Urban Meyer among coaches offering support to Dan Mullen
Florida coach Urban Meyer is among the many coaches who have reached out to Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen to offer support and condolences as he deals with the death of Mississippi State football player Nick Bell.
Mullen said he's heard from numerous coaches, including former Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill - who lost two players during his tenure.
The 20-year-old redshirt sophomore died Tuesday after he underwent emergency surgery. He was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a form of skin cancer after a tumor was removed from his brain on Oct. 1. Bell was scheduled to begin chemotherapy this week, but became ill on Sunday, had surgery Monday morning and never awoke from a coma.
Meyer knows what Mullen is going through. Three years ago, walk-on quarterback Michael Guilford died in a motorcycle accident in Gainesville. He was 19 years old.
"I actually flew Cris Carter in to talk to our team because I didn't know what to do,'' Meyer said Wednesday. "Cris Carter when he was a player with the Minnesota Vikings went through that. He's a good friend of mine. I had him come in and speak to our team. I texted Dan (Mullen) yesterday, not knowing, this was earlier in the day, and he hit me
back and I only saw it after practice. That's obviously terrible for the family, terrible. Unbelievable. But Dan's a very smart guy and a very high-character person. So you have faith and obviously you can't control it.''
Mullen said Wednesday that he and a busload of players traveled to Birmingham Monday to visit Bell following his surgery, and the players realized at that time that Bell "was in a fight for his life.'' Still, he said, the players were stunned by Bell's death.
"It puts a lot of things in perspective for our players,'' Mullen said. "We try to build them up to be so big, fast, strong, tough that they can do anything. They are this warrior we create or whatever it is. And then for them to see how precious life is and how fast things can change, that's something that our players are dealing with, how precious every day of their life is right now. They have to make sure they appreciate it and take advantage of all the great gifts God gives them and every day that God gives them on the Earth.''
South Carolina coach on Wednesday Steve Spurrier recalled the tragic death of Eraste Autin, the Florida freshman fullback who died of heat stroke on July 25, 2001 during voluntary summer conditioning workouts while Spurrier was the coach at Florida.
"You try to handle it the best way you can and I'm sure coach Mullen and his staff will,'' Spurrier said.
Meyer contacted Mullen by text after he heard of Bell's death.
'Without getting overly deep, and it might be inappropriate, is there's only one answer, and that's our source,'' Meyer said about what he told Mullen. "That was my message to him. Like I said, Dan's a smart guy, and has a great heart, and the focus is on that family and his players.''
Bell will be buried on Saturday in Birmingham.