MSU's Mullen handles spotlight at SEC Media Days

July 23, 2009 9:16:00 AM

Danny P Smith -


HOOVER, Ala. -- Mississippi State''s Dan Mullen seemed to handle his first experience as a head football coach at Southeastern Conference Media Days just fine. 


Nothing seemed to faze Mullen on Wednesday afternoon at the Wynfrey Hotel or wipe the smile off his face. 


Mississippi State junior linebacker K.J. Wright said Mullen is always smiling and what the media saw was nothing new. 


"He has a huge personality and is a good people person," Wright said. 


With almost 1,000 credentialed media for SEC Media Days (the largest ever), it can be an intimidating event for a new head coach. 


Mullen said he was raised in a theater because his mother taught ballet for years so crowds don''t bother him and said "it''s not a big deal." 


Being the offensive coordinator for Urban Meyer at the University of Florida the last four years helped Mullen also. 


"When you''re (in the SEC) that spotlight is on you 24-hours a day and seven-days a week," Mullen said. "Whether you are the coach, a coordinator or someone who takes notes on the sideline, the spotlight is on the SEC so it doesn''t stress me out that much." 


Mullen went from room to room at the Wynfrey Hotel and didn''t attempt to dodge the cameras, microphones and tape recorders of reporters. 


"As a first time head coach, I get to go around and enjoy it," Mullen said. "I should''ve brought a video camera myself." 


When it came time to deliver the address to the print and Internet media gathered in the Wynfrey Hotel''s A&B room, Mullen didn''t try to dodge questions. He almost didn''t leave enough time for any questions. 


Mullen easily had the longest opening statement (15 minutes) of the four coaches on the first day. 


"I think the longest one may have been by Lou Holtz when he was at South Carolina," SEC spokesman Chuck Dunlap said. "(Mullen''s) was a pretty good one." 


He began his opening statement with a question, "Everybody having fun?" 


Mullen sure seemed to be having a good time. 


He was so comfortable behind the podium that he took the time to Twitter his experience and the message delivered was "I am on stage." 


"That''s the new way to do things," Mullen said of Twitter. "I''m tech savvy right here. I''m only going to answer questions through Twitter or Facebook so I can be the cutting-edge young coach up here." 


One of the interested spectators in attendance was Mississippi State Athletic Director Greg Byrne. 


Mullen''s ability to promote Mississippi State football and his plans for the program didn''t surprise Byrne. It''s something he''s come to expect. 


"He kind of laid it all out which is good," Byrne said. "Coach Mullen is a smart guy and he obviously brings so much experience and intensity. His passion for college football and passion of working with the kids is actually what we need." 


Mullen was actually a calming force for Wright and junior offensive tackle Derek Sherrod, of Caledonia, for what they might face at their first SEC Media Days. 


Wright said Mullen was giving tips on the plane how to handle the situation and Sherrod saw how Mullen took his own suggestions and made them work. 


"Coach Mullen is always pretty much calm, cool and collected," Sherrod said. "I wouldn''t expect anything less from coach Mullen. I honestly couldn''t tell he is a first-year head coach. He knows everything and seems comfortable with everything he''s doing." 


There was one moment when Mullen became noticeably emotional while talking about his relationship with Florida quarterback Tim Tebow. 


"I probably have more respect for him than anybody I''ve ever met," Mullen said as his voice began to crack. "Just an amazing kid. He taught me a valuable lesson in life and that''s if you can make an impact on someone''s life, it''s your obligation to do that. He is one of the most amazing young people out there."