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2014 Maxwell Football Club National Coach of the Year
Seventh Season at MSU
No one has had more of a profound impact on shaping Mississippi State football into a national contender than Dan Mullen. The 2014 National and Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year, Mullen begins his seventh season in Starkville after guiding the Bulldogs into unprecedented territory, including the fastest ascent from unranked to No. 1 in college football history.
Six years into his tenure, Mullen (46-31, .597) owns the highest winning percentage as a State coach since the late Allyn McKeen from 1939-48 (.764), and he is third in school history in victories (46). Prior to Mullen’s arrival, the school record for consecutive bowl game appearances was three. Under his guidance, the Bulldogs have been to a school-record five consecutive bowl games, including their first Orange Bowl berth in 73 years in December 2014.
No coach in school history had ever been a finalist for a national coach of the year honor until Mullen won the Maxwell Football Club’s National Coach of the Year award in 2014. He also claimed the Associated Press SEC Coach of the Year award that same fall. Mullen became the MSU all-time leader in bowl game victories with three when the Bulldogs trounced Rice 44-7 in the 2013 AutoZone Liberty Bowl. On top of that, Mullen has shined in the Egg Bowl (4-2), owning the second-highest winning percentage (.667) against Ole Miss.
The year was capped with a berth in the Orange Bowl for the first time since 1941. Mullen’s squad rewrote the MSU record books in 2014, shattering 22 single-season records, including 10 by National Player of the Year finalist Prescott. The Bulldogs led the SEC in total offense for the first time since 1982, putting up a school-record 513.8 yards per game. State earned its highest Associated Press poll finish since 1940 (No. 11), and it tied its highest finish ever in the USA Today Amway Coaches poll (No. 12).
Prescott delivered the finest season by an MSU signal caller in school history and finished higher in the Heisman Trophy vote than any MSU player by taking eighth in December 2014. Prescott continued a long line of Mullen developed quarterbacks that includes Alex Smith and Tim Tebow.
MSU has shattered 67 team or individual single-season and career statistical records under Mullen. The Bulldogs have also produced a first-team All-America selection in five straight years. Linebacker Benardrick McKinney became the latest recipient in 2014 before being selected in the 2015 NFL Draft.
In 2013, MSU showed constant improvement and went on an inspiring three-game winning streak to close the season despite a rash of injuries. After a hard-fought game against No. 1 Alabama on Nov. 16, the Bulldogs bounced back a week later with their first victory ever at Arkansas. Then on a cold Thanksgiving night, Mullen continued his dominance of the Egg Bowl rivalry as MSU, on a gutsy final drive engineered by an injured Prescott, claimed its fourth Egg Bowl win in five seasons with a 17-10 overtime triumph.
The Bulldogs closed the year racking up a bowl school-record 533 yards to defeat Rice 44-7 in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn. The 37-point margin of victory was the largest of the 2013 college bowl season as MSU finished the year with a 7-6 record.
With the nation’s toughest schedule in 2009, State’s rushing attack, led by first-team All-SEC selection and current NFL running back Anthony Dixon, finished ninth nationally with a 227.6 rushing yard average per game. State averaged 371.9 yards of total offense per game, the most since 2000 at the time.
Mullen’s first season concluded with a rousing 41-27 victory over MSU’s in-state rival, which brought the Golden Egg back to Starkville. He became the only the third Mississippi State coach to win his Egg Bowl debut since 1939, joining Allyn McKeen and Jackie Sherrill.
During the previous four seasons as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of Florida, Mullen molded a Heisman Trophy, Davey O’Brien and Maxwell Award-winning quarterback, along with a Rimington Trophy finalist and a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist.
In 2008 alone, Mullen’s offensive attack ranked third nationally in scoring – averaging better than 45 points per game as the Gators scored at least 30 points in 12-of-13 games. The 587 points scored eclipsed the previous Florida mark, set in 1996.
Florida rushed for a school-record 41 touchdowns that season and UF’s 80 rushing touchdowns over the two seasons ranked second nationally. Overall, Florida’s rushing yardage of 2,987 ranked ninth nationally in 2008 and was the third-highest total in school history.
Seven offensive players were recognized as All-SEC selections following the season in which Mullen helped UF claim its second SEC Championship and a chance to play for its second national championship in three seasons.
The Gator offense ranked first in the SEC in scoring offense and total offense for a second-straight season in 2008, averaging 45.2 points and 442.4 yards per game. Under Mullen’s tutelage in 2007, UF averaged 42.5 points and 457.2 yards.
In 2007, Mullen directed the Gator offense to the third-highest point total ever by a UF unit and the top single-season marks for rushing touchdowns and third-down conversion percentage. Florida’s offense scored 75 touchdowns, second most in the SEC.
Mullen orchestrated a UF attack that was the only one in the nation to have rushed for a touchdown and passed for a touchdown in every game during the season. He also helped UF score on 83-of-152 drives in 2007 for a league-best 54.6 percent, marking the best number since the stat was tracked by the SEC in 2000. Florida additionally averaged 7.0 yards per play that year, the fourth-best total in the nation. Lastly, the Gators averaged 5.3 yards per rush, the second-best number in school history.
In 2007, Mullen helped coach sophomore quarterback Tim Tebow into a Heisman Trophy, Maxwell and Davey O’Brien award winner, 78th Sullivan Award winner and AP First-Team All-American among other honors.
He also tutored six offensive players to the All-SEC team: Tebow, NFL Pro Bowler Percy Harvin, Cornelius Ingram, Brandon James, Jim Tartt and Drew Miller.
Mullen played an integral role in Florida’s 2006 national championship, overseeing an offense that averaged 29.7 points and 396.1 yards per game. In the BCS National Championship Game, he engineered an attack that produced 41 points against a top-ranked Ohio State squad that was limiting opponents to less than 11 points per game on the year. Under Mullen’s tutelage, quarterback Chris Leak opened the contest by going 9-for-9 for 99 yards and a touchdown en route to earning Offensive MVP honors.
The 2006 Gator offense posted 76 plays of 20 yards or more, 19 of which went for touchdowns. Florida passed for 29 touchdowns in 2006, while Leak ranked among the national leaders with 23 scoring tosses. Tebow matched UF’s then single-season record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with eight scores, and his 5.3 yards per carry average placed second nationally among signal callers. Six different players averaged at least 5.0 yards per carry.
In 2005, Chad Jackson played his way to Biletnikoff Award semifinalist status after matching the UF single-season record with 88 receptions, a figure that led the SEC and finished sixth nationally. Center Mike Degory was also named a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, given annually to the nation’s top center, during that campaign. Both earned first-team All-SEC honors under Mullen’s tutelage.
Mullen went to Florida from Utah with head coach Urban Meyer, with whom he had spent 10 seasons. While the quarterbacks coach at Utah, Mullen developed current NFL standout Alex Smith – the first overall selection in the 2005 NFL Draft – from a pocket passer into an efficient executor of the spread, making him one of the most versatile threats in college football. Smith took over the starting job three games into Mullen’s tenure, passing for 2,247 yards and running for 452 to finish second in the Mountain West in total offense in 2003.
The 2004 campaign saw Smith earn National Player of the Year honors from The Sporting News and Sports Illustrated, while also becoming Utah’s first-ever Heisman Trophy finalist. Smith also garnered final consideration for the Davey O’Brien and Walter Camp National Player of the Year Awards. Smith passed for 2,952 yards and 32 touchdowns and ran for 631 yards and 10 scores on the year, ranking second in the nation with a 176.5 efficiency rating and leading the Utes to a perfect 12-0 season and a Fiesta Bowl championship. As a team, Utah finished the 2004 season third in the nation in scoring offense (45.3) and total offense (499.8).
Prior to his stint at Utah, Mullen served as quarterbacks’ coach at Bowling Green for two seasons, putting up 6,627 yards of total offense and scoring 81 touchdowns during that span. In 2002, quarterback Josh Harris threw for 2,425 yards, ran for 737 yards and completed the campaign as the nation’s third-leading scorer.
Mullen spent the two years before his Bowling Green stint as a graduate assistant at Notre Dame, and before that assisted with Syracuse’s 1998 BIG EAST championship and Orange Bowl run.
Off the field, Mullen’s players are constant achievers in the classroom and the community donating countless hours to the Starkville area and state of Mississippi. Twenty Bulldogs were named to the 2014 SEC Academic Fall Honor Roll. During Mullen’s entire six-year tenure at MSU, 110 players have earned the distinction of SEC Honor Roll recipient.
Mullen has helped the program improve its NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) nearly every year in his tenure, including the SEC’s fourth-best football APR with a score of 974 in 2013. During the historic run to No. 1 in 2014, the Bulldogs’ 2.76 grade point average was the program’s highest ever while 20 of the 21 seniors have earned undergraduate degrees.
A two-year starter at tight end for Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pa., Mullen earned first-team All-Centennial Conference honors as a senior. He is married to the former Megan West, and the couple has two children, one son (Canon) and one daughter (Breelyn).
Bowl Games as a Head Coach
Mullen's Year-by-Year Record
2009, Mississippi State, 5-7, 3-5
Mullen's NFL Players
Position Player (Draft Round) - College - Last Professional Team
“Even if Mississippi State loses three games by the end of the year, Mullen deserves an honor for transforming a historically downtrodden program into the No. 1 team in the nation -- no matter how long that ranking lasts. He’s one of the most respected coaches in the nation. He deserves it.”
“It took five years, but he (Dan Mullen) has absolutely changed the perception of Mississippi State football. Ranked No. 1 with a solid defense and a Heisman Trophy contender at QB, Mullen has built a program no one thought possible.”
“Dan Mullen is the guiding force behind this blooming program, nurturing it through an improbable growth spurt from doormat to decent to dominant. There isn't an ounce of fluke in what the Bulldogs are doing in Mullen's sixth season. No fan base is louder and prouder than Bulldog Nation right now.”
“So seriously this time, coach, how did you find the players to compete at Mississippi State? Mullen has answered the question this week the same way he has for the past five years — the same way every coach has always answered it — with sincere platitudes about hard work, chips on shoulders, and a personal drive to be the best.”
“Dan Mullen’s offense is machine-like.”