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Mississippi State Needs a Passionate Dan Mullen

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In order for Mississippi State football to have success, it needs intensity and passion from Dan Mullen.

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

December 10, 2008.

Dan Mullen is hired as Mississippi State's 32nd head football coach.

Before his hiring, the program was in the gutter. Fans were discouraged. It seemed as if we were going nowhere.

At halftime of Mississippi State basketball's game against Charlotte, Dan Mullen was introduced officially to Bulldog fans. Mullen, a 37-year-old who was just hours into his first head coaching job, proposed a goal for the Bulldog football program - to get back to Atlanta.

With the state of the program at that time, the goal seemed impossible. But, the fans who were sitting in the Humphrey Coliseum on that Wednesday night believed it could happen. For the first time, Dan Mullen showed his passion and dedication for the Mississippi State football program.

September 10, 2016.

Kickoff between Mississippi State and South Carolina is just minutes away. The team is on the sidelines. Music is blaring over Davis Wade Stadium. But, there seemed to be little to no energy in the air.

The Bulldogs boasted a record of 0-1, exactly one week since the worst loss of the Dan Mullen era, a 21-20 setback to South Alabama. The excitement of a new football season was suddenly tainted by a missed field goal that would have started Mississippi State's season on a positive note.

For the first conference game of the season, there was no energy. No passion. Things seemed artificial and bleak.

Dan Mullen was shown on the video boards. This was a man who had been scrutinized and chastised to a pulp by fans, the media, and pretty much everyone who keeps up with college football to the smallest extent, for offseason controversy and now a season-opening loss.

But, during that moment in time, Dan Mullen didn't care. He wanted things changed. And he wanted them changed at that exact moment.

He started throwing his arms in the air. He started yelling. He was fired up.

The crowd responded. The volume went up. Cowbells were ringing louder than ever. Thanks to some arm motions made by a man in a white shirt and visor over the course of just about five seconds, the game between Mississippi State and South Carolina changed completely, before it even started.

The Bulldogs went on to take a 24-0 lead at halftime in arguably the best half of football played by a Bulldog team since LSU in 2014.

It proved something. The Mississippi State football program lives and dies by the actions of Dan Mullen. And the one thing it so desperately needs the most is intensity. Passion. Energy. Enthusiasm. Juice. Relentless effort. All of those terms describe what Dan Mullen needs to offer to this football program.

When he first arrived in Starkville, he had that passion. It was proved immediately, starting with a close call with LSU, the battle with Tim Tebow and Urban Meyer, and a 41-27 victory over 25th ranked Ole Miss.

That carried over into 2010 with wins over Florida, Georgia, Ole Miss, and a blowout over Michigan in Mississippi State's first bowl game since 2007. If you were to put Dan Mullen's first two seasons into GIF form, it would be these, after the 24-12 victory over Georgia:

That's the Dan Mullen we need.

Even during the difficulties of 2013, Mullen never lost his intensity. He never lost his passion. He rallied the troops from a 4-6 record to a 7-6 record with overtime victories over Arkansas and Ole Miss, capped off with a 44-7 Liberty Bowl victory.

Dan Mullen's passion was at its peak in 2014, during the run to #1 in the country. He gave high-fives to the Mississippi State section after the win in Death Valley. He bear hugged John Hevesy after the win over Texas A&M. He cried after the win over Auburn.

We need that Dan Mullen.

Before the 2015 LSU game, he jumped up and down in the tunnel, firing the fans and team up. After the win over Arkansas, he danced in the locker room. After the Belk Bowl win, he danced during the trophy presentation.

We need that Dan Mullen.

For Mississippi State football to succeed, we need the Dan Mullen we saw this past Saturday in the 27-14 victory over South Carolina. The Dan Mullen that fires up the crowd, argues with officials, and gives a pep talk at midfield before resumption of play from a lightning delay.

We need a Dan Mullen with passion, intensity, and enthusiasm.

We need that Dan Mullen.