Hello, Bulldog fans.
During the third quarter of Saturday’s Mississippi State season opener against Louisiana Tech, I started preparing a guide on how to handle the pains of being a Mississippi State fam. I needed some misfortune to serve as the backdrop for such a tongue-in-cheek downer of a piece, and being down 31-14 to a Conference USA opponent in the second half of a season opener qualifies (No offense Louisiana Tech, can’t imagine how you must be feeling right now).
“Oh look, make that 34-14 now.”
The defense held the visiting Bulldogs to one more field goal early in the fourth quarter.
“Well, at least that keeps it only a three-possession game,” I thought, laughing maniacally at myself, as if I were a mental patient who just learned that two months had been removed from his 100-year sentence.
Then the offense scored. It was a joyless score, but they scored. Some fans offered excitement. Good on ‘em.
Then the defense forced a quick stop. My stomach did that thing it does.
“Don’t make me feel hope, please don’t make me hope,” said a text from a friend, a text I’m all too familiar with being a fan of this program.
Then they kept scoring and kept getting stops. Then a lot of nonsense happened at the end. And then Mississippi State won. Mississippi State won the cursed thing by a point.
So, now my guide is about more than just pain. It’s about how to deal with whatever in the world that was. Because with Mike Leach, it’s just getting started.
Tip No. 1: Keep “hope” in a dark quiet place that is accessible if need be but can also be sent away forever should the time come.
I like to keep my hope in each coach that comes through Mississippi State in a metaphorical toilet. My hope in said coach just sits in the bowl, wading in the water, within reach at all times despite an understandable hesitation to reach in and grab it should I want to. But the option is always there. Adversely, there is also the option to permanently flush said hopes away forever, as I did with the last regime.
No, it’s not time to flush our Leach toilets.
And it still wouldn’t have been had State lost by 20 on Saturday, but, ya know, do as you must.
Tip No. 2: Get in bed with the chaos, it’s settling in for the long haul.
Of course the largest comeback in the history of Mississippi State has happened under Leach, and of course it was against Louisiana Tech (again no offense, praying for you guys right now).
We all remember how last season opened with an upset of the then reigning national champions, followed the very next week by a loss to the team in the conference with the then-longest conference losing streak. This fact ended up being quite misleading, but it’s a fact nonetheless.
The point is, Leach’s brand of football welcomes this mess, and it’s only going to continue. If you don’t believe the very opposite of last Saturday’s game can happen, then get ready, because that one’s going to hurt really bad. Under Leach, no lead is safe, whether it be his or his opponent’s. This isn’t mysticism, it directly correlates to his style of play-calling. And it’s not going to change.
Tip No. 3: TUMS®
Keep some TUMS® close. I know I should. They might help when my stomach does the thing. This season will continue to be a nerve-wracking, stress-inducing and emotionally upending roller coaster.
Tip No. 4 Manage your expectations and oh, actually, don’t have any in the first place.
We are 12 games into the Leach era. By now you should realize that predicting the current iteration of Mississippi State football is a fool’s errand. So yeah, I just would not.
Lean back, try and relax and let it happen to you.
That’s all for now, see you all on Saturday. It’s going be something.