Mississippi State's Mullen a leading candidate for Penn State coach

Posted: November 29, 2011

Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, an Urban Meyer disciple who reportedly has been recommended by the new Ohio State coach, has emerged as a leading candidate to become Penn State's next football coach.

Mullen, 39, a Drexel Hill native and Ursinus College graduate, did not deny the speculation, which surfaced on ESPN.com Tuesday, a day after a search committee was formed to find a replacement for Joe Paterno.

Penn State officials would not comment on the report.

"I think it's great for the program," Mullen said when asked about the report at his weekly news conference Tuesday. "I would imagine there's two rumors about you. Either rumors you're going somewhere or rumors you're getting fired. So I'll take the going somewhere rumor than the getting fired rumor."

"I cheered for them [Penn State] and Notre Dame," said Mullen. "I'm happy here, and let's worry about being here. Every single job that comes open last year my name came up with. I have people texting me saying someone is saying this or that about you. I'm pretty busy, so I don't pay much attention to it."

Mullen, whose teams have gone 20-17 in his three years at Mississippi State, and 6-6 this season, was an assistant to Meyer at Bowling Green, Utah, and Florida. A quarterbacks coach, he guided a pair of future NFL quarterbacks, Utah's Alex Smith and Florida's Tim Tebow.

A source close to Penn State's football program said that Meyer had given a glowing endorsement of Mullen. Meyer had drawn the interest of Penn State before he accepted the job at his alma mater, Ohio State, last weekend.

"He really likes him and thinks he's a bright young guy with a real future," the source said.

Mullen signed a four-year contract extension with Mississippi State last January after rumors surfaced that he was being considered for the University of Miami opening. That deal, which includes a $1.4 million buyout, was worth $10.6 million.

Paterno was fired in the wake of a child sexual abuse scandal that has cost several Penn State administrators their jobs. Longtime defensive coordinator Tom Bradley is interim coach and, according to acting athletic director Dave Joyner, remains a candidate.

On Monday, Penn State named a search committee assembled by Joyner to find Paterno's replacement. It's first meeting is scheduled for this week.

One of the committee members is Philadelphia investor Ira Lubert, a Penn State trustee and a partner in the real estate investment firm Lubert-Adler.


Contact staff writer Frank Fitzpatrick at 215-854-5068, ffitzpatrick@phillynews.com, or @philafitz on Twitter. Read his blog, "Giving 'Em Fitz," at www.philly.com/fitz

 

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