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Mississippi State Tabs Florida's Dan Mullen As Next Football Coach

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen
will be the new football coach at Mississippi State, moving from
the Southeastern Conference champions to one of the league's
perennial cellar dwellers.
Mullen was expected to arrive in Starkville later Wednesday and
will be introduced at a news conference Thursday.
He's been an assistant coach for 14 years and spent the last
eight with Florida coach Urban Meyer at Bowling Green, Utah and
Florida.
The top-ranked Gators won the SEC with a dominant offense led by
Tim Tebow and will play No. 2 Oklahoma for the BCS national
championship next month. It was not immediately clear if Mullen
would stay with the Gators through the title game.
Mullen replaces coach Sylvester Croom who resigned last month
after going 21-38 in five seasons as the SEC's first black football
coach. Since 2001, the Bulldogs have had only one winning season.
Meyer told reporters after the SEC championship game that Mullen
was in contact with Mississippi State athletic director Greg Byrne
about the job. The hiring was first reported by the Clarion-Ledger
of Jackson and the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo.
Byrne said he was looking for a coach who could jazz up
Mississippi State's woeful offense. Mullen led the Gators to a team
record for points in a season this year and has Tebow in the
running for a second Heisman Trophy.
He also helped develop quarterback Alex Smith into a No. 1 pick
in the NFL draft as quarterbacks coach at Utah.
The Gators led the nation in scoring last year and are third
this season with 45.5 points per game. Mullen directs the nation's
No. 18 offense (442.4 yards per game) and No. 11 rushing offense
(229.7 ypg).
The Gators run a spread option offense, the kind of attack that
would match the skills of incoming quarterback Tyler Russell of
Meridian, the Bulldogs' top recruit who has left his nonbinding
oral commitment to Mississippi State in place despite Croom's
departure.
Byrne interviewed other candidates for the job. Chris Peterson
of Boise State and Louisiana Tech coach Derek Dooley have both
denied interest in the job and Byrne also appears to have talked
with Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson.
Croom left the program Nov. 29 after the Bulldogs suffered a
humiliating 45-0 loss to archrival Mississippi. He said in a recent
television interview that he was prepared to make changes to his
coaching staff in order to please fans, boosters and Byrne, but
that Byrne wanted to head in a new direction.


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