September 9, 2011 8:52:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen can barely get out of the month of August without rumors of his imminent departure from Starkville.
Mullen, who is 15-11 at MSU, addressed rumors as a guest on Garry Parrish''s ESPN Radio show in Memphis that he likely will leave MSU after another successful season.
"Already after week one?" Mullen said in a joking fashion. "You know what, it means you''re winning. That''s what I take from it, and I''d much rather be on that side of it then losing and having people want to get rid of you."
Mullen signed a four-year contract worth $10.6 million days before the 2011 Gator Bowl and after reports multiple reports surfaced he had talked with University of Miami officials about their head coach opening. MSU Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin confirmed at the announcement of the contract that the buyout for any school to hire Mullen away from MSU is $1.4 million.
"At one point last year I was spotted at six locations in one day throughout the United States of America," Mullen said Thursday on the radio show. "You know where I was? I was in my bathroom puking after catching the flu and my wife thought it was funny. She''d come in while I''m still sick and say, ''Look honey you''ve been spotted here, too.'' "
LSU receiver out for Thursday night game at MSU
LSU officials confirmed in a media release Thursday evening junior wide receiver Russell Shepard is serving a three-game suspension for NCAA violations.
Shepard, a Houston native, has been practicing with the team and will be eligible to play in the Tigers'' game Sept. 24 at West Virginia. Multiple reports surfaced about the length of Shepard''s punishment Wednesday evening, but school spokespeople didn''t comment until Thursday.
The NCAA ruled Shepard ineligible for discussing an ongoing NCAA investigation with teammate Craig Loston. The probe centered on Houston-based Willie Lyles, who was paid by LSU and Oregon for his recruiting service information.
Shepard also was investigated about his off-campus living arrangement this past summer, which forced his appearance at Southeastern Conference Media Days in July to be canceled.
Shepard missed the Tigers'' season opening 40-27 victory against the University of Oregon and will also miss Saturday''s game against Northwestern State and the SEC opener at MSU five days later.
Shepard was expected to be in the starting lineup this season. Last season, he caught 33 passes for 254 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 226 yards and two scores.
Mullen talks with Utah State staff
Mullen reached out to Utah State coach Gary Anderson on Sunday after the Aggies surrendered a 10-point lead in the final four minutes and lost to then-No. 23 Auburn 42-38 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Not only was Mullen trying to console Anderson, who served as the University of Utah''s defensive line coach when Mullen was with the Utes in 2004, but he also was trying to gain insight about how the Aggies used a running style that resembles the Bulldogs'' scheme to gain 227 yards on the ground Saturday at Auburn.
"I talked to him briefly," Mullen said. "It''s tough after such a tough loss for them that he was obviously really disappointed."
Mullen then talked about Utah State''s dominance up front Thursday afternoon on ESPN Radio''s Scott Van Pelt Show.
"That Utah State team, when you watch the film, is a very well-coached team, and Gary Anderson does a great job and is a very physical football team," Mullen said. "They had some experience and Auburn was breaking in some new players."
1. Columbus boys beat Callaway HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. Piper realizes life-long dream in athletics at MSU COLLEGE SPORTS
3. SEC women's basketball squads off to strong starts COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Bell, Bulldogs ready for Egg Bowl battle COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Starkville High ready for North State championship game HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS