Tuesday morning, word hit the internet that Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen had interviewed for the head coaching position for the Miami Hurricanes. While this was originally reported by the Dave Hyde of the Sun Sentinel, ESPN has also had this interview confirmed to it through sources as well.
Miami interviewed Mullen, Butch and Schiano. Talking with Richt today, per source.— Dave Hyde (@davehydesports) December 1, 2015
For his part, Mullen, who attended the Conerly Trophy presentation in Jackson Tuesday, did not directly address questions about his job status or the interview. He did not deny them, nor did he confirm them. He more or less joked off the questions.
Dan Mullen: "I'm not going to waste time commenting on rumors on the internet" https://t.co/pxLq9YHssM @WLBT @Fox40News— Mike Sands (@Mike_Sands) December 2, 2015
So, what should one make out of all of this? The Clarion Ledger also provided a good read. Sticklin saying that he did not see a reason that Mullen would not be back in Starkville next year may be the most comforting for State fans wanting to see Mullen stay.
It is good to remember that once these rumors start, a head coach has no good way to answer the questions. They just don't. If Mullen has interviewed at Miami, and he comes out and says that, it accomplishes nothing that benefits him or Mississippi State. The only way that is a win is if he gets the job and that announcement is imminent. If Mullen gives a statement that says he never intends to leave Starkville, that does not work either. One day, he may well get an offer that will pluck him out of Starkville. Everyone would then jump him and call him a liar. A coach in this position has no way to answer it right.
Honestly, his jokes about if Scott Stricklin is going to have him back next year was absolutely the right way to answer that question. It really does him no good to get into a did he or did he not interview war.
As to the rumored candidate list at Miami, one candidate is unlike the others, and that candidate is Mullen. Of the four, Butch Davis, Greg Schiano, Mark Richt and Mullen, only Mullen has a current employer. If Mullen has in fact interviewed for this job, and a couple of media outlets are now reporting that he has, he moves into that awkward position of having one job but looking for another that might be considered a lateral move by many. Of the four, Mullen has the most to lose by being interviewed for this position.
Let's travel down a speculative path of how this could have all played out if this rumored interview and interest are real:
With Davis and Schiano not being under contract to a team, Miami may have mentioned and interviewed them as smokescreen candidates as they waited to interview a coach that they wanted. At one point in time, Richt's name had come up for Miami way back when. Could Miami have been working to pluck him when he was safely at Georgia? While that is possible, it does not seem to likely. Mullen would be a candidate that seems more likely to fit that bill. Could Davis and Schiano have been smokescreens to allow Mullen to get through the Egg Bowl?
If that is was the case, Mullen more than likely would have had the Miami job in hand. Again, as a sitting coach, Mullen has the most to lose by interviewing for a job and not having it offered to him. If Mullen did have this job in hand going into the Egg Bowl, everything plays out nice and neat. Mullen coaches Saturday in Starkville, and some time this week, he gets announced as the coach in Miami. However, a funny thing happened on the way to this, and that is the firing of Mark Richt, a former Miami player. If Miami had any inkling that Richt would be interested, they would have to slow the process and talk to him. That is how we get into this awkward spot that Mullen has apparently interviewed for the job, but we have no idea what is happening at Miami.
Again, the above is pure speculation on how such a path to where we are today has developed. One other important question for the scenario would be the definition of interview. All of the above could be complete hogwash. All of the above could be completely correct.
As to could Mullen really go to Miami, there are some things that have to be appealing to the job. The pay will apparently be close to what he is making at Mississippi State.
My bad. That's @BruceFeldmanCFB report on the $4M being confirmed. Suggests Miami has more $$ for staff than many (me) expected— Dave Hyde (@davehydesports) December 1, 2015
If the money is about even, that makes the potential move easier to see. Over the long term, not the past decade, Miami has a great football pedigree. It has a fertile recruiting ground. No one can say that Mullen would not be successful there. Mullen is a coach that will more than likely succeed wherever he coaches. One knock on Miami is the fan apathy towards the program. Would Mullen want to reignite another fan base?
Either way, if behind the scenes Mullen was the frontrunner, that status has apparently changed with Richt now in play. In fact, in some ways, it might would seem that Richt has to decline the job for Mullen, or another potential candidate, to get the job. If that is the case, would Mullen want to go feeling as if he was the second choice? Could Mullen use this talk to get more things in Starkville such as pay for his staff?
We do know this. Scott Stricklin moved quickly and produced a slam dunk hire with basketball when dismissing Rick Ray. One would have to think he has a backup plan ready to go if Mullen does leave Starkville. It would be interesting to see who Stricklin would chase if he had an open coaching position.
At the end of the day, we will probably not know how much of all of these reports are true unless Mullen does go to Miami. All we can do is watch and see what happens. Welcome to the silly season of speculation and rumors, and more than likely, get ready to welcome Mullen back to the sideline in Starkville in 2016.