MSU’s Mullen, Auburn’s Chizik get late start

By David Moorman  |   Wednesday, March 25, 2009  |  Comments( 1 )

College Football
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While Mississippi State and Auburn were among the last Southeastern Conference teams to start spring practice in college football, they were first when it came to head coaches.

Before Mississippi State and Auburn were to begin their new eras with Dan Mullen and Gene Chizik, respectively, Tennessee had done the same with Lane Kiffin.

Although Mullen has put his own imprint on the program, he also kept vestiges of the past in retaining defensive line coach David Turner and cornerbacks coach Melvin Smith. Mullen hired seven new assistants, including defensive coordinator Carl Torbush, who once held the same position at Alabama.

Kiffin’s staff features former Ole Miss head coach Ed Orgeron, while Chizik returns to the university where he once worked as an assistant coach.

Helping Mullen make the transition will be 41 letterwinners from last season, including 12 starters.

<b>VANDY LOOKS DANDY:<b> Wasting no time, Vanderbilt conducted two scrimmages inside its stadium before Mississippi State even held its first practice.

The Commodores’ second scrimmage was a spirited 80-play workout that saw cornerback Casey Hayward intercept a Larry Smith pass and return it 100 yards for a touchdown. Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson used three quarterbacks with Mackenzi Adams and Jared Funk having guided scoring drives.

Funk threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Udom Umoh. Adams directed the final drive of the scrimmage, which resulted in Ryan van Rensburg’s 3-yard touchdown run.

Vanderbilt will conduct its annual Black & Gold Scrimmage on March 28.

<b>CHANGE IN PLANS:<b> In adjusting its 2009 schedule to accommodate ESPN’s request to play a Thursday night game at South Carolina, Ole Miss wound up with two Football Championship Subdivision teams among its 12 opponents.

Ole Miss athletic director Pete Boone said the Rebels didn’t intend to schedule two FCS (formerly Division 1-AA) teams in one season and that it won’t happen again. Sometimes, though, that’s the price you have to pay for making the big bucks from television.

Moving its game with South Carolina to a Thursday, Sept. 24, forced Ole Miss to make several late changes to its schedule and left it scrambling for an opponent to complete its schedule. After several months, the Rebels finally settled on Northern Arizona.

Both Northern Arizona and Southeastern Louisiana will be first-time foes for Ole Miss, as will UAB of the Football Bowl Subdivision.
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About David Moorman

Dave Moormann is an award-winning journalist, who has covered LSU athletics since 1980. He began his coverage with the Baton Rouge Advocate, where he was a writer and editor from 1980-98. In 1996, he authored a book on the history of LSU football entitled, "Fighting Tigers Handbook: Stories, Stats...
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