Mullen speaks to crowd at Eola Hotel

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 7, 2009

NATCHEZ — Mississippi State head football coach Dan Mullen had a challenge for Mississippi State fans: Stop wishing for great success and do something about it.

Mullen spoke to Bulldog fans at the Eola Hotel in downtown Natchez as part of the university’s 2009 Road Dawgs Tour.

Natchez was the ninth of 16 stops the tour is making in order to drum up support for MSU’s 2009 football season.

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Mullen was hired in December to replace Sylvester Croom, and he has spent time getting out and meeting fans across the state, encouraging them to support the university.

And that was the dominant theme of his speech on Wednesday.

“It’s time to stop wishing and start wanting,” Mullen told the crowd. “Everyone wishes to go to Atlanta, but do something about it. Support the university, attend the games, and give a positive image of Mississippi State.”

Mullen said the more than 31,000 fans that attended MSU’s spring football game was part of the support he wants to see Mississippi State fans give the program.

“We had our best practice of the spring in that game,” Mullen said. “And do you know why? It was because the players were tired of hearing their coaches screaming at them and loved hearing the screaming of 31,000 fans. If they play with that intensity in a spring scrimmage in front of 31,000 fans, can you imagine the effort when they play against LSU or Alabama in front of 55,000 fans?”

Mullen said the enthusiasm and crowd support at the spring game was also important because recruits were visiting that weekend.

“Those recruits saw the tents set up and 31,000 people at the scrimmage,” Mullen said. “They thought, ‘Maybe I don’t have to go to LSU or Florida to play. I can play big-time football at Mississippi State.’

“What you did (by coming to the game) was try to make us a big-time football program. Mississippi State can be great in football. That game was their first impression of Mississippi State, and first impressions are lasting.”

The Road Dawgs Tour has taken Mullen from Memphis to Dallas to Jackson and Natchez, but Mullen said before the event that he is pleased to be getting out and meeting the MSU fans.

“It’s great to get out and meet people in the state and region,” Mullen said. “It’s a lot of fun seeing Mississippi State supporters around the country.”

Mullen acknowledged that recruiting is the lifeblood of the program and said it’s been a lot of work meeting all the high school coaches around the state.

“We’ve got to build relationships with high school coaches in the state,” Mullen said. “If we can get all the top players in the state, that has the making of a championship team.”

Mullen inherits a team that went 4-8 last season and doesn’t have a lot of expectations for 2009, but he did promise a team that would work hard.

“We’re going to play with great effort and passion,” Mullen said. “If we can do that, the rest will take care of itself.”