I was listening to the podcast version of Jake Wimberly’s radio show The Drive at 5 on ESPN 105.9 in Jackson. There was a point in the show where Jake went on a small rant about the Mississippi St. Bulldogs fans and how there is a “Communist Party” that is prevalent in our midst. Here’s the clip.
A lot of Mississippi State fans don’t like the fact he used the term communist party. That’s fine. I know Jake, and I know that he might be just as passionate about politics as he is about football, so when he sees an opportunity to mix the two, he is going to take it. But the larger and more important question is if his overall point about the attitude among fans is true.
And I think he might have a point.
His larger point is many MSU fans don’t want any perceived negativity being expressed toward the players. Expressing negativity goes against the “family” mantra many have so eagerly adopted. After all, they work really hard and put in so much effort to win football games that we shouldn’t be critical of the players. And with the loss to South Alabama, there have been plenty of opportunities to be critical. People who are critical are often accused of not being “True Maroon” or worse yet, Ole Miss fans.
Now then, there’s a difference between being honest in criticism and being an idiot. The people who tweeted horrible things about Westin Graves and posted idiotic statements on Facebook about the kicker missing the kick at the end of the game are idiots. But people who looked at what they saw on the field from the players and think they could have done more are completely justified.
But this “communist party” that Jake described thinks all criticism should be reserved for the coaches. And it is true they bear the beast of the burden, but they can only do so much. It is ultimately up to the players to go out and execute on the field.
Jake brought up something that was also discussed on 3rd and 57 about the lack of leadership at the quarterback position and how it was on full display this past summer. Bob Carskadon wrote a light-hearted piece analyzing the facial hair of all the players on the team. And Damian Williams expressed his extreme displeasure on Twitter.
@bobcarskadon take everybody's down, we're suppose to be family— Damian Williams (@DamianDevon) July 21, 2016
Jake and Steve mentioned that a quarterback who gets so upset about something like this is not the guy you want leading your team. But strangely, little was said about the reaction by Williams and a few of the other members of the football team.
I have no problem with people who want to be positive all the time when it comes to discussing our football team. If that is how you want to go about as a fan, then so be it.
But I also believe those who want to vent their frustration when players don’t perform the way they are supposed to should feel free to do so without being labeled as something less than State fans. And when the players mess up off the field, they need to know they are going to be held accountable by the fans as well.
The Mississippi State football team and its season have reached a critical point in the life of the program. The loss to South Alabama has brought a lot of anger and frustration to its fans, but most of all, it has brought fear. Many now fear the team is about to descend back to the bottom of the SEC totem pole where it spent virtually its entire existence before the years of Jackie Sherrill and Dan Mullen.
While I believe the Bulldogs can beat the Gamecocks this coming Saturday, I have far more doubt about the potential of victory than I did at the beginning of the season. If the Bulldogs lose, then emotions will be as high as they ever have been during the Dan Mullen era.
If that should come to pass, then there will be many fans who openly criticize the way the players are playing and the effort they are giving. It won’t make them any less of a Bulldog or any less supportive of the program. They’re just being a fan in the only way they know how. And we all need to let them do so.