November 29, 2011 4:48:00 PM
STARKVILLE - Well....let's go ahead and start the year three version of the Dan Mullen silly season.
A source has told ESPN.com college football reporter Joe Schad that Mullen is the top candidate to replace the fired Joe Paterno at Penn State University.
"Great," Mullen said sarcastically. "Every time a job comes open doesn't my name come up?"
A Penn State trustee and the coach of the four-time defending national champion women's volleyball team will be part of a six-person university committee that will lead the search committee according to a statement Penn State acting athletic director Dave Joyner.
The search committee includes trustee Ira Lubert, the head of private investment management firms, and longtime women's volleyball coach Russ Rose.
Also on the committee are Linda Caldwell, the faculty athletics representative; emeritus communications professor John Nichols, chair of the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics, and associate athletic director Charmelle Green.
"The mix of search committee members is intentional," Joyner said Monday night in a separate statement. "We're looking for a broad perspective and representation of the entire university."
Mullen, who is 20-17 in head coaching career at Mississippi State University, was born in Drexel Hill, Penn., and his father is a graduate of Penn State in 1966.
The Bulldogs third-year coach declined comment on the speculation during a media session.
"You know our policy, we talk Mississippi State football and that's all we talk about," Mullen said. "I cheered for them and Notre Dame. But I grew up in a Catholic household.....probably no different than a kid in Starkville and raised to be a Mississippi State fan."
Mullen said he was scheduled to have a team meeting with the MSU players at 4 p.m. to hand them a bowl schedule and make sure their academic situation is in order.
"I tell (the MSU players) I'm happy here and let's worry about being here," Mullen said. "Every single job that comes open last year my name came up with. I have people texting me saying someone is saying this or that about you. I'm pretty busy so I don't have much attention to it."
Mullen will be in Jackson for back-to-back nights as MSU cornerbacks Johnthan Banks is one of 10 finalists for the Conerly Trophy. The award ceremony, which is presented to the best college football player in the Magnolia state, is being Tuesday night at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.
"He's had a good year (but) we kind of had a team effort this year," Mullen said. "I don't know if he's a better candidate for it than Fletcher Cox, Vick Ballard."
Sources close to situation said Mullen has had discussions last December with University of Miami officials about their head coach opening.
Less than 48 hours before the 2011 Gator Bowl, MSU officials and Mullen agreed on a new four-year contract worth $10.6 million and includes a $1.4 million buyout.
"I think it's great for the program," Mullen said about the rumors. "I would imagine there's two rumors about you. Either rumors you're going somewhere or rumors you're getting fired. So I'll take the going somewhere rumor than the getting fired rumor."
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
4. They Were All Very Merry at Pfaff's BOOK REVIEWS