10 Biggest What Ifs in Mississippi State Sports History

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4. What if Allyn McKeen was retained after the 1948 season?

Outside of his comment: “I already know what hell is like. I once coached at Ole Miss”, I can’t think of a reason why MSU’s baseball stadium is named after Dudy Noble. He only won a few Southern Conference baseball titles in a nearly three decade tenure as head coach, and he fired Allyn McKeen when he was Athletic Director. Terrible move.

In 1939, Allyn McKeen took over as head coach and immediately produced with an 8-2 season. He is without a doubt Mississippi State’s most successful coach in football history going 65-19-3 (.764).

The 1940 team still holds the only undefeated season in program history as they finished 10-0-1 with an Orange Bowl victory over No. 9 Georgetown. Tennessee finished that year undefeated and untied for the SEC crown. State was one of just five undefeated teams in the country, however, and finished 9th in the final AP poll.

1941 is considered by many to be Mississippi State’s best season. Perhaps adding to the justification of a national championship banner, the Maroons only played three home games that year – and only one of them was a SEC game (Florida). State beat Alabama 14-0 on the road, however, the Tide claim a national title (as we’ve discussed in this post).

Allyn McKeen guided the program to a 8-2 record in 1942 before skipping the 1943 season due to World War II. In 1944, the Maroons were 6-2. Then 6-3 in 1945, 8-2 in ’46, 7-3 in ’47 and finally 4-4-1 in 1948 which resulted in Coach McKeen’s ouster.

Does one lackluster year erase eight previous years of tremendous success? McKeen averaged over seven wins in an era of 9-10 games per year. Losing three of four to Ole Miss ultimately tarred a great career that could have set Mississippi State on a path to become an upper tier SEC program had he been allowed to continue.

MSU would go 0-8-1 in 1949 under Slick Morton. The program would not win as many as eight games again (which McKeen did 56 percent of the time) until 1974.