There are some things that are just really tough to write. I have stared at this keyboard and computer screen since I saw that tweet from Chris Del Conte roll across my timeline:
Guess who’s coming to the Forty... pic.twitter.com/hSAyjbvqTH— Chris Del Conte (@_delconte) April 5, 2020
How do you even begin to show your appreciation for someone who has done so much for the program you love?
I think it starts with something simple: Thank you.
When you start to compile a list of some of the greatest coaches in the sport of basketball, you have to include Vic Schaefer. When you think about one of the greatest people you will ever meet, you have to include Vic Schaefer. It is so incredibly rare that you can talk about someone like that in the same sentence, and you can, undoubtedly, do that about Vic Schaefer. He is like the uncle that you have always dreamed of. He is passionate, driven, and is absolutely full of “shoots” and “dadgumits”.
I know that some fans are upset about how he left and the timing of everything. I don’t have any explainations for that or any way to make that sound right. What I do know is: I may or may not have shed a tear or two. What I know even more about is this: At Mississippi State, we are family. Through all the crazy moments we have had through the years, regardless of the ending, it seems only fitting that a thank you is in order. To me, this is the most influential team of the decade. In a time where we needed a team to rally behind, there was your team. It was Vic Schaefer and a team of some absolutely kick-ass women. We watched impossible shots from Vivians, a million rebounds from Teiara McCowan, and clutch charges by Blair. We all went crazy together and we all were devastated together.
You know, as I sat on my couch on Sunday, I truly realized what this team had done in eight years under your leadership. It was always more than the wins and the losses. It was always more than being #1 or lifting a trophy. It was all about bringing people together, every single game day. We grew women’s basketball into the talk of the town. We grew women's basketball overall. We were one of the greatest underdog stories in all of sports. Our basketball team was the talk of the nation for eight years. Man, did we do some winning though, too. We had unprecedented success over the last eight years. We had an SEC Championship. We had back-to-back National Championship appearances. We had a Final Four game for the ages. We won 221 games. We even had a buzzer-beater:
But most importantly, we had a really great time.
The success was great and the success will go on here, but people aren’t sad about losing success, because success comes and goes. People are going to miss guessing when you were going to rip that jacket off or how many times a ref was going to tell you to get off the court. They are going to miss the way you loved your players and the way you loved your fans. You know, I’ll never forget February 25th, 2018. The team had just beaten Kentucky and finished a perfect regular season, but just as normal, the bus dropped the team off in the Zacharias Village. I had driven from Southaven, MS, about 2.5 hours away, just to meet the team on this particular Sunday. Off stepped the team to a parking lot full of cowbells. No sooner than a player had stepped a foot off the bus, the rain began to pour down. There I was, an eager fan, ready to meet Coach Schaefer for the first time in person. The crowd immediately started heading to their cars when Coach Schaefer stepped off the bus with a giant SEC-decorated umbrella. Vic Schaefer stood in the rain for 45 minutes greeting and thanking fans for coming. He signed autographs, took selfies, and even held someone’s dog for a picture. That is what he is all about, and that is what fans will miss.
While we are upset, and still trying to process our emotions, I wish that we, again, not forget one thing: We are FaMily. In the words of the great Bob Carksadon, “Wherever you go, we go with you”. We will do just that, with a cowbell in hand. You are bigger than basketball, Coach, and for that, we thank you. We love the HAIL out of you, Vic. We we will keep praising the Lord and cheering on those Dawgs forever.