December 1, 2011 5:03:00 PM
STARKVILLE - Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said on Sporting News radio Thursday he has never been contacted by any school including Penn State University.
In a Sporting News report, MSU Athletics Director Scott Stricklin said he hasn't heard from Penn State as well.
"I haven't been contacted by Penn State and Dan hasn't been contacted by Penn State," Stricklin said, to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. "It's not a story, period."
The Bulldogs third-year coach declined comment on the speculation during a media session Tuesday.
"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."
Penn State will conduct a wide-open search for a new football coach and focus on candidates with characteristics including honesty and integrity, the school's new president said.
The Nittany Lions fired Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno in his 46th season after child sex abuse charges were filed against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.
"As we go out to search for a head football coach, one of the first and foremost criteria is how that person would fit into the value system of Penn State, which clearly has to be honesty, integrity and commitment to excellence in academics," Penn State president Rod Erickson said Thursday in an interview with The Associated Press.
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.
1. W to host provocative exhibition of contemporary art ENTERTAINMENT
3. MSU to hold Freedom Summer Conference COMMUNITY