Ben Howland Bringing Tears to the Hoosiers


Oct 21, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; Mississippi State Bulldog head coach Ben Howland speaks with the media during SEC Tipoff held at Ballantyne Hotel. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Howland has set the recruiting world on fire since he was hired at Mississippi State in March of this year. Coach Howland let it be known he was at Mississippi State to become not just an SEC contender, but also a national contender when he signed Malik Newman after only being the head coach for a month.

But he hasn’t stopped. Because Mississippi State’s current roster has a large number of seniors on it this season, the Bulldogs have room to sign a lot of players for the 2016-17 season. And Ben Howland isn’t just filling the roster with average players.

Yesterday, which was the first day of the early signing period for College Basketball, Mississippi State received a National Letter of Intent from Mario Kegler, the 32nd ranked player in the country according to 247 Sports. This brought Mississippi State’s recruiting class to Number 6 nationally. And Ben Howland still isn’t done.

The next big target for Ben Howland is De’Ron Davis, a forward from Overland, Colorado. De’Ron Davis and Mario Kegler have something in common. They are both highly sought after Indiana recruits.

And Indiana fans aren’t thrilled with the way Mississippi State is influencing guys they thought they had either changing their mind or at least strongly considering it. One of the most vocal to bash Mississippi State in the wake of this recruiting resurgence is Alex Bozich, who is the founder of the web site Inside the Hall.

More from Maroon and White Nation

Ah, the old “Starkville is pathetic” line. I’ve often said this is the most contrived narrative around Mississippi State, but people will continue to wear it into the ground until the stereotype from so many years ago finally dies. Being a Mississippi State graduate from almost 15 years ago, there was plenty to do there then, and there is even more now.

If you went by the past three seasons, support has been abysmal. But that is a blip on the radar. Mississippi State fans are as supportive of their basketball team as just about any fans in the country. The Hump was routinely packed during the Rick Stansbury era. And the facilities argument is just laughable. Mississippi State’s improvement in facilities across the entire athletic department have put Mississippi State on par with almost every program in the country.

This might be my favorite tweet Mr. Bozich sent out. Why? Because he then sent out this tweet about Indiana’s exhibition game.

Imagine that. A game that doesn’t count doesn’t pack the stadium. Mr. Bozich isn’t the only Hoosier fan having a hard time dealing with Mississippi State trying to take their recruits. There are others.

CHEATERS!! THEY MUST ALL BE CHEATERS!! This is the worst move any fan base can make. Even if the accusation were true, what makes you certain your program is squeaky clean?

I’ll at least cut Albers some slack. He had this to say about Mississippi State fans just last night.

I don’t know if Davis will go to Mississippi State. He announces his decision today at 4:00 at his high school in Colorado. It would be a huge loss for Indiana because they spent three years recruiting De’Ron Davis, and Ben Howland has cut into that lead significantly in just a matter of months.

The one thing any program should understand is that this isn’t the same Mississippi State of the past 5 years. Stansbury was a good recruiter, but he doesn’t have anything on Howland. And Ben Howland may not get every top target he sets his eyes on, but he is going to get more than he won’t. And Indiana fans will tell you, he’s going to make you sweat for those he doesn’t.