Has Dan Mullen ever been so confident?

He had that look today at SEC Media Days.

Mullen took the podium with media members and talking heads buzzing about Mississippi State’s opportunity this year. It didn’t take him long to remind everyone the foundation that has already been laid in preparation, and that he’s won four of the last five Egg Bowls, including last year’s come-from-behind thriller.

“I think this is one of these years we’ve built a foundation of our program,” Mullen said. “By going to four straight bowl games, by winning four out of five Egg Bowls within the state, we’ve built a solid foundation for our future.”

And throughout all the interviews, he never would say that dirty word around Starkville: Ole Miss.

No, Mullen was buzzing at SEC Media Days, mostly because he loves the look of his team and the veteran players he’s returning. He and his team aren’t shying away from those expectations this year either. In fact, they are embracing them.

“I think for us when you look at expectations on the season, I think how last season ended, with a lot of young guys coming back on our team, our team immediately put a lot of expectations on themselves,” Mullen said. “Right from day one of the workouts, the winter conditioning, of what they wanted to accomplish this year, what they felt they could accomplish.”

“So we’ve talked to them about it, embrace all those expectations. Our expectations are to find a way to get to Atlanta. That’s what we can control and compete for that SEC championship this year. When you embrace that expectation early on as a program, when you embrace that for this year’s team, all those guys, that’s what they’re working for from day one. I don’t think they shy away from it. I think they embrace everything that’s going on.”

The reality is that MSU is looking to make that next big step in their program, and they have the schedule and the players to make that happen. The biggest reason Mullen feels so confident? Try QB Dak Prescott, the labeled Heisman Trophy contender who’s gearing up for a big season in StarkVegas.

“I know he [Prescsott] has that will. He is big, strong, can lift, out‑work you. He’s a guy that understands the importance of the skill of the quarterback position and he’s constantly working on his skill at that position. I think he’s a much better passer this year coming into this year than he was last year, working on the skill of throwing the ball and being comfortable in the pocket.”

Have you seen Dan Mullen so confident and carry such a swagger? No doubt Mullen feels his team is ready to become a dark-horse candidate in college football’s best division. The reality is that MSU can be a top 10 to 15 program and still be mediocre in their own division.