the final month of the season.
Mississippi State’s two losses this season are also nothing for any coach to be ashamed about. Early in the season, Mullen had the Bulldogs within a field goal of beating LSU, who many consider to be the best team in the SEC right now. And that was before Mississippi State had even really hit its stride.
It was the Bulldogs’ second loss, to Texas A&M 30-17 in Week 5, that really got Mississippi State’s attention. Since that lost, Mullen’s team has won three straight games and enters Week 10 favored over Missouri.
With a relentless conference schedule, one loss can quickly turn into several, but the Bulldogs have scored 107 points combined in the two games after each of their losses, and that speaks to Mullen’s ability to put his players in a position to bounce back quickly after defeats.
Games against Alabama and Ole Miss in the final four weeks will be very telling as to how deserving Mullen is of back-t0-back Coach of the Year awards. But even if the Bulldogs just beat Missouri and Arkansas (both easier said than done), eight wins is a lot more than many thought Mississippi State would have this year.
Mississippi State ranks 37th in the FBS in points per game (35.0) and 21st in points allowed per game (17.8). The only other two SEC teams to rank among the top 40 in both categories are LSU and Ole Miss.
Mullen has an excellent quarterback in Dak Prescott, but for the most part isn’t working with the same number of former four and five-star recruits as some of the top teams in the conference. But somehow Mullen continues to get the most out of his players and has the Bulldogs again looking like a team that no one would want to face right now.