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Posts Tagged ‘Dan Mullen’

Pick 10, F.B.S. Notebook: Week 2 (Sept. 8)

Let’s not beat around the bush: this isn’t a great week. I mean, it’s great – better than what we’re used to, better than any non-football weekend – but it’s not great, all things considered. There’s no Michigan and Alabama to end the night; there’s no prime-time game on ABC at all, in fact. Instead, we’ll close our night with Nebraska and U.C.L.A., Georgia and Missouri and, later on, Arizona and Oklahoma State. Very, very intriguing games. But with perhaps the exception of Georgia, depending on how highly you think of the Bulldogs, these games don’t carry any title implications. That doesn’t make the games any less interesting – or change the fact that every game, especially while teams find their footing, carries some level of importance. Let’s run down the entire weekend’s action.

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    No. 31: Mississippi State

    What last fall did was bring Mississippi State back down to Earth. Run roughshod over the SEC? Leap tall buildings, Nick Saban and L.S.U. in a single bound? Put together an offense that will leave this defense-based conference gasping for breath? It’s not that easy, with last season as our evidence — but don’t get off the bandwagon. Instead, adjust your thinking to recognize the battles that await any team hoping to reach bowl eligibility in the SEC, let alone one planning to go from the outhouse to the penthouse in a three-year span. The road to a major bowl will always go through an Auburn, Arkansas, L.S.U. or Alabama; that’s life in the SEC West, where you’re either quick or you’re dead, and no one wants to be Mississippi. So where does that leave the Bulldogs heading into fall camp? Here’s where it should: firm in the knowledge that progression comes in all shapes and sizes; that sometimes, improvement is not necessarily manifested in the win column; and that last year’s team was not necessarily worse than the nine-win team that preceded it. All systems are still go. The bandwagon remains full. But it will never, ever be easy to navigate the rocky shores of the SEC West.

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      Boise Gives Petersen a Lifetime Contract

      Chris Petersen’s new contract at Boise State looks a lot like his old contract at Boise State, albeit with a slight boost to his annual salary. In 2010, Petersen inked a deal with the university that raised his annual salary from $850,000 — his payout beginning in 2007, after he led the Broncos to a Fiesta Bowl win — to $1.6 million. The new deal, which kicks in beginning with this coming season, will pay Petersen roughly $11.75 million over five years; that’s an average of $2.35 million per season, though the contract is back-loaded to pay more in 2015 and 2016 than in 2012 and 2013. The first-glance takeaway from this new contract: Petersen is being paid significantly less money than the F.B.S. head coaches who inhabit the same coaching stratosphere.

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        The Year in Review: Mississippi St. (7-6, 2-6)

        The expectations were a little high. But could one — and I’m not naming names — be blamed for hopping on board the Mississippi State bandwagon, especially with Dan Mullen holding the reins? This was a team that went 9-4 in 2010, its highest win total since 1999, and seemed poised for only bigger and better things in 2011 and beyond. The offense returned nearly intact, minus the loss of all-SEC tackle Derek Sherrod. The defense returned another seven starters off a group that finished third in the conference in scoring the year before. What’s not to like? Let’s think…

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          Mississippi State Wins, Sloppiness and All

          There’s making it hard on yourself, then there’s placing yourself directly between a rock and a hard place. Mississippi State should know better: prior to tonight, the Bulldogs had lost seven straight games when committing four or more turnovers, as you’d expect. The Bulldogs were 2-13 when committing at least three turnovers since 2007, as you’d also expect. But this is a team that, under Dan Mullen’s direction, has done an outstanding job protecting the football. So it was confusing — frustrating and confounding, if you were in Starkville — to see Mississippi State handle the ball so carelessly in its Music City Bowl date with Wake Forest.

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            Meyer Tackles His New Staff at Ohio St.

            Urban Meyer’s first order of business as Ohio State’s coach will be taking advantage of the current N.C.A.A. contact period, which allows Meyer, the second the ink dries, to reach out to any recruit interested in signing with the Buckeyes in February. Here’s guessing there’ll be a long list of interested parties. At the same time, Meyer will attack a far more vital task: compiling his debut staff. This undertaking reminds me of Meyer’s first staff at Florida, which Meyer called yesterday “the best staff in college football history.”

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              Good, Bad for Big East; B.C.S. Themes

              This is a good thing for the Big East: the conference needs as many contenders as possible — not national contenders, just conference contenders — for its automatic B.C.S. bid, and Pittsburgh’s win over South Florida casts the Panthers right into the upper half of the league. Pittsburgh didn’t just look good; Pittsburgh looked great, illustrating a grasp of Todd Graham’s spread offense that seemed missing for much of the Panthers’ 2-2 start. If the Big East ever needed a win, this was it — ironically, the win came via a program soon, or somewhat soon, heading for greener B.C.S. pastures. Touching on Pittsburgh, South Florida and other B.C.S. conference themes:

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                Ten New Commandments for 2011

                There are 10 real commandments — you know, the Ten Commandments — and whether you believe or not they still serve as a pretty good set of rules to live by on daily basis. Don’t murder. We can all agree on that. Don’t steal. Don’t covet another person’s significant other – and I ask that the members of the armed forces in San Diego pay attention to this one, seeing that several of you tried to do that with my significant other while we were on vacation. Don’t lie. Don’t cheat. We can get behind these. College football teams and programs should consider the more traditional commandments in addition to a few others tailor-made for 2011 – a few rules to live by, if you would, beginning with Texas A&M’s message to Baylor.

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                  The Countdown

                  A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.