It is true, the state of Mississippi cannot host postseason NCAA events because the rebel battle flag is incorporated in the state flag. No matter how you feel about it, that's a fact.
Does that make it a pertinent subject to ask Mississippi State's head football coach about at SEC Media Days? Maybe.
Does that justify criticizing what that coach says in response in an article in a state-wide newspaper? No.
But, that's just what happened on Tuesday. When MSU coach Dan Mullen was answering quesitons at the podium at SEC Media Days, Clarion-Ledger MSU beat writer Michael Bonner asked about Mullen's thoughts on the subject. He responded with the following:
"That's a lot for people in Jackson and for the people in Mississippi. I know -- I don't see it very often. We don't have it on our campus up. I do know we're the most diverse campus in the Southeastern Conference. I know the university embraces that diversity as a whole. I certainly embrace that diversity. We're so diverse, they have a Yankee as the head football coach in the Southeastern Conference. I think it's something that on a national level is getting an awful lot of attention right now, that people are really looking into how we can make things better in the state of Mississippi. And I hope as a university we're out on the forefront trying to help make things better with the type of school that we have and the diversity we have in our school."
Okay, that's not the greatest response in the history of press conferences. But it was adequate for a question that frankly, was unnecessary in the first place.
Why was it unnecessary? Because the president of Mississippi State University, Mark E. Keenum, released a public university-wide statement on the postseason ban less than a week ago. The statement made it very clear that the university wants the flag changed. As a result of Dan Mullen being an employee of the university, this is also his opinion by proxy, making the question a waste of time when Mullen could have been discussing the actual topic at hand: Football.
BUT, asking this irrelevant question was not enough for the Clarion-Ledger. They then sent their former Ole Miss beat writer and current sports columnist turned chief political analyst, Hugh Kellenberger, to rip Mullen for his response. Kellenberger wrote this piece of total nonsense, wherein he sarcastically mocks Dan Mullen's "swag" and then attempts to criticize the coach for his dull response to a tawdry question. It cheapened the subject by creating controversy that wasn't even there. Kellenberger says in the article that Mullen should be "ready and willing to lead" with his opinion on the subject. Why? Dan Mullen is a FOOTBALL COACH. Not a political pundit.
Mullen simply piggy-backed on what MSU's president had already said and nothing more. Just as he should have.
The Clarion-Ledger even ran a piece just 4 days ago written by Kellenberger and Bonner saying that both Dan Mullen and Hugh Freeze stand by what their universities had already stated concerning changing the state flag. Making this incident even more pointless since Mullen gave the response that was to be expected.
If the Clarion-Ledger wants to be out in front covering the issue of the state flag, they should be talking to the governor and the state legislature, not football coaches.
The topic of the Mississippi state flag is a chance for the Magnolia State to shine. It's just a shame the largest paper in the state didn't help it better do so on Tuesday.