Over the coming weeks and months, the Maryland football program will search for a new head coach to replace the departed Randy Edsall. We know who the candidates are, but who should Maryland pick? We'll state every coach's case, whether he wants the job or not, in 500 words or so.
Dan Mullen, Mississippi State head coach
Possibility scale: 6/10
If you've poked around Twitter over the last few days, you might have picked up on some chatter about Maryland and Mullen, the highly regarded Mississippi State head coach. Jeff Ermann of Inside Maryland Sports has, in the last few days, connected the Terrapins and Mullen ($). The notion has been picked up elsewhere, though nowhere more notable than by Ermann. So, let's consider the prospect of Dan Mullen, Maryland Head Football Coach.
Since taking over for the 2009 season, Mullen has turned perennial SEC doormat Mississippi State into an upper-echelon contender in that extraordinarily tough league. He has turned in six consecutive winning seasons, peaking with a brief slotting as the No. 1 team in the country in 2014. This year, the Bulldogs have mostly taken up residence around the Nos. 20-25 spots in national polls. Mullen is 54-34 in Starkville, his first college head-coaching job. In the six years prior to his joining up, the Bulldogs went a combined 23-38. He's been a miracle-worker.
Mullen has had a bunch of lower-tier coaching positions, too. The most immediate work-ups to his job at Mississippi State were a stint as a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at Florida and quarterbacks coach at Utah. Mullen worked under current Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer at both of those schools.
Mullen knows quarterbacks. He was Alex Smith's position coach when Smith and Meyer were winning BCS games at Utah, and he tutored Chris Leak and Tim Tebow at Florida. More recently, he's shepherded MSU quarterback Dak Prescott along a journey to becoming one of the best players in all of college football, after Prescott was a fairly run-of-the-mill three-star recruit.
Did I mention Mullen's 2006 Florida offense posted 29.7 points and 396.1 yards per game and won the national championship? That happened, and then Mullen took the Bulldogs' job and made that program into something it's never been: consistently good.
Mississippi State's is not an easy job. The Bulldogs are very much second fiddle to Ole Miss in their own state, and they need to both recruit and play against schools like Alabama, LSU and Georgia every single year. That Mullen has carved out such an effective run for himself in Starkville speaks to an ability to win in any situation. That should mean a lot for a program that shares the Big Ten East with Meyer, Jim Harbaugh and Mark Dantonio.
Mullen isn't quite the prodigious recruiter some fans might want. He's put together what's currently a sub-Maryland class for 2016 at Mississippi State, and he doesn't have clear local connections, although we can't say for sure he doesn't have relationships we don't know about.
Then, there's the financial matter. Mullen has done such a nice job that Mississippi State gave him a long contract extension and raised his salary to $4.3 million per season earlier this year. He wouldn't leave town without another raise, and it's not clear that Maryland is positioned to give it to him. But, hey, maybe Kevin Plank is up for it.
In one sentence
Mullen has had great success in a challenging environment, and he'd be a terrific hire if Maryland could afford him.