It's time for Dan Mullen to embrace his moment and leave Mississippi State

Dan Mullen is about to have a very interesting month. Not only could it be life-changing, it should be career-changing.

This is your moment, Dan, take it.

What you've done at Mississippi State has been amazing, but it's been long enough. You know that. This is less about the candidates for the Tennessee job and more about the options you have.

Butch Jones being gone is as anti-climatic as another Kansas loss. The real news is that Florida and Tennessee are now open. Nebraska is going to be open in the next two weeks or so. Texas A&M could be next.

The opportunities are opening up wider than Nick Fitzgerald spying a hole on a quarterback draw. By whatever coaching algorithm you want to use, Mullen should get one of those jobs. Let the sweepstakes begin.

  • Florida because of the obvious. He won a couple of championships there with Urban Meyer, coached Tim Tebow and yada, yada, yada.
  • Tennessee because if there is a team more desperate for relevance inside or out of the SEC East, it's the Vols.
  • Nebraska because it has the same profile as Wisconsin -- state capital, sparsely populated, high coaching turnover lately -- but none of the winning qualities lately.
  • Texas A&M because it would make Mullen a rich(er) man. The Aggies are going to have to overpay anyway, most likely, for whoever they get because of the way they treated Kevin Sumlin.

If he doesn't land at one of those four jobs, Mullen has either turned his phone off or already accepted an NFL gig. As far as we know, neither of those are true.

Suddenly, the man has more options for his next stop than Giancarlo Stanton. Mullen is a fan/media-friendly face-of-the-program coach who can charm you in the living room and coach the hell out of quarterbacks.

He is about to become the hottest property since HGTV's latest "Beachfront Bargain Hunt" episode because of simple supply and demand.

As of right now, there are five Power Five jobs that either are currently or likely will be open -- in addition to Florida, Tennessee and Nebraska, there is Arkansas (maybe) and Oregon State (definitely).

There simply aren't enough home-run hires to go around. I'm talking about proven head coaches with a track record. I'm talking about guys who can win the press conference, then go win a bunch of games.

Even Scott Frost, killing it at UCF in his second season, isn't that.

Mullen just threw the biggest scare into Alabama since Nick Saban read the last injury report. The Tide had trailed for two minutes, 16 seconds all season. Against Mullen's band of merry pranksters, Bama had to rally to win in the final 30 seconds.

Mullen might be the best any of these schools can do. Start with the likelihood that Chip Kelly isn't heading to one of the SEC destinations. He has NCAA baggage and the SEC -- God bless it -- has an issue with that sort of thing.

Then continue with the likelihood none of the schools will be able to pull from the Holy Trinity of  Saban, Meyer and Harbaugh.

I don't know if Tennessee even has a plan. Florida may be locked in on Frost.

I do know Mullen is what qualifies as the best name left on the board. It's a damn fine quality name, too.

Mullen had the Bulldogs at No. 1 for five straight weeks in 2014. He is about to coach in his seventh straight bowl (maybe) at Mississippi State. That's never been done by one man in Starkville, Mississippi.

Mullen has a plan, a pedigree and his best shot at a get-out-of-Starkville free card since Saban built a concrete ceiling above the heads of every other coach in the SEC West.

This is his chance not only move out but to not move up. Isn't that what the Silly Season is all about?

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Dennis Dodd has covered college football for CBS Sports since it was CBS SportsLine in 1998. He is one of only seven media members to attend all 16 BCS title games and has chronicled conference realignment... Full Bio

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