NOTE­BOOK

Starkville Daily News - - SOUTH­EAST­ERN CON­FER­ENCE FOOT­BALL -

2009 sea­son, there have been ru­mors Mullen was as good as gone.

Just as he’s done so many times be­fore though, Mullen said Mon­day at his weekly press con­fer­ence he’s just fine coach­ing the Bull­dogs re­gard­less of what oth­ers might say or write.

“I love the (job) I have,” Mullen said. “I think what you see is, what we’ve been able to build Mis­sis­sippi State into. I think ev­ery­body has an opin­ion in the world of what I should and shouldn’t do. Most peo­ple that know me, and friends that have known me for a long time, know I like my own opin­ion. I’m not re­ally in­ter­ested in other peo­ple’s opinions all that much. I like my own opin­ion, and my wife’s. I lis­ten to her too. You have no choice but to do that.”

Mullen has been linked to nu­mer­ous open­ings through the years. Jobs at Ore­gon, Mi­ami and oth­ers

have opened and been filled in re­cent years with Mullen’s name re­port­edly in the mix dur­ing the hir­ing pro­cesses. Through it all, Mullen is still in Starkville, where he has lifted MSU to never-be­fore-seen heights.

It re­mains to be seen whether or not one of the cur­rent ru­mors will come to fruition and Mullen gets an op­por­tu­nity and decides to leave the Bull­dogs. For his part though, Mullen maintains he is in­cred­i­bly happy right where he is at.

“When you look around, we’ve been able to build this (foot­ball) fa­cil­ity,” Mullen said. “I have an (ath­letic di­rec­tor) that’s been a coach. I have a pres­i­dent that hugely sup­ports our foot­ball pro­gram. We’ve built a team that’s a top 25 pro­gram in my mind. We had an in­cred­i­ble at­mos­phere (last) Satur­day night (for the Alabama game). I have a great job.”

Avoid­ing Bama hang­over

There’s lit­tle doubt last Satur­day’s

31-24 loss to Alabama was a heart­break­ing de­feat for Mis­sis­sippi State.

MSU knocked at the door of up­set­ting the Crim­son Tide, but couldn’t quite seal the deal as Alabama ral­lied and scored the gamewin­ning touch­down with un­der a minute to play.

There’s lit­tle time for the Bull­dogs to re­group though. This Satur­day, MSU will be in Ar­kan­sas for an 11 a.m. game and State will have to prove it left the Alabama loss in the past.

“It’s a big deal to see what type of team we are,” Mullen said of Satur­day’s up­com­ing game. “It’s a big chal­lenge for our guys. If we think we’re a good foot­ball team, we have to find a way to be bet­ter this week than we were last week. That’s what re­ally good teams do.

“We have the op­por­tu­nity to still have a great sea­son ahead of us and do a lot of re­ally good things. We have three losses to teams in the top seven, so we want to fin­ish

this sea­son strong and hopefully put our­selves as a top 10 or top 15 pro­gram in the coun­try.”

In­jury up­dates

Mis­sis­sippi State wide re­ceiver Gabe Myles will again be out for this Satur­day’s game at Ar­kan­sas as he con­tin­ues to re­cover from a foot in­jury, but the Bull­dogs might get back another se­nior wide­out who has missed ac­tion of late.

Don­ald Gray has missed MSU’s last two games with a groin in­jury, but Mullen in­di­cated Mon­day Gray is ques­tion­able for this week with at least a chance to get on the field.

“I think (team train­ers/doc­tors) are pretty op­ti­mistic he could be back this week,” Mullen said. “I wasn’t sure of that, but they are op­ti­mistic.”

Line­backer Dez Har­ris might also be back, but it’s un­cer­tain. Har­ris left last Satur­day’s Alabama game with a thigh bruise, but Mullen

said whether Har­ris plays or not this week isn’t re­ally cen­tered on the thigh bruise.

“There are some other com­pli­ca­tions a lit­tle bit with it,” Mullen said. “It’s not the ini­tial in­jury that is go­ing to be the is­sue with him.”

One in­jured Bull­dog who will al­most cer­tainly be back on the field is safety Bran­don Bryant. He left last Satur­day’s game and it was feared Bryant had suf­fered a con­cus­sion. It was de­ter­mined he didn’t, but Mullen and the Bull­dogs elected to keep Bryant out the rest of the game any­way.

“They said he was OK (Sun­day) com­ing into the train­ing room,” Mullen said. “He just hit the ground right at the wrong spot on the head and was kind of knocked out a lit­tle bit, but he came to. He wanted to go back in the game, but we didn’t let him. There was a dis­cus­sion if it would’ve been close to clear him to go­ing back in, but it wasn’t some­thing we felt com­fort­able with.”

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