Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen is often mentioned as a possible candidate for the open head coaching position at Tennessee.

Sports Illustrated writer Bruce Feldman was a guest on The Paul Finebaum Show on Monday and said there is genuine interest in Mullen in Knoxville.

“He obviously knows the SEC really well and has done a really good job in Starkville,” Feldman said. “That’s the hardest program to win at in the SEC West. Look, he gave Alabama all it can handle the other night. Tennessee’s had issues on offense. Dan Mullen’s a really good offensive coach. He’s really good at developing quarterbacks, he’s shown that repeatedly. So I think he makes a lot of sense.”

For his part, earlier in the day, Mullen responded to those rumors.

“I love the one (job) I have. Everyone has an opinion on what I should and shouldn’t do,” he said.

Feldman added that Mississippi State has done a good job of building the program under Mullen, and he’s paid very well at $4.5 million per year. Mullen’s coached there since 2009 after he was an offensive protege under Urban Meyer at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida.

“But I think Tennessee could pay him a lot more than that. They could probably pay him $6.5 (million a year) if not more than that,” Feldman said. “The stadium and the facilities at Tennessee are much better. The challenge here is, you go 8-4 at Mississippi State, they’re going to love you forever. He’s done that. I think the last five years I think he’s averaged eight wins. If he does that at Knoxville, he averages eight wins and goes .500 in the conference, eventually, they’re going to pull the plug on him. That’s not good enough at Tennessee.”

So if the interest is accurate, Feldman believes the question comes down to Mullen potentially betting on himself.

“I can really elevate and have a chance to make a run at a national championship and have that opportunity consistently,” he said. “Or does he say, unless I can get Florida, I’m not sure Tennessee is that much better of a job than what I’ve got now.”

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Tennessee online sports betting officially launched on November 1, 2020, and many of the largest sportsbooks are live and operating in the volunteer state. Tennessee is only one of a handful of SEC football states with legalized sports betting.