One game can change everything. After the Mississippi St. Bulldogs finished off their upset of the Texas A&M Aggies, most fans of the program realized the team still had a bright future despite the major setback the early season losses were.
But there are still a number of fans who refuse to buy in to the idea that Dan Mullen needs to continue to be the head coach of the Bulldogs. We still saw people littering our comments section on Facebook with things like he still has to win the Egg Bowl or Dan needs to go. Hate to burst those people’s bubble, but it isn’t happening.
I wrote this piece back in September outlining the reasons why I thought Dan Mullen wasn’t getting fired. While most agreed Mullen wasn’t getting fired, there were some who didn’t like the idea that a program with Mississippi State’s history and resources should pull the trigger on a coach after one bad season. I’m not even going to include any of those reasons this time around.
Before we even talk about what happened on the field, let’s talk about the events that occurred on Friday. John Cohen was officially hired as the AD for the school. John Cohen just went through a 2015 season where the team took a gigantic step back, but despite fans calls for his job, the school showed patience with Cohen to turn it around. In 2016, Cohen led the baseball team to an SEC Regular Season Championship. Cohen is going to show Mullen the same patience that was shown to him after the end of the 2015 season.
Now we need to look at some of the coaching decisions Mullen made. The Bulldogs’ offense and defense executed at levels we haven’t seen all season. Mullen told reporters after the game was over he let Peter Sirmon run the defense without any interference from Mullen. He also told reporters that over 50% of the play calling on offense was done by quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson. Mullen is recognizing that he needs to make changes, and he is actually doing it. While that might seem simple to most, getting a coach to change the way he does things is one of the hardest things to do. Many coaches would rather pass a kidney stone than actually try a different approach to anything they have ever done.
Then there is all of the positive things happening on the field for the Bulldogs. Aeris Williams has emerged ever since the BYU game as a potential feature back for the offense. On Saturday, Williams stepped up and cemented himself for that role.
Nick Fitzgerald has been making steady progress as a play maker at quarterback. He led the team on the field and made play after play to win the game. Sure, he made some mistakes and bad throws, the Bulldogs don’t win the game without Fitzgerald running and throwing the ball the way he did Saturday. Nick Fitzgerald is a much better player today than he was the first game of the season. He’s developing the way he is supposed to.
The Bulldogs might not win another game this season, though I think they have a really good chance to win the last two, but even if they don’t, the team is making progress. If a coaching change is made, then all of this progress will be gone. The players will have to learn completely new systems and try to adapt to those.
But if you want to have something to be mad about, I can give you one. I don’t know if the Bulldogs are going to win any of their final three games. Alabama is the longest of long shots, but Arkansas has been just as inconsistent as Mississippi State. And we learned on Sunday Chad Kelly is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL. No one is happy to see a player suffer such a devastating injury, but it is pretty obvious his absence makes the Egg Bowl much more winnable.
So what can you be mad about? We’ve talked throughout the whole season about how Dan Mullen was going to have to make changes to the coaching staff, and the biggest change that was probably needed was Offensive Line Coach John Hevesy. Well if the Bulldogs can win the last two games of the season and get bowl eligible, then there won’t be any staff changes made by Mullen.
I know the Fire Mullen bandwagon lost some passengers this past weekend. But for those who are still driving it full speed at their own risk, you are going to be in for a very big disappointment at the end of the season.