It's not new or even all that observant to notice that head coaches are not always asked about their teams at SEC Media Days. There are only so many questions that reporters off a team's beat care about, and most of the local guys have enough time to get answers during other press conferences. For some reporters, the best use of SEC Media Days is the opportunity to work on features.
Even so, Dan Mullen got several questions about things that were only vaguely or not at all connected to Mississippi State football. He even got asked about futbol at one point.
I was told you're a big fan of the World Cup. Do you think you're the only SEC coach watching? What are your thoughts on Liverpool?
Mullen: Liverpool traded Suarez to Barcelona. A lot of offensive power gone from Liverpool.
I enjoy watching the World Cup. My mom is a British citizen. She grew up in North Wales. Grew up watching that stuff, watching the soccer.
Believe it or not, as a football coach, some of our downtime is in the spring. I'm a big sports fan. My wife sometimes questions what I'm doing, but I don't mind waking up early Sunday morning and watching the premiership if you have a little bit of the break. Get a workout in, watch that 6 a.m. kick.
But the World Cup is so exciting. You see the passion the fans have, the whole country is on top of it. Unbelievable.
I do think SEC football could be compared to European soccer. The passion our fans have is equal. I'm sure I'll have a lot of European nations very upset, teams throughout the world upset. That is one of the things that makes this league so much fun, is the passion that our fan bases have for football is similar to watching the passion these European soccer teams and followings have, which is a pretty neat deal.
My guess as to the part of the question Dan Mullen didn't answer: Yes, he is the only SEC coach paying any attention to soccer ever. Think about it: Is Bret Bielema waking up early to watch the premiership? Does Bret Bielema even know what the premiership is?
While that was the most non-State question for Mullen, it wasn't the only one. What did he think of an early signing period? (It's coming.) How will the playoff affect the SEC? What about the new summer workout rules -- though that question, in fairness, was tied to how Mississippi State is handling them. Mullen was even asked about how to handle a first-year starting quarterback, despite the fact that he does not have a first-year starting quarterback.
One early question, though, showed why the lack of attention might not be a bad thing. Mullen was asked about the rising expectations for Mississippi State, which is now a trendy pick as a dark horse in the SEC West.
I think for us when you look at expectations on the season, I think how last season ended, with a lot of young guys coming back on our team, our team immediately put a lot of expectations on themselves. Right from day one of the workouts, the winter conditioning, of what they wanted to accomplish this year, what they felt they could accomplish.
So we've talked to them about it, embrace all those expectations. Our expectations are to find a way to get to Atlanta. That's what we can control and compete for that SEC championship this year.
When you embrace that expectation early on as a program, when you embrace that for this year's team, all those guys, that's what they're working for from day one. I don't think they shy away from it. I think they embrace everything that's going on.
I'm not a big fan of the idea of "sneaking up on people," but when you're talking about a team that isn't used to going to Atlanta -- the Bulldogs have been to the SEC Championship Game once, and they went with an 8-5 record -- ramping up the preseason buzz and shining a bright light on them is maybe the worst thing you can do. Let them quietly go about their business. Then, in 2015, the reporters might not have much of a choice but to talk about Mississippi State's football team.