In the world in which we live, there may be no job as visible and open to public scrutiny than that of a football coach at the professional or college level. Every hire, every quote, every decision they make often get nitpicked. Every coach seems to be hired to be fired, and every coach is expected to always be above reproach.
Ask Mike Price and no telling how many others.
This week, Dan Mullen ended up becoming part of the story about the Miami Hurricanes head coaching vacancy. This story really started a few days before the Egg Bowl when reports, without much substance, started surfacing that Mullen was interested in the jobs at Virginia Tech, Virginia, and Maryland. After the Bulldogs lost to Ole Miss, many fans started speculating that Mullen looked disinterested in the contest and felt that maybe he already had another job lined up.
Saturday turned into Sunday and the Georgia Bulldogs parted ways with Mark Richt. Mullen's name was one of the first ones along with Kirby Smart to be floated for that job. Then on Tuesday, several media outlets reported that Mullen had interviewed for the Miami position that ultimately went to Mark Richt.
Many fans ended up in arms about the situation, angry that Mullen could dare entertain the idea of going to another school. They were all wrong for getting angry.
One of the most common arguments went along the lines of "well, if Mullen is interviewing with Miami, he is just looking to get out of Starkville." In theory, that could be true. Interviewing somewhere would be the first step in leaving town. However, interviewing somewhere does not mean you are chomping at the bit to leave your current position. Think back to your own life. Most of us have interviewed for a position while working for another employer. Some times this has been done with the hopes of career advancement, and other times, it may have just been a feeling out process. Company A wanted to talk to you about coming to work for them, or you wanted to see what Company A had to offer. Folks, if someone comes to you asking you to interview, you would be foolish not to consider it. Who knows what they may be about to offer? On the flip side, if you think working at another place may be what you need, but you want to learn more, interviewing is usually the best way to do some aggressive, hands on research. No matter the reason, there is no reason to believe that Mullen was interviewing because he is desperate to leave Starkville. Just back off of that ledge a bit.
The second argument that many people made was that it felt like Mullen had cheated on the Bulldog fan base. I hate to break it to you folks, but coaching contracts don't have a "for better or for worse" or a "till death do us part" clause. At best the relationship between a team and a coach is like two people dating. There is nothing binding there, and if one or the other thinks that things might be better elsewhere, they may do a little flirting or talking to try to find out. Whatever happens ends up happening, and that is in the best of coaching relationships. Many more are much more like friends with benefits, where both sides are just using each other. I'll stop there.
The third common argument has been that things are going to be awkward now for Mullen at Starkville. Again, this is not necessarily true. Mullen may have very well told his folks that he was going to interview to see how it goes. For all we know, this may have been nothing more than a courtesy interview. Who knows? This much I do know. In that profession, no one will find it very awkward that a coach had talked with another school about their open position. The topic will not come up much or at all, and it will be business as usual in Starkville.
The only real valid disappointment from fans about this situation deals with recruiting. Could this impact Mullen's ability to recruit? I would figure that other schools will use it against him, and I figure that he will be asked questions about it by some recruits. I also figure that Mullen and his assistants are also savvy enough to know how to handle those questions as they come up.
As for everyone who was disappointed that he did not get the job, well, we all get to have our opinion.