Mullen’s Got To Go

Being in Starkville, MS, I am subjected to many unsolicited discussions of college football and especially Mississippi State Bulldogs football. Even when I protest my general disinterest in the collegiate version of the sport, many retorts are hurled my way to include the "passion" of college players in comparison to professional athletes. I've addressed numerous reasons to cancel those claims (choose one here.) I have a different bit of opinions for Hail State Nation since they're so excited to talk about their Bulldogs and the 3 or 4 weeks they were ranked #1 in the middle of the season (an accolade that means nothing at all).

Dan Mullen is not the answer. I've waited to hear see if there would be any unrest; I knew better. Unless the Hail Staters are content with being just above bottom feeders, they'd agree. But I wouldn't make such a statement without some skewed numbers to back me up. I present the argument:

  • Forty-six percent of Dan's losses have come after Halloween, the time in which the Bulldogs usually challenge Arkansas, Alabama, and Mississippi (or Ole Miss or TSUN, or whatever Hail State Nation needs to make up to make them feel good.)
  • Sylvester Croom, the preceding coach who the Maroon & White lagoon was happy to run out of town, averaged a record of 4-8 while winning 25% of conference games. Contrast that with Mullen's 8-5 average per season, which is truly an improvement as is his winning of 46% of conference games. So things have gotten better I suppose.
  • Other coaches catching stepping down:
    • Mark Richt/10-3 per season with 2 conf titles and 6 division titles
    • Steve Spurrier/8-4 per season with three straight 11 win season
    • Al Golden/6-5 per season and inherited self-imposed sanctions
    • Frank Beamer/8-4 per season in 29 seasons and 7 conference titles in two conferences.
  • Jackie Sherrill seemed to be a pretty big deal to Bulldawg fans; even he averaged 5 wins a season mainly due to the fact that for every good season there was a terrible one. As a matter of fact, he was ran away from the job after he posted 8 total wins in his final 3 seasons.
After researching that last figure, I'm changing my position. Dan Mullen isn't the only reason why the Dawg Pound can't seem to turn the corner; their support system is equally at fault. The team has an overall win percentage just under .500; they've participated in 18 total bowl games, which is crazy when you consider bowl game invites are going up over the years; they have one conference title and division title to their name (Mizzou just joined the conference and has won 2 division titles, but most will say that's because the eastern division is weak); and the in-conference record is abysmal winning only 35% of the time. The "rivalry" with Alabama is non-existent; they're 18-79-3 all-time vs. the Tide. The Maroon Typhoon needs a twenty year winning streak against the hated Ole Miss Rebels just to break even in the win-loss column. The only SEC teams that they can say they have success against are Vanderbilt and Kentucky but so can every other program.

Adopting a tradition of success isn't much to do though. Other programs and fans have adopted a culture of winning or cheating, if you must. Here are five teams that may or may not be considered among the top tier in all of college football (another bullet list):

  • Oregon: good for about 7 wins a year historically and has been on the cusp of being a national champion twice in 5 years.
  • TCU: also good for 7 wins a year but made the jump to a big time conference after being shunned when the SWC big wigs left to form the Big XII. It is of note that they recently beat the holy shit out of Ole Miss in a bowl game in what seemed to be a statement game.
  • Cincy: the Bearcats are a middle of the road team just now making it to one of the Big 5 conferences but has recently become a steady competitor. 
  • MIAMI: the Canes were so bad in the 70's that they sold game tickets at the local restaurants. Their surge in the 80's and early 90's in addition to the Butch Davis/Larry Coker eras has raised their yearly win total to around 8 games per year, and even that is low enough to get a coach fired.
  • North Carolina: a basketball school averages just under 8 wins a year and owns their rivals.
  • Duke: the Blue Devils are more a comparison to the Bullpups than anything. They have nearly the same win-loss percentage, more conference titles, and is also considered a basketball school.
Either way, I've spent way too much time researching college football teams and coaches. So until the next time I'm invited to a discussion of Maroon and White football, I'll stick to "Fire Mullen".