As a head football coach in the Southeastern Conference, a call from the Commissioner either means something very good has happened, or something very bad has happened.
For Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen this week, the call was for good news.
“There is an opening on the NCAA Football Oversight Committee for a current head coach,” Mullen recalled SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey telling him over the phone. “We’re going to nominate someone from the conference, and we’d like it to be you, if you’re interested.”
“It would be a great honor,” Mullen replied.
Shortly after, the committee accepted the nomination, making Mullen the only current head coach in the group. For Mullen, entering his eighth year in Starkville, it’s a natural fit. Throughout his coaching career, and particularly during his tenure with the Bulldogs, he has been vocal about rules, legislation and proposals relating to college football, its coaches and its student-athletes.
As the NCAA explains it, part of the job of the committee is to “enhance the development of the sport and make recommendations related to regular season and postseason football. The committee will prioritize the enhancement of the student-athlete educational experience (academically and athletically) and in doing so, promote student-athletes’ personal growth and leadership development.”
“It’s a great responsibility,” Mullen said. “You’re on a committee that’s helping guide the future of college football. I think one of the most important things, being on a committee like that, is looking at the big picture of what’s best for college football overall. As a coach, you’re competitive in everything you do, and you have to set your program aside; not look at things as what might be best for Mississippi State, but what might be best for the game of college football. I think that is such a tremendous responsibility for people involved in those types of committees.”
Additionally, Mullen recognizes the importance of his position as the only active head coach on the committee. As the voice for his peers, he hopes to communicate the reality of issues important to coaches, their programs and their student-athletes.
“We’re the ones that are dealing with everything every day,” Mullen said of his fellow coaches. “We have to make sure we’re representing the reality. I think there’s always perception and reality out there in the world, and we’re living that reality every day. We have to make sure the other people on the committee understand where we’re coming from and some of the things happening behind the scenes that coaches are having to deal with.”