Bear with me here. Over the next few paragraphs, I'm going to take you into the brain of what being the AD at Mississippi State is probably like over the course of the next several days. We, as Bulldogs fans, can only hope this is not exactly how things go.
Life's pretty tough for me right now. Things were going great just a month ago. The basketball team was in the top fifteen of the country. We were a shoe-in for the tourney. All the pressure that Coach Stansbury had been under was lifted, and it looked like I wasn't going to have to can him. Before I get to Rick, let's recap my time as the de facto C.E.O. of Bulldog Athletics.
Things have been relatively easy for me over my first few years. I've been able to sit back and watch the fruit of Greg Byrne's labor manifest itself into back-to-back bowl games for the football team as well as demolishing our rival a few years in a row. That Cohen hire seemed to work out pretty good. He got us back in the Super Regional in year three, and before a rash of injuries, this years squad looked to be his strongest. I made a few minor hires in non-revenue producing sports. Those are important too, ya know? They've done pretty well. The softball team is pretty good, but c'mon, it's softball(no offense ladies, we love your newfound success). Sharon Fanning retired(or did she get fired, I don't even know the answer to that. GET KEENUM ON THE PHONE! I NEED ANSWERS!). I filled that spot with......../checks press release.......51 year old Vic Schaefer. Schaefer! That's who! Wait....51? I thought we were going young and energetic with coaches? KEEEEEENUUMMMMM!!!!!
Now, here I am. In the midst of what will most probably define my time as the Athletic Director at Mississippi State. Some have said this is where I will separate myself as either the Robin to Greg Byrne's Batman or rival him as a rising star in the business of college athletics. My detractors criticized my selection as the A.D. because I was too close to the school and viewed this as my "dream job"(by the way, my dream job is being a hand model. shoutout George Costanza, you're my hero). They may be right. It seems as if my affinity for this job and my position is rendering me with not much choice to make. Stansbury really screwed me on this one. I've gotten so much fan email and mentions on my twitter account that we haven't been able to serve lunch at Perry Cafeteria for the last five days because we had to bring the lunch ladies in to sift through it all. The response hasn't been what you would call positive. Most of the fans want him gone. I don't blame them. If we're not going to make the NCAA Tournament, then why would they put up with such dysfunction, chaos, and lack of effort?
But here in lies the ying to most fans yang. Most of those people that are emailing me aren't putting their name on Million dollar athletic facilities, amirite? These big money guys, the guys I have to keep happy if I'm gonna keep this job for the long haul, the guys that are gonna help me build that new end zone at the football stadium, are coincidentally tied to Stansbury. They can't let go. They won't let go. They value their status within the basketball program so much, that they would rather watch us underachieve with Rick than to head in a different direction with someone else. I appreciate the outcry and outpour of responses from our fans. It lets me know they care. When we stop caring is when we have a BIG problem. And well they should. They spend their hard-earned money on travel, tickets, food, and parking for twenty some odd games a year. They deserve a say here.
The thing I keep telling these big time donors is, "you'll still have your status with the new coach, you'll just have to build a relationship." They ain't buying it. They, among a few others, are also scared stupid that we could turn into the 1980's Bob Boyd Bulldogs and starting winning 10-15 games a year. Well that could happen. It could. But, that defeatist attitude from the jump is what I said I would not allow from the beginning of my tenure. I said that Mississippi State University could WIN championships. Not compete, not try, not think about, but WIN. To do that, I think we have to kick ol' Stans to the curb.
If we are going to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps as an athletic department, then we have to be progressive and agressive. We can't settle for mediocrity anymore. Don't get me wrong, Rick has done some great things here, but no matter how much equity he has built up with his banners, missing the tournament three years in a row is not acceptable. Missing the tournament 5 out of the last 7 years is not acceptable. Not for a school that has a Final Four banner hanging in its rafters. Not with all the off court problems this program has had. Not with the shame it has given fans over the lack of heart and effort. Have you been to a basketball game lately? Have you watched them on TV? You'd have a less stressful evening visiting your in-laws during Christmas(not you Bailey, it was hypothetical, NO! I love you big guy! Go Celtics! I love Larry Bird! Oh....Bird retired?)
So, that's my decision. I'll call Rick in to the office in the morning and that'll be it. I'll let him go. Respectfully. With dignity and class. Just like the winningest coach in OUR history should have done. We'll laugh, cry, maybe even scream, but it has to be done. For the sake of the program, because if I don't then..../phone rings(Big Booster A on the line). Um....yeah.....another year? For what? Why? What has he done to.....? Ok. Ok. Ok. I'll get back to you on this. GET KEENUM ON THE PHONE RIGHT NOW!!!????!?!?!?!?!?!?!1111?!!?!!111?!!?!?!!/11