The Impact of Dan Mullen’s Tenure at Mississippi State on the University and Starkville
The Flutie Effect:refers to the American phenomenon of having a successful college sports team increase the exposure and prominence of a university.*
How do Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary in 1984 against Miami and Mississippi State tie together? The appropriately named Flutie Effect has played a large part in the growth of Mississippi State University and Starkville, Mississippi, as a whole, and the benefits of this theory continue to be proven true as more and more successful athletic accomplishments happen in Starkville.
(The Multi-Million Dollar Development, The Mill in Starkville)
(The Expanded North End Zone at Davis Wade Stadium for the 2014 Season)
Then 2014 happened. During the “Year of Dak”, Mississippi State reeled off back-to-back wins over Top-10 programs (LSU and Texas A&M) early in the season, and excitement levels were at an all-time high! College Gameday, which had been in Oxford the previous week, announced they would be making their first trip to Starkville for the matchup of the week, #2 Auburn vs #3 Mississippi State. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, and the standing-room only crowd watched as the Bulldogs defeated a top-3 team for the first time in Davis Wade Stadium. Mississippi State would go on to start the season 9-0, but would finish a measly 1-3 down the stretch, failing to capitalize with a Playoff bid on the line. However, Dak-mania was in full force, as a bonafide Heisman Candidate had led Mississippi State to the first #1 Ranking in the College Football Playoff Poll and a New Year’s Six bowl, as well as a 10 win season. The 2015 enrollment numbers of Mississippi State are directly attributable to the Flutie Effect, as many area newspapers pointed out. Mississippi State’s enrollment grew to record levels (20,873), and grew the University enrollment by over 800 students. Starkville saw huge gains as well, growing by over 500 citizens by most projections*. The condo developments, restaurants and retail areas born out of this season created a huge boom in tax revenues for the city, as well as increasing the amount of jobs created as well.
In Dak’s final season as a Bulldog, 2015, the on-field success was not on the same scale as the 2014 season, but still respectable considering Mississippi State’s tradition when it comes to football. The Bulldogs would end up losing back-to-back Egg Bowls, but would go on to win their Bowl Game vs NC State on a rainy night in North Carolina, which was Dak’s last game in the Maroon and White. The Dak-effect was in full effect as over 700 new students enrolled at the University, and Mark Keenum’s goal to hit 25,000 students by 2020 seemed more attainable. MSU had grown to 21,660 students, and the town grew to over 25,500 residents in 2016. Million dollar developments were now becoming the norm in Starkville, as the town continued to show signs of growth. With Dan Mullen at the helm of the Mississippi State Football team, and Dak Prescott now manning America’s Team, it is hard to see the fruits of their labors waning any time soon.