College football fan bases are a little crazy. From presidential beer bongs to attacking fast food chains on social media, there’s nothing fans won’t do to protect their school. If you think coaches leaving a program that they helped rebuild makes it ok for them to search for another opportunity? Guess again.
Dan Mullen racked up a 69-46 record in nine seasons leading the Mississippi State Bulldogs‘ program, which included only the third 10-win season in program history back in 2014. Anytime a long-term head coach chooses to leave for another SEC school and not coach the final bowl game of his nine-year career, you can bank on their being some bad blood the next time he comes back.
In February 2017, Mullen signed a four-year extension to be with the Bulldogs program until 2021. Later that same year, the head coach flipped his own commitment and chose to become the 27th head coach of the Florida Gators program, signing a six-year contract in Gainesville.
This weekend, Mullen’s Gators (3-1) will travel back to Davis Wade Stadium to take on the Joe Moorhead-led Bulldogs (3-1), who Mullen left just a season ago.
Some fans are already churning out anti-Dan Mullen apparel, including photoshopped buttons showing current Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald flipping the bird right in Mullen’s face.
The senior quarterback is not to happy about them, either.
Mullen was the one who recruited Fitzgerald to the Bulldogs’ program back in 2015, and the quarterback spent two seasons as the starter in Dan Mullen’s offense, on his way to becoming one of the most prolific signal callers in SEC history.
In three seasons, Fitzgerald racked up 4,440 passing yards, 2,486 rushing yards and 72 total touchdowns. Dan Mullen helped make the senior the player he is today, and there’s no way he’d feel this level of animosity towards him, regardless of how the relationship between coach and program ended.
The intensity in Starkville on Saturday night is going to be high. Both teams have a lot on the line, both in terms of regular season standings, SEC East versus SEC West bragging rights, and, maybe more importantly, pride.
Hopefully, these buttons don’t make their way too far around campus, but the spirit of competition is clearly not lost on the fans who feel slighted by coach Dan Mullen’s abrupt exit.