How will Dan Mullen round out his coaching staff at Mississippi State?

Posted by: Pete Roussel on Sunday February 02, 2014


Not a single name has emerged at Mississippi State, where Dan Mullen is preparing to fill the open position on his staff due to the departure of offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach Les Koenning to Texas.  Mullen is keeping things very close to the vest. 

Mississippi State finished the season with consecutive wins over Arkansas, Ole Miss, and Rice to finish 7-6. The clear No. 1 priority of the off-season was retaining defensive coordinator Geoff Collins, who was rewarded with a multi-year contract worth $1.2 million.

Usually when not a single name emerges, it’s a sign that a promotion from within is likely coming, but I’m not certain that Mullen will promote from within the staff.  I am certain, however, that Mullen’s decision is incredibly important and will vastly impact the future of the program.

So what’s the dilemma?

You can bet Mullen is pondering how to go to the next level offensively and with special teams.  Mississippi State does not have a special teams coordinator, so Mullen puts a lot of energy himself into that phase of the game during week as the head coach.

Mullen will also decide if he is going to continue to call the plays offensively, as he did this season.  Very few head coaches call the plays offensively at the BCS level because it’s a burden to call plays and manage the game / clock especially during end-of-half or end-of-game situations, though Gus Malzahn and Jimbo Fisher each call the plays for their respective teams. 

There are options:

Option #1: Hire an offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach and let that person change the terminology and call the plays.

Option #2: Promote from within, perhaps by naming offensive line coach John Hevesy and wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales as co-offensive coordinators, and hire a quarterbacks coach.  (This scenario begs the question: Who is the voice / leader of the offense?)

Option #3: Rearrange some staff assignments, hire a special teams coordinator and an offensive coordinator and/or quarterbacks coach. (There is talk that Mullen could shift a coach to quarterbacks.)

Quarterbacks Dak Prescott and Damian Williams each look to have a bright future, so their continued development respectively is critical, which leads me believe that Mullen would be wise to hire a coach with a proven track record of developing quarterbacks. So much of your success in the SEC hinges upon the play of your quarterback(s) and the margin of error is slim. 

It will be interesting to see just after Signing Day what Mullen has up his sleeve. Can he pull off a blockbuster move, which would propel Mississippi State as having one of the best off-seasons in regards to coaching staff moves, especially considering the Bulldogs were able to retain Geoff Collins.

Mark Richt had the vision to hire Jeremy Pruitt.  Could Mullen pull off something that makes us all say, ‘Whoa, that’s big for Mississippi State.’ That’s not always the solution, but it’s certainly a possibility and it might be the right time to do so.

Let’s face it, the Bulldogs have momentum heading into spring practice.  And don’t forget, Davis-Wade Stadium will be better than ever next season due to the impressive end zone expansion and fan experience. 

With the right coaches, momentum, end zone expansion, and a non-conference schedule that includes Southern Miss, UAB, at South Alabama, and UT-Martin, the Bulldogs could be paving the way for something big in 2014.

Stay tuned to the Coaching Search Ticker.

Pete Roussel is a valuable resource for coaches, athletic directors, NFL front-office personnel, and college football enthusiasts. A former college football coach, Roussel shares insight on coaches 365 days a year and is recognized as the most trusted expert on coaching transactions. Follow @CoachingSearch on twitter and send your feedback to pete@coachingsearch.comtest