Live coverage from Birmingham, where SB Nation is taking in the spectacle of SEC Media Days.
Dan Mullen is poised in a relaxed runner's stance as he's introduced to the assembled media, like a talk show host caught accidentally on live air pumping himself up in the wings. He bounds up the stairs like it's not after 5:00 already, like this whole pony show isn't already running behind, and like he's genuinely happy to be under hot lights in an itchy suit talking football with 800 strangers. This last part is probably true. Such is the charm of Mississippi State's bullish, manic skipper. Highlights from the last interview session of Day 1:
• Mississippi State's goal for 2011 is simple: "To relentlessly pursue an SEC Championship." It is hard to imagine Dan Mullen doing anything less than relentlessly. He takes the hell out of that eye exam for his university physical every year. You can just tell.
• On Mike Slive's proposition this morning to increase academic standards: "One of our goals is to educate young people. That's why we coach in college." He's all for raising the bar, "I just want to make sure there's a plan."
• On his notoriously prolific offenses, and adapting those to his current talent level: State's offense will be built around the personnel they have, not the other way around. They'll use 60-70% of his plays in a given year. "I don't need Chris Relf to be an Alex Smith, or a Tim Tebow. I need Chris Relf to be Chris Relf, and to do it the best he can, and as a coach I need to put him in the position to do these things."
• On Steve Spurrier's pokes at Mississippi State's booster coffers: "Well, I've never played Augusta National, so that can't be right."
• On State's recent campaign of open aggression as the state's flagship football school, Mullen lands just this shy of openly gleeful. One reporter tells him he spotted a billboard with Mullen's face on the way in. Mullen visibly brightens: "Yeah, did you enjoy your time there?" He demurs for a second, pointing out that Southern Miss is on the scheduling horizon, but not for long: "We are the State University of Mississippi. We are the people's university. [...] If you come to Starkville on Saturday, it's an event. It's the place to be in Mississippi."