Fans, students, alumni, outsiders, we can all say we either want to keep Stansbury or fire him. But there's only a select few who are actually making the decision. While we can put pressure on the MSU administration, only the big shot boosters and members of the administration really influence Stricklin. The question is, what does he think about Stansbury's position, and is he making plans in case he needs to fire him?
Well, if they are not, they should be. And it may not even be about winning and losing. It's about how Mississippi State fans view the basketball program.
The attendance for the Kentucky game was 10,213. That was the 19th largest in MSU history. Is that not a sign of apathy towards this program? How often do we play a #1 team at the Hump? I believe Florida in 2007 was the last time, before that I'm not sure...but it doesn't happen too often. And this State team was good enough to have a chance to win (which they did), but it only produces the 19th largest crowd?
The Hump has held 10,500 throughout Stansbury's tenure, the most successful run in MSU history. But only the 19th largest crowd, not even a sellout!
The atmosphere was electric during the first half of the Kentucky game. And no doubt fans at the Hump were ready to damage their vocal chords with 40 minutes of screaming...but they couldn't muster the belief in this team. After UK got the margin below 10 the energy was sucked out. I felt it myself, we'd seen this story before, we weren't going to get it done. I didn't believe, and neither did the fans in the stands.
Apathy is a really bad thing for a fan base. Following college sports, paying money for tickets, merchandise, etc. is a hobby. Folks use their discretionary income on this stuff. The MSU athletic department is vying for the extra dollars you have left after you pay all the bills. And if you don't care about the basketball team, then you'll spend it elsewhere. And if you aren't paying attention, sponsors want to back away. An apathetic fan base = less money for the athletic department.
Why is there apathy? Why are fans ready to throw in the towel? Here's a good explanation from Mr. SEC: "wins are like haircuts, you can get a great one but pretty soon you're going to need another one, and another. Losses, on the other hand, are like tarter on your teeth. They just continue to build up and build up until all anyone sees are yellow teeth".
Scott Stricklin and the folks in charge know this. So I have to imagine he already has a 'short list' of candidates who would replace Stans if he can't get another one of those good haircuts.
If more than 40-50% of MSU basketball fans either want Stansbury gone or just don't care as long as he's the coach, then he's got to go. This isn't football where people are going to watch no matter what (for real, who is excited about the game on Saturday?). It doesn't matter who he is, it doesn't matter what he's done...in the end it may just be a business decision.