Dan Mullen knew what he was walking into at SEC Media Days. He knew it was coming. The entire Jeffery Simmons saga has been rolling along all offseason and it's been building up to this moment. The moment that Dan Mullen would have to answer to the press for the University's decision to bring Jeffery Simmons into the football program.
It was a sink or swim moment for Dan Mullen. But it didn't go well. And now Dan Mullen is being blasted all across the internet for his answers and for coming across as tone deaf.
The clear theme of Dan Mullen's remarks today: tone deaf.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_AJC) July 12, 2016
Dan Mullen, tone deaf.— Chantel Jennings (@ChantelJennings) July 12, 2016
The stumbling over his words, the inability to directly answer questions, and the perception that he was more focused on his shoes than more pressing issues in his football program seemed to be the most prevalent, but some of the more lenient criticisms of Mullen's press conferences in Hoover today.
He made a few strong points, one about having accountability and bearing the responsibility of the actions of his players, whether those actions are benevolent or malicious. The other about raising players up, giving them a shot at redemption, and then allowing them to grow and mature.
Mullen on if something goes wrong w/ Simmons: "We’re all responsible… I’m responsible for all my players."— Joel Coleman (@JoelTColeman) July 12, 2016
Mullen asked about Jeffrey Simmons: One of the things we want to do as coach is help young men make good decisions— Luke Johnson (@ByLukeJohnson) July 12, 2016
Here's that Mullen answer on whether he bears responsibility if Simmons has an incident while a Miss State student. pic.twitter.com/S1DXw1RMNj— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) July 12, 2016
And these are some of the legitimate points for bringing Jeffery Simmons to Starkville and letting him play football for Mississippi State. There are real arguments for the rehabilitation of someone who made an awful decision and hurt another human being.
But we didn't hear enough of those today from Dan Mullen. He seemed to dance around questions and used a lot of coach speak. He didn't directly answer questions and eventually came off as callous toward women who have been affected by violence, instead of compassionate to victims.
While I don't agree with letting Simmons play football again, I do acknowledge the importance of having a second chance in life. And I'm sure many people might have been open to hearing about how a discussion about the how important role models, community, and a chance at redemption can be for someone.
It's unfortunate we didn't get that discussion from Dan Mullen. Richie Brown, Fred Ross, and A.J. Jefferson all touched on Simmons' attempts at turning his life around, but it's a shame that Mullen's answers didn't revolve around that. Because of that, the legitimate justifications and explanations for bringing Simmons to Starkville that Mullen did make weren't the highlight of SEC Media days. They were placed on the back burner.
Richie Brown on Jeffery's situation: "He who is without sin can throw the first stone. I pray people will see it in their hearts to forgive"— Robby Donoho (@RobbyDonoho) July 12, 2016
Richie Brown on Simmons: "I personally haven't seen the video. Jeffery has worked really hard. He wants to prove people wrong."— Robby Donoho (@RobbyDonoho) July 12, 2016
Richie Brown: Jeffery Simmons is a great teammate. He's doing really well, you can tell he's remorseful. pic.twitter.com/Kg84pPTMo4— Chris Hudgison (@ChrisHudgison) July 12, 2016
Ross asked about Jeffery Simmons multiple times. Said Mullen addressed team about decision, Simmons worked hard to get better since arrival.— Tyler Greever (@Tyler_Greever) July 12, 2016
Note on Jeffrey Simmons: AJ Jefferson says MSU coaches have cops, counselors, etc speak to team every couple months on crime, violence, etc.
— Joe Whelan (@WhelanABC3340) July 12, 2016