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Alabama State Champs

Posted by Kevin on November 12, 2007

Mississippi State 19 | Auburn 14

Mississippi State 30 | UAB 13

Mississippi State 17 | Alabama 12

My, how feelings for the Mississippi State football program have changed…  Sylvester Croom was brought in as the SEC’s first black head football coach after Jackie Sherrill left the program in shambles.  Many fans, myself included, felt that the MSU brass hired Croom out of pressure to break the color barrier instead of hiring the right man for the job of turning the football program around.  Some still feel that way.  My stance has softened.

From day one, Croom told us that it would take time years to turn the program around.  There would be many more losses for us to endure.  But the program would improve.  We kept losing.  And losing.  Players got in trouble.  Croom kicked them out of the program.  He told some they might want to consider transferring because there was no room for them in his program.  And we’re not talking about scrub players.  We’re talking SEC caliber players.  But many of them lacked the two traits Croom demanded: character and discipline.  Croom said from day one things were going to change.  He said he would turn the program around, but that it would take time, and he was going to do it the right way…. with the right players.

Now here we are.  2007.  Fresh off an emotional and monumental victory over Alabama to make State bowl eligible for the first time since the 2000 season.  Four long years after Croom was hired.  Just one year removed from a 3-win season.  Many people jumped on the bandwagon after the Kentucky game saying the corner to returning the program to consistently playing in the post-season had been turned.  Still, I was hesitant.

I am now officially on the bandwagon.  As far as I’m concerned, Croom has made good on his promise.  State not only beat Alabama this weekend, but we did it by not giving up when previous teams would have caved and given up.  The offense sputtered right out of the gate, but the defense was there to keep Alabama out of the end zone and keep the game close.  Then, just seconds before halftime the defense turned the entire game around.  With Alabama seemingly on the doorstep of a touchdown to go into the half with a 16-3 lead, Titus Brown broke through the Alabama line and pressured John Parker Wilson.  Wilson threw a desperation pass that Mississippi State defensive back Anthony Johnson picked off in the end zone and raced 104 yards the opposite direction to give the 56,000+ fans something to cheer about.  The stadium was absolutely deafening as State entered the locker room leading Bama 10-9.  Momentum was clearly on State’s side.  Even in the second half, when the offense sputtered the defense was there to keep Bama in check and held on for the victory.

State has now won two huge SEC road games (Auburn and Kentucky) and beaten Alabama for the second year in a row.  They’ve beaten three top-25 teams.  They gave Tennessee a scare before wearing out.  They played West Virginia tough after spotting the Mountaineers 28 points in the first 17 minutes of the game.  The team has two traits that Croom has demanded from day one: character and discipline.  And they don’t quit.  Ever.  Yes, this program has turned the corner.

There is a long way to go, but Croom has proven himself to me.  His way works.  It just takes time.


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