STARKVILLE, Miss. — Dan Mullen wants everyone to know the spread offense can be different things to different people. But the new Mississippi State football coach offers one basic premise to the approach.
"We're going to make you defend sideline to sideline," Mullen said Thursday, when he was introduced to MSU supporters to replace Sylvester Croom. "We're going to take all these great athletes in the state of Mississippi, and try to make you defend them one-on-one in the open field."
Mullen, 36, has followed Florida coach Urban Meyer from Bowling Green to Utah and Gainesville, where the Gators are preparing for the BCS title game against Oklahoma on Jan. 8. Mullen has spent four seasons as Florida's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
MSU athletic director Greg Byrne said Mullen's four-year deal will be worth about $1.2-million annually. "We're going to catch a coach on the way up, because that's where we're going."
Mullen said he isn't sure if he will be coaching with Florida in the BCS title game. "It's still a fluid situation right now," he said. "… Once we get stabilized here, we're going to worry about going back for the national championship game."
USF: Home perk
TAMPA — USF coach Jim Leavitt, whose team began practice for the St. Petersburg Bowl against Memphis, said playing so close to USF will help with recruiting.
"Who's going to go to Birmingham (Ala.) with us?" he said. "Who's going to go to El Paso (Texas)? Charlotte (N.C.)? We can bring a lot of recruits to practice because we're staying here."
USF has sold all but 1,500 tickets of its allotment of about 10,000. What remains are a mix of regular tickets, available to the public for $30 each, and $10 student tickets.
Alcorn State: Coach Ernest T. Jones has been fired days after filing a lawsuit seeking the reinstatement of seven assistant coaches who did not have their contracts renewed by athletic director Darren Hamilton, said Jones' attorney Wayne Ferrell. Hamilton told the Associated Press he had no comment.
Auburn: When coach Tommy Tuberville resigned, athletic director Jay Jacobs agreed to pay the $5.08-million buyout even though the school was under no obligation to pay if coach quit. Also, the school reportedly interviewed Texas Christian's Gary Patterson for Tuberville's spot.
Buffalo: Turner Gill confirmed he interviewed for coaching vacancies at Auburn and Syracuse, raising the possibility he may leave Buffalo after turning around the team in three years.
Syracuse: New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator Doug Marrone has accepted the head coach position and will be on campus for a news conference today, ESPN.com reported. Marrone, who was a three-year letterman in the 1980s at the school, replaces the fired Greg Robinson. Earlier, East Carolina coach Skip Holtz withdrew from consideration for the opening.
UCF: The athletic department hired an independent attorney well versed in NCAA matters to investigate "procedures and policies" surrounding its football program. The hiring of Michael Glazier, who once worked for the NCAA, comes in the wake of an internal investigation after the recent collapse and hospitalization of freshman Brandon Davis during a conditioning workout Dec. 3. He has been released from a hospital with a clean bill of health. Nine months ago, receiver Ereck Plancher died during a workout. Plancher's family has informed UCF that it intends to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the university.
Women's golf: Tampa natives Shena Yang (Wharton High) and Jennifer Neville (Manatee) signed letters of intent to play at USF in 2009.
Times staff writer Greg Auman and correspondent Joe Rienzi contributed to this report. For news on instate colleges, go to tampabay.com/sports and click More Sports.