HOOVER -- How does a team follow up a "historic season"?
That’s how Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen described the Bulldogs 2014 campaign. That's also the question Mullen and Mississippi State are about to have to answer this coming fall.
Last season, the Bulldogs opened the year 9-0 before finishing 10-3 overall. It’s only the second time the Bulldogs have won 10 games in the last 70 years.
But Mullen doesn’t want these types of seasons to be an outlier anymore.
“Hopefully we’re getting to that point now where we can compete year in and year out,” Mullen said Tuesday during SEC Media Days. “I think one of the biggest challenges is the league itself. When you look at how tough that league is, I think you’re going to be hard pressed for anybody to compete every single year for a championship.”
Mullen pointed to Alabama and Nick Saban, who gave the Bulldogs their first loss last season, as the one program that has consistently been able to sustain success. Still, Mullen recognizes that every team will have it’s ups and downs.
“One of the things you have to try to do for us is avoid a big swoop down,” Mullen said. “I don’t know that you’re going to stay up there at 12, 13 wins every year. I’d love to. What you have to do is manage the season, manage the program as a whole, to maintain where, if you can win eight or nine game every single year, you have the chance to have those special years to get up to 12, 13, 14 wins.”
Mississippi State returns some top talent including fifth-year quarterback and Heisman candidate Dak Prescott. But the Bulldogs also lost a good bit of production off a senior-laden team from a year ago so many are picking them to finish in the middle to bottom of the league.
“This is my seventh year coming here, and I think all seven years they’ve pretty much picked us to finish last in the West,” Mullen said. “It’s kind of like a tradition, I guess. We don’t really worry much about that. I’m much more concerned with how we finish.”
Contact Anniston Star Sports Writer Marq Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @Marq_Burnett.