This is our “State”. By now, you’ve seen the billboards or at least glanced at a photo of one. You know the one, Dan Mullen welcomes travelers to our great state with the clear message that MSU is the leader in Mississippi. My initial thought was simply, “what a great snapshot of where Mississippi State stands right now… on top”.
That’s right… on top! The Bulldogs are leading the way in the state of Mississippi and you need not look any further than the current leadership to see why.
For the first time in a very long time the Bulldogs are united from Dr. Keenum to Scott Stricklin, Dan Mullen to the ticket taker, everyone is on the same page with the message we’re here to win. It isn’t just talk; they’re backing their promises up with wins on the field and growth on campus. If Mississippi State is involved the clear goal is to lead the way.
This newfound attitude didn’t happen overnight, it has been and continues to be a process, a process that requires dedication and determination to push the “People’s University” to the forefront.
Just this morning State’s athletic director gave a great example as to their purpose in one of his early morning tweets.
“Our 3 “Foundations” for success: 1) focus on student-athletes; 2) possess great integrity & 3) aggressively promote Mississippi State,” this was his message. It is just a simple reminder that Mississippi State knows who they are and where they are going.
This philosophy that guides State has led them into uncharted waters, at least from my vantage point. They are going places and doing things they’ve not dared to dream of. Sure, there have been successful periods in the past, but never has MSU had the leadership it needed when the opportunity was present.
Bulldog Club memberships are up. University donations are increasing. They are on the verge of announcing a multi-million dollar gift. Facilities are improving. Stadium expansion plans are in the works. The bottom line is that Mississippi State has become an intelligently aggressive university.
Time to step forward…
For the first time in my lifetime, Mississippi State is in a true leverage position in the state. And the time has come for the fans to realize the opportunity the University has in front of it.
I’m not being critical of the MSU fan base, you’ve been amazing. Record season ticket sales, stadium sellouts, and wearing Maroon with pride. No question the Bulldog faithful have been doing their part.
That being said, it is time for the fan base to take the next step, changing the mindset. I’m not talking about the woe-is-me attitude… I’m saying it is time to think and act like leaders. You do it every day in your day-to-day lives. You run your company as a leader. You lead in your community. Now it is time to lead as a fan of Mississippi State.
The time has passed where you’re overly concerned with the antics and tactics from a rival university. As a leader you will always be attacked and undermined, but because you are leader you’re prepared for those events.
I’m not suggesting you turn the other cheek… just the opposite. By leading the way you handle the threats as they come at you not ignore them.
Case-in-point… our rival university is currently employing the tactics to slander Mississippi State, spreading rumors and false information with the goal of impacting State’s current recruiting class.
The plan is designed to get a reaction from the MSU fanbase, not MSU leadership. They want fans to react with venom and disgust, ultimately taking the focus off of the 9-4 season and Gator Bowl victory, not to mention back-to-back Egg Bowl victories.
The one flaw in the plan is that it requires a negative fan reaction. If the fans don’t react … the plan doesn’t have the desired impact.
So the challenge is with us… are we going to help the adversary’s cause by reacting in a negative fashion or will be react with the realization they have made themselves irrelevant?
For years the guys up north have lived with the completely misplaced attitude that MSU is inferior. They simply projected the falsehood as a fact. Now the shoe is on the other foot and you have the chance to factually tell them they are no longer relevant. The Bulldogs are now driving the bus and there is simply nothing they can do to change that fact.
Mississippi State has moved past the days where the only game that matters is the rivalry game. Sure that game is big, bigger than the others, but State is now about competing for and winning championships and that requires goals that are much bigger than beating your rivals. The players believe it, the coaches believe it, the administration believes it and now it is time for the fans to live it!
Winning is a learned behavior…
From day one we’ve heard Greg Byrne, Dan Mullen and Scott Stricklin preach the message of changing the culture to a winning culture. It took time. It took an aggressive plan. Now your university is in position to win and win consistently and with that comes a new set of difficulties.
When you win you’ll have an increase in coaches leaving for other jobs. You’ll have more attacks from your rivals. You’ll have to learn how to deal with expectations. And I think we all would agree…what a great set of problems to have!
As fans we all need to learn to trust in the plan and the people in place at MSU. They have proven they can adapt to change and make good hires when needed. Gone are the days when there is a need for panic when a coach leaves.
As a group we need to learn from others who have experienced winning at a high level for an extended period of time. Take Florida for example… for years their coaches have been plucked from their system yet they don’t panic, they just make a solid hire. When Urban Meyer stepped down they just went out and got the guy they wanted. Texas didn’t panic… they hired Manny Diaz. That’s just how it works with programs that win. The time has come to accept that Mississippi State is moving in the right direction and with that will come the problems of winning.
Know that the Bulldogs are there yet, but with a couple more seasons of winning and New Year’s day games, Starkville will cease to be a mere stopover until something better comes along.
At the end of the day…
When you stop and think about it, Mississippi State has come a long way in a very short period of time. The mindset has changed. Expectations have increased. The passion for the Maroon and White is off the charts. Know that the leadership at Mississippi State is focused on delivering a product and a reputation we can all be proud of.
We’re not going to win every game. We’re not going to get everyone recruit. However, you can rest assured Mississippi State is focused on the task at hand… win with integrity.
Isn’t it time we’re all on the same page…