Most people in college take 4 years, give or take a semester or two, to complete their degree program. I think it is only fitting that we start to figure out the job that Mullen has done in the time here. I'm going to calculate using the +/- system. For instance, an A+ would be 4.3 points, and an A- would be 3.7 points. Let's start with each season.
Record: 5-7 Overall, 3-5 SEC
Grade B- (3.3 points)
Reasoning: This was a losing season and the only one in which State has not gone to a bowl under Mullen, but the fact that they got more than two wins is a monumental accomplishment. Tyson Lee only threw four touchdowns all year, Relf threw a few in limited action, the defense gave up big play after big play, and had it not been for a monster season by Dixon, we probably would have only had two wins. What's even more remarkable, had we been able to close the game ending drive out against LSU, we would have had six wins and would have gone bowling.
Record: 9-4 Overall, 4-4 SEC
Grade A- (3.7 points)
Reasoning: While many around the program thought a good season was possible, most outside it thought 6 wins would have been the ceiling. Give Mullen and company a lot of credit, they revamped the defense, saw what they did well and focused on that, and got everything out of all of their players. They surprised a number of people, took advantage of a few programs that had seasons they weren't used to, and finished it with one of the most impressive performances in a bowl game that I have seen
Record: 7-6 Overall, 2-6 SEC
Grade C- (1.7 points)
Reasoning: A lot was expected of this team, mostly hinged on the supposed improvement of Relf as a thrower. That didn't happen. They were able to stay in most games, but the season never materialized like many had hoped. Most saw a team that could win around 8 games, but it took a win over rival Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl just to get bowl eligibility.
Record 8-5 Overall, 4-4 SEC
Grade C+ (2.3 points)
Reasoning: Possibly the hardest season to grade because 8 wins at State is not a common occurrence, but it could have been so much more. After a promising 7-0 start, the Dawgs limped to a 1-5 finish. What made it worse, the losses were just flat out ugly. A lot of the enthusiasm and energy was changed to fans bloodthirsty for some of the assistant coaches.
Grade B (3.0 points)
Reasoning: The 2010 and 2011 classes were, at best average, and at worst poor. The 2012 class was a huge swing in the other direction and despite the recent coaching changes, 2013 looks to be stacking up well. It's headed in the right direction, so I think a solid B is about right.
Selling the Program
Grade A- (3.7 points)
Reasoning: This would have been an A+ had it not been for the waning enthusiasm at the end of this year, but otherwise, he has hit a homerun. He embraced the disdain of Ole Miss, he has taken on a role of confidence, and he has the fanbase believing that brighter days and more can come of this program.
Just below a B which I think is appropriate. He has done a good job, but there is still definitely room for improvement. While there have been impressive wins, there isn't really a signature win for Mullen. The closest thing he has is the 2009 win over Ole Miss or the 2010 win over Florida. Neither are similar to the 200 win over Florida or the 1998 win over Arkansas that all but sealed our Western Division champion. He also needs to get some more elite level talent on the team to compete with the upper echelon in the SEC.
Long Term Outlook
Here is where the rubber meets the road for Mullen and this program. If he averages 8 wins over the next two years, I think that is all he will be here for. Either he will leave for another job because he doesn't think he will be able to accomplish more than that here, or the fanbase's expectations will be built up so much that they will start to call for his head. I posted a poll the other day about how most would grade the season. Most have voted for C but more than half have been for C or lower. Expectations are rising in Starkville, all of which can be attributed to Mullen. Those elevated expectations may end up causing him to leave or get him canned.