Arkansas vs. Mississippi State: What Big Win Means for Dan Mullen's Job Status

Marcelo VillaCorrespondent IINovember 17, 2012

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 10:  Head coach Dan Mullen of the Mississippi State Bulldogs talks with a player during the game against the LSU Tigers 
at Tiger Stadium on November 10, 2012 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.The Tigers defeated the Bulldogs 37-17.   (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

After losing three straight games following a 7-0 start, Mississippi State extinguished any talk of Dan Mullen being on the hot seat with a 45-14 win over Arkansas on Saturday.

Mullen's hiring in 2009 held great expectations after the success he enjoyed as an offensive coordinator alongside Urban Meyer at Florida, but after four seasons with Mississippi State, Mullen's track record has been mediocre at best.

Under Mullen, the Bulldogs have gone 30-20 during the regular season with bowl wins in 2010 and 2011. Last season, Mullen's team posted a 7-6 record, stirring up the idea that Mississippi State might be considering a coaching change.

However, Mullen's squad got off to a hot start in 2012, winning their first seven games before entering a brutal three-game skid with SEC powerhouses Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU.

The Bulldogs struggled to match their conference rivals in either of those games, as they were outscored 113-37. The losing streak dropped the Bulldogs to the middle of the pack in the conference standings, placing Mullen in a hot-seat scenario if his team lost a fourth straight game to the Razorbacks this past Saturday.

Fortunately for Mullen, the Bulldogs had no trouble putting away an Arkansas team that has endured losing struggles of its own. Not only that, but Mississippi State got the win in impressive fashion, dropping 45 points on the Razorbacks.

For Mullen, the win had an even greater impact on his coaching career at Mississippi State, as he finally got the monkey off his back with a win over Arkansas after losing the past three meetings. 

With one game left in the season against Ole Miss on Nov. 24, the Bulldogs are on track to finish 2012 with a winning record of 9-3. Historically, the Bulldogs are a perfect 3-0 against the Rebels under Mullen.

Mullen's job status may be safe for now, assuming the Bulldogs can finish with a win against Ole Miss, but his career overall with the Bulldogs hasn't produced the results most people expected out of him when he was initially hired.

For a coach who had a hand in developing offense for successful teams like Utah in 2003-04 and Florida from 2005-08, Mullen has seen little progress in his offense at Mississippi State.

The Bulldogs averaged around 29 points a game this season, and that average is the highest it's ever been under Mullen. Compare that to a 2008 Florida team that put up about 43 points a game.

Granted, Mullen had a more talented group of players with that team, but the fact that Mullen's Bulldogs haven't consistently improved is what puts his job in jeopardy.