It's no surprise that a WAC coach telling reporters that his team was just as talented as his 2011 SEC opponents is turning heads -- including one belonging to the coach of one of those teams.
Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes told the Monroe (La.) News-Star this week that there was "no difference" between the players available to his staff and those on Dan Mullen's roster in Tech's 26-20 overtime loss to the Bulldogs last fall. He even added that his players were, in fact, superior to those on the Ole Miss team his Bulldogs defeated 27-7.
"I was shocked," Dykes said. "I would like to say we coached 'em better or we were real smart and pat ourselves on the back, but we had better players than they did."
To this point, Hugh Freeze hasn't had anything to say about that. But reached by the Clarion-Ledger Thursday, Mullen was willing to respond with his two cents regarding Dykes's jab.
“I guess if the players are equal we must have better coaches here at Mississippi State, since we won,” Mullen said -- "in jest," according to reporter Brandon Marcello. And his next comment didn't do anything to fan the flames.
“They are a very good football team," Mullen said. "Sonny does a great job with their program.”
Of course, Mullen can afford to be generous. Even if Tech outgained his SEC program 359 to 340 (and had the ball within range of the game-winning field goal before a back-breaking Nick Isham interception), he won. The same can't be said for Freeze's program -- it's hard to argue Dykes isn't correct in his assessment there after a 20-point curb-stomping, even if Houston Nutt had just been fired -- and might explain why there hasn't been a shot back in Ruston's direction from Oxford ... yet.
Even so, the full text of Dykes's quote makes it clear fans of neither Mississippi school is going to be inviting him over for Sunday dinner any time soon:
We have better players than people think ... Last year we played Mississippi State, and I swear to you there was no difference in our players and theirs. I was shocked. There was no difference. They might've had a little more depth, but across the board our players were about as good as theirs. We played Ole Miss, and we kinda played 'em at a time that wasn't really good for them, and I think we beat 'em by about 24 points (for emphasis: it was 20.--ed.) and had better players than they did. I was shocked. I would like to say we coached 'em better or we were real smart and pat ourselves on the back, but we had better players than they did.
Forgive us if we don't come away from that thinking Dykes kind of is patting himself on the back -- and that if he ever faces the Bulldogs or Rebels again, his team won't be taken quite as lightly.
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