Dan Mullen is, above all things, a freakishly and enthrallingly enthusiastic talker. A moderately-sized throng of reporters has decamped from the main press room with the departure of Nick Saban, but we secretly assume it's because they're not prepared to type fast enough to keep up with the Missy State skipper's wordslingin'. He possesses the unique gift of making even boilerplate coachspeak sound compelling, but without rambling -- 45 seconds of opening patter (leading with a cowbell joke, natch), and Mullen's into question time:
• Right off the bat, Mullen appears markedly less unhinged than last year, which drops his entertainment value somewhat, but does not lessen our affections.
• He wants to win the SEC West. Nay, expects to win the West. Asked how long it will take to build the Bulldogs into a division contender, he replies, "This December," apparently without pausing to ponder. This is not an unusual preseason attitude, but look in those unblinking orbs of his: Dan Mullen truly believes this is possible. That's not a slight.
• "I'm excited to go to work every single day." Imagine a full-grown man intoning this in the vein of Jessie Spano's caffeine-high "excited," and you're about where you should be on your path to Mullenlightenment.
• Thinks Missy State could build a national championship team out of players plucked from within a five-hour radius of Starkville. "The problem is those other schools." Yes, "that school up north" makes an appearance in his rhetoric.
• Some yabob asks why he refers to Ole Miss as such. Dan Mullen, to his credit, does not roll his eyes, and fires back, "They're north of us."
• Fearless Leader's got the mic, and asks how the Bulldogs' staff counters misgivings about the spread during the recruiting process, something Saban touched on in his talk, and gets the quote of the hour: "Well, I've had a lot more first-round quarterbacks drafted than he's ever had in his career." Spencer, sotto voce: "I think I love Dan Mullen."
Stay with us, sports fans: Joker Phillips is next.