SEC 2009 // Wrapping up Mississippi State

If the polls we've been running on Team Speed Kills the last few days are any indication, Mississippi State fans are already optimistic about Dan Mullen and what he can do for the Western Division Bulldogs. And good for them. Fan is a short form of fanatic, and my personal team (South Carolina) has certainly seen its share of saviors come and go.

I do not entirely subscribe to the Mayor's theory that geography is destiny when it comes to recruiting, but he makes a good point: Schools like South Carolina and Mississippi State are at a disadvantage when it comes to recruiting because they can't go 45 minutes down the road and find themselves in a major metropolitan area from which they could essentially recruit an entire 4-star class if they so chose. They have to take advantage of the world's increasing interconnectivity and the benefits of the SEC Network ESPN to recruit regionally or nationally.

Steve Spurrier has put together some decent recruiting classes at South Carolina, to limited effect. It will be Dan Mullen's job to import a solid talent base and coach it into a team that can consistently win eight or nine games a year, go .500 or better in the SEC and put itself in the division title conversation once every few years. That will not be an easy task, as the Rivals rankings for Sylvester Croom's five recruiting classes show.

Croom Recruiting Class

Rank, SEC

2004

11

2005

10

2006

11

2007

10

2008

10

The 2004 class, of course, is neither entirely Croom's fault or responsibility, just as this year's group is not solely Dan Mullen's. Good thing, perhaps, as it once again came in 10th in the conference.

And while the spread that Mullen helped Urban Meyer run at Florida might allow him to turn less-than-stellar recruiting classes into quality football teams, he also faces the real prospect that the best spread athletes will go to Florida and that more teams will continue to go with the spread, limiting its effectiveness and the availability of recruits that are perfect for the spread but don't fit other systems.

It would be an accomplishment for Mullen to take Mississippi state to a bowl this year or to sniff .500 in the SEC. But if he can manage to draw recruiting classes that start to rank 5th, 6th or 7th in the conference, he might be able to make some noise.

Mississippi State will probably never be Alabama or LSU. But it can make life very, very interesting for both of them.

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