head-coaching post at Mississippi State in December.
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Dan Mullen fished two nearly identical BlackBerrys from his pockets Monday afternoon. "That's the Mississippi State Batphone," the newly minted Bulldogs coach/outgoing Florida offensive coordinator said, raising the device in his left hand.
During meetings or practices as the Gators prepare to face Oklahoma in Thursday's BCS title game, the Mississippi State phone remains holstered. But when practice wraps, the phone with the Starkville area code gets a workout.
"We try to get all the meetings done, and then at night I have my time," Mullen said. "I might not get to enjoy all the bowl festivities that all the other coaches and families and players do. But that allows me to have time to do the necessary work I need done on the other end."
Mullen has heard plenty this week about Mark Richt, who came to Dolphins Stadium eight years ago as Georgia's incoming head coach and Florida State's outgoing offensive coordinator and guided one of the worst offensive performances of his career in a 13-2 loss to Oklahoma in the BCS title game. Mullen chooses instead to think about Steve Sarkisian, the USC offensive coordinator who took the Washington job last month. With Sarkisian calling the plays, the Trojans played one of their best offensive games of the season last week in a 38-24 Rose Bowl win against Penn State.
Mullen tried to call Sarkisian to pick his brain, but with four jobs between them, the men couldn't book a spare moment at the same time. "I played phone tag with Steve," Mullen said. "I didn't get a chance to talk to him."
Mullen did reach Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, the former LSU defensive coordinator who double-dipped last year's BCS title game. "My advice was just do the best job you can in the job you're doing," Pelini said. "There's plenty of time. He's a sharp guy, and he has great coaches around him. Just do your job. ... There are enough hours in the day."
Mullen has found one way to forge a symbiotic relationship between his two masters. Thanks to the recruiting calendar, his Mississippi State assistants are on the road this week, and Mullen has instructed them to fan out among the homes of the Bulldogs' top targets on Thursday. "There will be seven different assistants at Mississippi State spending time with certain recruits that night, sitting on the couch, watching the game," Mullen said. "They'll be saying, 'Hey, that's going to be our head coach right there.' That's kind of been a big deal for me."
So Mullen has hefty incentive to hang 50 on the Sooners. If the Gators post a single-digit score, those Mississippi State recruits might turn to the assistant on their couch and tell him to leave so the Ole Miss coaches can enter the house. Mullen knows this, so he has given all of himself to both his jobs -- and both phones -- this week.
"I know which one's which," Mullen said. "They've got different rings."