HUGH KELLENBERGER: ‘Swagged’ Mullen not leading on flag issue

So when the question came from The Clarion-Ledger’s Michael Bonner, it was an opportunity to really slam home the kind of response that makes it clear Mullen’s take on the issue. And this is what we got: “That’s a lot for people in Jackson and for the people in Mississippi. I know — I don’t see it very often. We don’t have it on our campus up. I do know we’re the most diverse campus in the Southeastern Conference. I know the university embraces that diversity as a whole. I certainly embrace that diversity. We’re so diverse, they have a Yankee as the head football coach in the Southeastern Conference.

“I think it’s something that on a national level is getting an awful lot of attention right now, that people are really looking into how we can make things better in the state of Mississippi. And I hope as a university we’re out on the forefront trying to help make things better with the type of school that we have and the diversity we have in our school.”

It was meandering and weak, and Mullen never actually answered the question: What is your opinion on the current state flag? Was that the point? And Dan, the guy before you was the first black football coach in the SEC and that’s probably a better sign of diversity than hiring a guy from New Hampshire.

Most of the time Mullen is a columnist’s dream. He’s outspoken, engaging and always up to something. And while the media here all used to laugh when said he was going to bring a championship to Starkville, the five weeks the Bulldogs spent as No. 1 made sure nobody did that Tuesday. He believes in his players, cornerback Taveze Calhoun said, and that’s been an important part of the rise as a program.

But in this situation, Mullen wasn’t ready or willing to lead.