Thoughts of the Day: December 11, 2019

NEVER SAY NEVER BUT MULLEN ISN’T BOLTING FOR THE NFL

Not this year anyway.


Bruce Feldman of The Athletic says that NFL analyst Daniel Jeremiah thinks Dan Mullen could be the next coach of the Dallas Cowboys. Jeremiah bases this conclusion on the fact Mullen was Cowboys QB Dak Prescott’s college coach.


Would Mullen listen if Jerry Jones called and wanted to talk about the Cowboys job, providing of course, Jones axes current head coach Jason Garrett? Mullen will listen. You can bet the farm on that, but you can also bet the farm that’s all Mullen will do.


How do I know this?


Well, when he was at Mississippi State, Mullen had numerous opportunities to go someplace else. Almost yearly, in fact. Mullen always listened but he always elected to stay right where he was and ended up spending nine years in Starkville. Tennessee wanted Mullen in 2017 and perhaps would have made a strong enough offer to land him as head coach but when Scott Stricklin called it was all over. This was the job Mullen wanted all along and this is the job he has rebuilt.


Key in on that word rebuilt. When Mullen took the Mississippi State job there were plenty of critics who said he was making a whopper of a mistake. Mississippi State was a graveyard they told him. You can’t win there consistently. He won 69 games in nine years and got the Bulldogs to a school record eight straight bowl games. Nobody does that at Mississippi State.

The Florida job wasn’t as bad a rebuild as Mississippi State. Things were so bad in Starkville that it was like a blank slate. Anything positive Mullen did at MSU would have been viewed gratefully. At Florida, the previous coach left a roster filled with holes and not enough talent to really compete at the highest levels of the SEC, but the main problem was cultural. And, that’s where we’ve seen the biggest difference at UF. Mullen has changed the football culture. Just doing okay is no longer good enough. Mullen has let it be known on no uncertain terms that he accepts nothing less than total dedication to a high standard and the standard goes well beyond okay.


All this has bearing on why Mullen will listen if Jerry Jones calls, but it also tells you why he will stay put at the University of Florida. It has everything to do with principle. Mullen has made it abundantly clear that he won’t ask players or assistant coaches or staffers to do anything he isn’t willing to do or hasn’t done himself. He demands loyalty from everyone in the program and to leave for the Cowboys just two years into the Florida rebuild – which isn’t anywhere near complete – would be hypocritical at best.


He’s not that kind of guy.


You never say never so there might indeed come a day when Mullen will elect to bolt for the NFL, but it won’t be this year.


PITTS, GREENARD AND CJ MAKE COACHES ALL-SEC TEAM

The SEC Coaches announced their All-SEC team Tuesday and the three guys who should have made first team – tight end Kyle Pitts, defensive end Jonathan Greenard and cornerback CJ Henderson – all were selected. Pitts and Greenard made first team when the Associated Press announced its All-SEC team on Monday but Henderson wasn’t selected to either first or second team which is an absolute joke.


There were some other inequities from the AP All-SEC that the coaches properly addressed. Georgia running back D’Andre Swift was named first team along with LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Swift made second team AP. He and Edwards-Helaire were easily the best two running backs in the league. LSU safety Grant Delpit, who is likely to make first team All-America, was a second team selection for the AP. He made first team for the coaches. Another AP slight was Georgia corner J.R. Reed who made neither first or second team. He was first team by the coaches.


And then there is the offensive line. The AP named Drake Jackson of Kentucky the first team center and Georgia’s Trey Hill second team. Neither one is as good as Lloyd Cushenberry of LSU, who was first team by the coaches, who named Alabama’s Landon Dickerson second team. Dickerson, it must be noted, transferred from Florida State.


SEC COACHING UPDATES AND OTHER STUFF

Ole Miss: Lane Kiffin is not retaining offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez, O-line coach Jack Bicknell Jr., receivers coach Jacob Peeler or tight ends coach Calvin Magee … In explaining why he fired Matt Luke, athletic director Keith Carter said, “The apathy surrounding the program was too much to overcome.” Attendance in 2019 took a 13% dip and has decreased every year since 2015.

Missouri: New HBC Eli Drinkwitz says he will be his own offensive coordinator and playcaller. He plays to hire a special teams coordinator. D-line coach Brick Haley, safeties coach Ryan Walters and DB coach David Gibbs have been offered to remain on the Mizzou staff.

Georgia: Former Ole Miss HBC Matt Luke has been hired to coach the O-line at Georgia. Luke served as the Ole Miss O-line coach from 2011-16 ... Kirby Smart got a $100,000 bonus for getting the Bulldogs in a New Year’s Six bowl game.

LSU: Coach O has earned a $200,000 bonus for winning the SEC Championship and another $225,000 bonus for LSU making it to the College Football Playoff … Joe Brady has won the Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach.

South Carolina: Will Muschamp declined his automatic $200,000 raise to pay for a raise for running backs coach Thomas Brown, who’s pay increases to $500,000 … Mike Bobo’s contract is official. It’s two years at $1.2 million per.

Auburn: Chad Morris is officially the new OC. Arkansas still owes him $10 million over the next three years so Gus Malzahn gets a brilliant offensive mind on the cheap since he doesn’t have to pay top dollar plus he probably lands a four-star quarterback in Chandler Morris, Chad’s son.

Kentucky: The Wildcats could be losing their offensive coordinator. Eddie Gran is interviewing with Florida Atlantic and is thought to be the favorite to get the job. If Gran gets the job that almost certainly means Kendal Briles will be going to Ole Miss to work with former FAU coach Lane Kiffin.


MORE COACHING STUFF FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY Colorado State: Just when it seemed Butch Jones was all set to be hired as the HBC there were some snags in the negotiations. Now it seems former Indiana HBC and Ohio State O-line/OC Kevin Wilson has the inside track on the job.

UNLV: One day ago, it seemed everything had been agreed to so that Oregon OC Marcus Arroyo would be head coach. Well, not so fast my friends. Apparently, the deal is off.

Liberty: Hugh Freeze has signed a five-year contract extension that will pay him $2 million a year.

South Florida: New HBC Jeff Scott got a five-year deal worth $12.5 million and will get $3.5 million for assistant coach salaries.

New Mexico: While the Lobos search for the next head coach, they’ve agreed to pay Bob Davie an $825,000 buyout stretched over 30 months.


GOOD QUOTES FOR WEDNESDAY

Kirk Herbstreit of ESPN on the possibility that Tua Tagovailoa will return for his senior season at Alabama after spending time with the injured quarterback: “I just felt like, listening to Tua, there is a part of him that is not comfortable about how he went out. I don’t think his career has gone the way he had hoped and there is a part of him – as much as he is looking at the money – that is looking at ‘man, can you imagine if I come back and Dylan Moses comes back and this guy comes back? Can you imagine what we can do next year?’ He said that to me, so there is a part of that which he is evaluating. He told me the players will sit down have a meeting, talk about and figure out what direction they want to go in. I don’t know if they’ll all go one way or the other. I can just tell you what he told me. I would guess that it is still 50-50 right now, and then in the next few weeks he’ll let everybody know his intentions. I think he’s honestly really back and forth at this point.”


Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic on the hiring of Lane Kiffin as the football coach at Ole Miss: “He is a 44-year-old lightning rod in the sport with a track record that borders on the ridiculous, from breaking NCAA rules by sending recruiting hostesses to visit high school prospects while at Tennessee to deflating footballs while at USC to sending numerous tweets that cross the proverbial lien. He has said he’s matured and learned from his experiences, with a nod to the value of coaching alongside Saban in particular, but he has never really muzzled himself. His personality and his candor are what make him polarizing, but they also make him must-see TV and a must-follow on Twitter – especially when his teams are good but most definitely when they aren’t. They are what keep him in the national spotlight, whether he’s in Boca Raton or Tuscaloosa.”


Jesse Temple of The Athletic on why Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor should have at least merited an invitation to the Heisman Trophy ceremonies in New York this weekend: “Earning a seat as a Heisman finalist is not a lifetime achievement award. However, the fact that Taylor has rushed for new fewer than 1,909 yards in any of his three seasons at Wisconsin, has 6,080 career rushing yards and will go down as one of the great running backs in FBS history but won’t be a Heisman Trophy finalist is astounding. Taylor finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting as a true freshman in 2017. He finished ninth in 2018. Only five FBS players have rushed for more yards than Taylor, including bowl games. Four of them – Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne, Texas’ Ricky Williams, Pitt’s Tony Dorsett and USC’s Charles White – won the Heisman Trophy.”


Paul Finebaum of the SEC Network on Lane Kiffin becoming the nemesis of Nick Saban: “I firmly believe that Lane Kiffin is going to be the first Saban disciple to beat the GOAT.”


RANDOM THOUGHTS: Caroline Wozniacki plans to retire from professional tennis after the 2020 Australian Open. Winner of 30 career titles on the WTA circuit, she is married to former Gator and NBA star David Lee … A.J. Dillon of Boston College will skip the Birmingham Bowl and enter the NFL Draft. Dillon leaves BC 227 yards short of the all-time Atlantic Coast Conference rushing record … Didi Gregorius left the New York Yankees for a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies that will pay him $14 million … Stephen Strasburg signed a seven-year deal worth $245 million to stay with the Washington Nationals. The New York Yankees are said to be offering free agent pitcher Gerrit Cole a deal that will eclipse the Strasburg deal … The finalists for the Joe Moore Award, given to the nation’s top college offensive line, are Alabama, LSU, Ohio State and Oregon. If you are a betting man, put your money on LSU.

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