SEC Media Days 2012: Dan Mullen's Land of Enchantment

There are many styles of interviews that coaches give at SEC Media Days. There is the stand-up comedy routine, given its workmanlike form by Steve Spurrier but perfected by Robbie Caldwell. There is the dedicated boredom that Mark Richt has turned into something of an art form. And there is the Full Saban -- because Nick Saban has his own way of doing everything -- which includes answers to intelligent questions and scorn for dumb ones.

Dan Mullen might also be on his way to creating a new form of the interview, an as-yet unnamed medium somewhere between grandiosity and fantasy. To say that Dan Mullen does not exactly lack self-confidence is nothing new, but the coach seems to grow to great lengths to make that apparent at SEC Media Days.

Some of this is a variation on well-worn themes, such as the "x game is the most important game in the history of our program" storyline.

That first conference game [against Auburn] really sets the tone, no matter who it is you're playing. You're looking at a two game swing with that team. You're in week one of the season, we win that game, we're two games ahead because we're one game in the rankings and the tiebreaker.

But Mullen takes other tropes and expounds on them. So it's not just that Starkville is a lovely city that any young college man would appreciate.

Starkville could be the best college town in the country. You're looking at a small town, great people, great atmosphere to live in. ... The people that live there, I don't know if there's a better college town in the country than Starkville, Mississippi.

I'm not sure the Starkville Chamber of Commerce would go that far. But it's not just Starkville that will surprise you. Because Dan Mullen has something to tell you about Mississippi State being on the cusp of greatness because they're getting close to beating the likes of Alabama and LSU, two teams that defeated the Western Division Bulldogs by a combined 43-13 margin in 2011.

When you look, the great thing I guess in our program, the SEC West, we're not far off from there, which means we're not very far off from the national title. As you're developing, as you're growing, as you're building the program, the confidence that comes in our guys, I think they see that. They see that, Hey, we're not far off from these teams, and these are teams that are going on, have won the national title, are all ranked in the top five in the country. We can be right there.

None of this should necessarily be taken as criticism. It takes all kinds to make SEC Media Days interesting, and I don't think any human being could sit through 14 Mark Richt clones. But you have to wonder if Dan Mullen actually believes what he's saying, and what it says about the future of his program if he does.

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