College football coaches aren’t usually remembered for specific quotes. Someone (like Steve Spurrier) might be memorable for habitually firing off zingers, while other coaches might be remembered for being over-the-top boring in public appearances. They’re mainly remembered for winning and losing. Dan Mullen’s foremost legacy at Mississippi State is probably going to be that he made the Bulldogs a lot better over nine years.
But one of the most memorable things Mullen ever said is especially memorable this week, as his Florida team travels to Starkville to face the program Mullen just left.
After the 2014 season, Mullen lost MSU defensive coordinator Geoff Collins to Florida. He called it “a lateral move.”
Mississippi State folks loved that quote. Why wouldn’t they?
It wasn’t really true. All things being equal, the majority of college football coaches would rather work at Florida than Mississippi State. The Bulldogs had just won 10 games to the Gators’ six, but UF was still a legacy program with three national titles in the previous two decades. Mississippi State was still a zero-time national champion that wasn’t that used to being competitive in the SEC West. But Mullen was putting on for his school.
After the 2017 season, Mullen demonstrated that he didn’t really think Starkville-to-Gainesville was a lateral move, by making it.
Someone asked Mullen about this issue at SEC Media Days.
“Yeah, you know, I’m pretty passionate about everywhere I’m at, you know,” he said.
There are often hurt feelings when a coach takes another job, but I’ve never seen a strong counter-strike than what this custard shop has done to Mullen.
Dan Mullen used to order the same off-menu creation each time he visited the Starkville frozen custard drive-thru called Bop’s: vanilla concrete, topped with chocolate syrup, caramel, chocolate chips and M&Ms.— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) September 26, 2018
Bop’s named it The Mullen.
It’s now called The Lateral Move. pic.twitter.com/2hulLDSLWL
It appears the custard shop wasted no time after Mullen took the UF job in late November 2017.
You can go after a person’s integrity. You can go after their professional reputation. You can question their loyalty and their sincerity. You can question whether they’re even a good person. But when you go after someone’s personalized custard flavor, you’ve declared war.