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Rick Ray is NOT at a Crossroads

MSU is down to 5 scholarships players that aren't suspended, hurt or otherwise - what does it say about Rick Ray?


Sometimes in life, there are people who think the exact opposite of you. For me, and especially for basketball discussion, it's justinrsutton. And he wrote this piece right here on FWtCT on Monday. To say I disagree would be putting it mildly.

Here is an excerpt from his article....

At this point, it is fair to ask what these team rules are. Ray said there is no backtalk or disrespect at practice or in the locker room. Is it skipping class? Is it smoking pot? Is it showing up late to practice? Is it kicking a puppy? Who knows? Certainly not most of us.

Here is an unpopular truth: Rick Ray has a discipline problem at Mississippi State.

No one should have to suspend as many players for a violation of team rules as Rick Ray has done. In my estimation, one of three factors is at play with these suspensions: Rick Ray has made unfair rules, Rick Ray is too sensitive about the actions of his players, or Rick Ray has not adequately communicated his expectations to his team.

I'm a firm believer in giving a coach time to get his team together, but it is hard to not start thinking that Rick Ray is already reaching a crossroads in his Mississippi State career.

First off, all of the players (Steele, Johnson, Zeidaks, and Smith) to get suspended except for Borchert were Stansbury players. What's more, Sword, Thomas and Ware were all recruited and committed to play for Stansbury - although they haven't been in trouble and never played under Stans, they were still not hand-picked by Ray.

Next, how can anyone say Ray shouldn't suspend these players for violating rules?

I have zero respect for coaches who just let players do whatever they want and there are no repercussions. Ray has a unique opportunity to mold and shape young men to be leaders in the community when they leave MSU. Now and forever these players will be known to have played college basketball at Mississippi State, and they will have opportunities to be leaders wherever they go because of it. By disciplining them, by making sure they are held accountable for their actions, Ray is doing them a favor.

Pretty much all of us at some point in our lives have made some questionable decisions. We've done some things knowing full well they were wrong. In fact, most of us have parents that brought us up for 12, 15, 20+ years instilling in us what is right and wrong. We had teachers, preachers, mentors trying to guide us down the right path - but we still did wrong, we went against what they said - and we knew better. But we expect Rick Ray to be running a tight ship after only knowing the players for under a year?

Jalen Steele is still under indefinite suspension, but he knows he made a mistake...

The thing I like about Rick Ray is that he's trying to help these kids. My buddy Sly Croom just booted them off the team the first time they let out a stinky fart. How does that help them become "men of character"? Sure, after a while you have to part ways because a bad apple is a bad apple, but I'll admire Ray for holding these players accountable without giving up on them.

Is Ray too sensitive? Are his rules unfair? I don't know. I don't even know what his rules are (and it's not our business to know what they are or what the players have done wrong). But I have a hard time believing, after he has suspended so many players, that his rules haven't been communicated effectively. If the players don't understand them, then we're in even more trouble as a basketball program.

Rick Ray sounds like a black and white kind of guy. I'm kind of like that too, and sometimes to my detriment, because life is in the grey most of the's not always black or white, right or wrong. Still, we hired Rick Ray to be our basketball coach and I'll give him the benefit of the doubt during his first year. He is undoubtedly still learning as a leader, as a mentor. He's setting the tone for the program he will run. He is showing the parents of future recruits what he stands for. And if what we want is a hard-nosed, disciplined basketball team that plays with grit and determination - this is the way it has to be.

Things haven't gone well this year - at all. But in no way is Ray at a crossroads. In fact, just the opposite. He has entrenched himself in the program and has clear path and direction for where we are going. And I like it.