The expectations at Mississippi State have changed dramatically from the time Dan Mullen arrived in Starkville.
As far as Mullen is concerned, that’s a good thing.
The Bulldogs have had three straight winning seasons capped by three straight bowl appearances.
Prior to Mullen’s hiring in 2009, Mississippi State had enjoyed just one winning season in the previous eight years. So, clearly, he has the program pointed in the right direction.
The big question now, as Mullen enters his fifth season, is: What comes next?
“What we’ve created here is a level of stability and a level of high expectations,” Mullen said. “I think when I first got here, the expectations were, ‘Boy, I hope we go to a bowl game.’ Now, that’s become the norm for us. I believe to win a championship, you have to build a solid foundation. It’s not just going to come from nowhere.”
Mullen is confident that foundation has been built, and he’s happy that fans are expecting more.
“When you win consistently, the next step for us to compete for a championship consistently,” he said. “And when you start to do that, you’re going to find that you win a championship. That, to me, is the progress that we’ve built in this program and the expectations that I have of our program, and those expectations have really spread to our fan base.”
Mississippi State has won eight or more games two of the past three seasons, but Mullen admits that the Bulldogs have a “chip on their shoulder” over the way last season ended. They lost five of their final six games after starting out 7-0.
Breaking through and winning an SEC title will also require breaking through in the rugged Western Division. Mississippi State is just 5-16 against West foes during Mullen’s tenure.