After what happened in the last six games of the 2012 season, it seems like Mississippi State football fans have a collective “meh” feeling. I guess five losses by an average of 21 points including a loss to Ole Miss and the bowl game will do that to you.
Look at the spring game attendance: 21,000 showed up for the maroon and white game. The SEC average was 40,733 – but looking at some recent spring games it shows the level of disinterest. 2012’s game – one in which you had to pay for – drew more: 22,604. In 2011: 36,357. In 2010: 34,127.
It was a beautiful Saturday. The baseball team got 14,562 in Dudy Noble Field for the 2nd largest crowd in NCAA baseball history. The free football scrimmage could only muster 6,500 more?
There is definitely a segment of the fanbase that either doesn’t want Mullen anymore or has Mullen on their last string. That’s just the way it is these days. But even so, plenty of other State fans don’t seem to be very excited.
Do we just want something more than the couple of 8-4 seasons and three bowl games we’ve seen?
Are we just down in the dumps about how our season ended?
Is Ole Miss’ rise from the ashes on the field and recruiting trails getting us down?
Are the prospects of an insanely tough 2013 schedule and another 6-6 year just not enough to get the juices flowing?
Metaphor (not a comparison so no need to write a strongly worded e-mail): as a fanbase we are like the nation of Israel when Moses led God’s people out of slavery in Egypt. They wanted to get there so badly they stopped believing God would deliver them so they created false idols and disobeyed God. As punishment God made them wander the desert for 40 years in search of the promised land.
MSU flat out sucked from 2001-2006 and we weren’t really that great 2007-2009 either. But we’ve exited that terrible period and have entered one where we are no longer suffering, but we haven’t reached the pentacle. There are some in our fanbase ready to give up on the current course – ready to go in a different direction to reach the top. Metaphor over.
I almost feel like the fanbase is at a crossroads in 2013. I’ll throw a number out there – 15% – that would like Mullen gone. Maybe another 20% are just indifferent about him. Another 40% just aren’t as excited about the prospects of another season beating up on a few non-conference foes, Kentucky, and a couple others to end up in a lower-tier bowl game. What used to be the goal is now expected.
If we go 6-6 and lose to Ole Miss again, you can bet that 20% is going to jump into the 15% and create about 1/3 of our fanbase wanting Mullen gone. The linchpin to the psyche of a good majority of our fanbase is that Ole Miss game. If we go 6-6 but beat Ole Miss I’d say things stay the same.
Still, fans want more that what we’ve been getting, and that probably means some signature wins. If nothing else, it can get stale if you know when you’re going to win and when you’re going to lose. Even if we only go 6-6 but we beat say a LSU or South Carolina and lose to Kentucky or something I think there would be more excitement.
While there are some things the football program can do to bring excitement, I think there are also plenty of things the fans should do as well. We have to stay the course and keep supporting the program.
As Coach mentioned last week, we are on a similar trajectory as South Carolina has been under Steve Spurrier. Right now we’ve put together back-to-back really good recruiting classes. Do that a couple more times and you’ll have an entire team of top 25 classes. Improvements are being made to the coaching staff, the facilities, stadium, etc.
This is a very exciting time for the MSU football program. Never in our history have we made it to four consecutive bowl games – we have a chance to do that in 2013. In the same sense that we are building onto Davis Wade, we are building a football program…it just takes time.
I hope State fans maintain the excitement level we have shown the last 3+ years and pack the stadium every week, give to the Bulldog Club and help lift our football program to the next level. We will get to the promised land.