I said I wasn't going to watch the Croom documentary, but I did. I was so sure they would botch it, I figured I'd watch just to see what was said. Here are my takes...
There was A LOT of Alabama talk. Everything short of Bear Bryant 'I love you' was discussed, and the '06 and '07 wins vs. Bama were highlighted. And, of course, how he was led to believe the Alabama job was his in May of 2003 - how he was excited about the potential to be a coach in the "southeathern" conference. But ultimately Mike Shula was hired - a move PAAAAWWWWLLLL thought was the wrong one.
The narrator said MSU was facing NCAA probation but they showed newspaper clippings to make it appear as though State was already on probation. Later in the show the narrator said MSU was "still handicapped by the NCAA sanctions that preceded his arrival". The facts: MSU wasn't put on probation until October 27, 2004; the probation was nothing more than a bowl ban for the '04 season (they were 2-5 when hearing this news), eight scholarships over two years and four years probation.
I have always thought Mike Slive pressured Larry Templeton to hire a black coach. What better way to solve this issue than make lowly MSU do it? This documentary pretty much reveals what I've always thought, to be true...
Larry Templeton: [Croom] came to the interview to tell us he did not want the job. President Lee did an unbelievable job setting the table and Sylvester just wasn't buying into it at all.
Mike Slive: It was a story not about sport but it was a story about us, a story about society, a story about the south, and I don't believe there will be a more pivotal event that will occur in my tenure no matter how long I stay here.
Sylvester Croom said if he was going to take the job he was going to do whatever he thought was best. If he had to blow it all up and start over again that's what he was going to do. Well, that's what he did. 35 scholarship players lost in the first two years.
They conveniently left out the loss to Division 1-AA Maine in favor of showing the 51-0 thumping in Baton Rouge during the 2004 season. And they failed to mention that MSU had enough talent to beat #21 Florida that year while making their point that we were so awful. Croom had this to tell his players, lifting their confidence I'm sure...
You are laying the foundation, but you'll never be here when we reap the rewards.
Brett Morgan: He never changed, he said this is the way that we're going to do it.
Yes, Brett, stubbornness, I would describe the Croom era the same way. And even now, the excuses for 2008 flowed. Five players kicked off the team, Jamar Cheney going down in the first game, etc. Croom said he lost his "offensive coordinator"...that's a bit of revisionist history as I recall he lost his defensive coordinator - if it was actually Woody McCorvey Croom might have saved his job. He said he didn't have any support from the administration once Greg Byrne took over, even thought they knew what had happened. But I think Byrne knew what happened: 22-14 loss to LA Tech, 38-7 loss to GA Tech, 34-3 loss to Tennessee, 32-7 loss to Alabama and a 45-0 beatdown by Mississippi. Byrne saw a team that went 4-8 with one of the easiest SEC schedules and a team that quit.
Croom wanted to make sure his players knew he didn't quit. He told them he was "axed" to resign.
I understand the point of this documentary. Sly Croom was the first black head coach in the SEC. I can appreciate that. But I can't help feeling like Larry Templeton pushed this from the SEC office, and Croom was happy to let folks know it was a "hard job". Yes, it was a hard job...but he didn't have to be such a bad coach. Good man - bad coach.
I didn't care for the inferences that some MSU fans wanted it done "the old way". I'm not sure exactly what they were trying to say, but I have an idea. I was in school during this time and I don't remember anybody caring one iota what color Croom's skin was. If they are talking about Croom kicking everyone who sneezed the wrong way off the team, yeah, that was a bit much and many were skeptical - but I don't think there was too much outrage about it.
Final note - I'm glad Dr. Lee is gone. Wow, listening to him talk really shines a light on how good Dr. Keenum is.