December 30, 2010 4:26:00 PM
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Any concerns over Dan Mullen''s future at Mississippi State were put to rest today after athletics director Scott Stricklin announced he and Mullen had agreed to a new contract.
Still pending approval from the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees, Mullen''s new contract will see him earn $10.6 million over the next four years.
The second-year MSU football coach will make an average of $2.65 million per season, though his contract has an escalator clause that will raise the annual amount each season. Stricklin declined comment on how much Mullen''s deal would increase each year.
Stricklin said he will propose to the IHL the state-paid portion of Mullen''s contract be $250,000. The rest will be paid by the privately-funded Bulldog Foundation.
Mullen''s buyout will raise from $750,000 to $1.4 million.
"It feels good," Mullen said following today''s practice. "I want to be at Mississippi State, and Mississippi State wants me so everybody is pretty happy."
Mullen, who''ll coach the Bulldogs against Michigan in Saturday''s Gator Bowl, will receive a significant raise from the $1.5 million he made this season and the $1.2 million he made in ''09.
Mullen''s predecessor, Sylvester Croom, made $1.8 million in his final season (''08).
According to figures gathered by USA Today, Mullen will rank in the middle of the Southeastern Conference in terms of annual salary.
Mullen''s old deal ranked next to last in the league.
Stricklin said Mullen''s new annual salary will rank in the top 20 nationally.
Mullen''s incentive package, which will see him earn over $200,000 in incentives this season, will remain unchanged from his previous deal.
In Mullen''s two season at MSU, he''s steered the team to an 10-straight sellouts at Davis Wade Stadium and helped boost ticket revenuse from $5 million in ''08 to $8 million this season.
Mullen led MSU to a 5-7 record last season and an 8-4 clip this year. The No. 21 Bulldogs will face Michigan in the Gator Bowl on Saturday.
"You kind of figured this day would come with any kind of success," Stricklin said. "We want to be a place, whether it''s coaches, or student-athletes, or staff feel like that if they come to Mississippi State they have opportunities, and those opportunities are to stay and build something special and to have security and grow."
Today''s announcement caps a two-and-a-half month negotiation process between Mullen and Stricklin.
Though Mullen''s name was floated around coaching vacancies at the University of Florida and University of Miami, Mullen never interviewed for another job.
He repeatedly pledged to carry on his plan to turn MSU into a national power, deflecting any rumors about replacing former boss Urban Meyer at Florida.
"I never had any interest in leaving here this year, and now with this deal I certainly have no interest in leaving any time in the future," Mullen said. "I''m very happy here."
As for the time it took to extend Mullen''s deal, Stricklin said he wasn''t in a rush because he felt comfortable Mullen wanted to be at MSU. .
"It''s all market-driven, not emotion-driven," Stricklin said. "That''s why these things take some time. We''ve got to make sure we''re in a position to have a program that''s wining consistently. Who''s leading that program is important."
Wide receiver Chad Bumphis, who was leaning toward signing with Florida coming out of Tupelo High, chose MSU because of his relationship with Mullen.
He said Mullen told him about the new deal before practice.
"When he recruited us, he said he was gonna stick around for a while," Bumphis said. "The way he''s turned this program around, you have no choice but to be excited.
"With him leaving, everybody just wanted to know. I''m just finally happy that it''s all over."
Mullen''s assistants will receive raises, though figures are still being sorted out.
Mullen will enter the offseason looking to replace former wide receivers coach Mark Hudspeth, who recently accepted the head coach job at Louisiana-Lafayette.
Graduate assistant Angelo Mirando has been coaching wide receivers during bowl preparations.
One of the major points of negotiations between Mullen and Stricklin was enhancing facilities.
MSU currently is in early stages of developing a new football practice facility and expanding Davis Wade Stadium.
Though a timetable for upgrades isn''t in the new contract, Mullen made it clear he and Stricklin are on the same wavelength about what the program needs going forward.
"It''s a big thing for Scott as well, with the vision for where we want to go with the program," Mullen said. "We want to be a destination school for young men, not just in the state of Mississippi, but in the surrounding areas that they know they have big-time facilities, a big-time stadium, great crowd support and a championship football team that they can come play for."