Kudos to Tom Murphy of The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for asking the toughie that we’ve all been waiting for. Murphy asked Dan Mullen about “the in-state dynamic” created by Ole Miss’ current momentum.
Mullen smiled and responded:
“I think it’s sparking the rivalry even more. I think it’s gonna make Thanksgiving night an even bigger game.
When I got hired the other school in our state they had gone to the Cotton Bowl and won the Cotton Bowl. And we came up from a team that wasn’t doing very well and won a couple in a row (against Ole Miss) and now we’ve been going to the New Year’s Day bowl games the last couple of years. And now they come up and they’re starting to create some stir.
Certainly when you go around the state of Mississippi it will make Thanksgiving night this fall a pretty important day throughout the whole state. Not just an important day in the state of Mississippi, I think it’s gonna draw a lot more attention to it nationally. How important that rivalry is and how big that rivalry is to everybody in our state.”
Mullen’s answer was as good as Murphy’s question. No coach likes having to say good things about their rival and Mullen doesn’t even like saying his rival school’s name. But he still credited Ole Miss for creating “some stir” and then he wisely took the opportunity to push the Egg Bowl rivalry which, in turn, pushes his own program.
A younger Mullen might not have handled that question quite so well. But there were no barbs or suckerpunches. Just a good answer from a guy with a smile on his face.
Credit to Murphy for the question. Credit to Mullen for his answer.
Watch video of Dan Mullen at SEC Media Days.