Here's a bit of Mississippi St. Bulldogs Dan Mullen's press conference Wednesday at SEC Media Days that is representative of his entire presentation:
I think to answer your question, directly, about being excited, I'm real excited to be here. One that makes this league great is the excitement, the passion, is the importance. ... It makes it awful exciting when you get off that bus, you see that energy, that excitement.
Mullen was excited about a list of things, including
--Being at SEC Media Days
--Being the head football coach at Mississippi State
--"To get this season going"
--To see his staff after a break
--"To be involved in such a historic game" -- against Jackson State
--"To get back on the practice field"
--Meeting his fellow SEC head coaches
In fact, "excited" or "excitement" appears 13 times in his opening statement alone, and several other times throughout the transcript of his interview. And the coach is not alone. Offensive tackle Derek Sherrod: "There is a lot of excitement around Mississippi." We must presume he meant around the state, about Mississippi State.
"Coach Mullen is an up-tempo guy," added linebacker K.J. Wright. "He has a huge personality." Then, things got a bit optimistic. "He has won a national championship. He has something we don't have. Coach is a winner. We are going to learn from him, and duplicate what he did at Florida."
Let's hope Wright isn't getting a little bit too ... well, excited. After all, it's easier to get excited than to win, as Sherrod inadvertently displayed when he tried to answer a question about how to transfer offseason excitement into wins. He finally settled on, "I think that the high energy is a very valuable thing to a team. We have plenty of that."
That comes in lieu of demonstrated proficiency in passing offense, rushing offense, total offense, rushing defense and total defense. The Bulldogs landed in the bottom half of the SEC in all those measures in 2008. And changing the team will take as much time and, yes, as much energy as Mullen can muster.
He seems like the right man for the job. Admittedly, this was just a press conference. But to the eyes of someone who has never seen him talk at any length before, the excitable Mullen seemed to your humble correspondent like someone who was also bright, confident and competent.
It's good to be excited; it's even better to have something to be exicted about. Mississippi State fans might have to wait a while before they have the latter. Then again, they might just have the right man to give them some of both.