What are fan expectations for Mississippi State football in 2024?

Mississippi State football enters a new era in 2024 with Jeff Lebby taking over the program. What expectations do fans have for the Bulldogs in his first season?
Mississippi State Spring Football Game
Mississippi State Spring Football Game / Justin Ford/GettyImages

A new era of Mississippi State football gets underway just a few months from now. Jeff Lebby takes over as the head coach of the Bulldogs, bringing his high-scoring offense over from Oklahoma. And he's tasked with overhauling MSU after a frustrating 2023 season.

National outlets overwhelming expect that process to take some time. You'd be hard-pressed to find a prediction for the 2024 season that doesn't have State finishing the year with a losing record and in the same SEC tier as the lowly Vanderbilt Commodores.

Not that low expectations are anything new for Bulldog football, but it's been quite some time since opinions were this low on State.

But how do State fans feel entering this season? Obviously they're going to be higher on their team than outsiders, but just how much higher?

To get a gauge on the expectations of the Mississippi State fanbase going into 2024, I ran a pair of polls on social media between "X" (Twitter) and Facebook. Fans were asked what they needed to see to be pleased with the Bulldogs this season.

Their first three options were record based; a 7+ win season, a 6-6 season, or a 5-7 season. These are pretty straightforwardly saying how many wins the Bulldogs need to qualify the season as a positive.

Their last option related to the product on the field as opposed to a specific record; "Just be exciting to watch". Essentially, fans who chose this option are saying their enjoyment of the season is more dictated by having an entertaining team to watch (which couldn't be said last year...) rather than needing to see a specific number of wins.

So how did the results pan out?

What are the expectations from Mississippi State football fans on "X"?

I ran the first poll on "X". In all, 192 fans participated in the poll.

Over 50% fans on "X" selected a 6-6 season as the baseline for enjoyment in 2024. Somewhat interestingly, both the "7+ win" and "be exciting" options came in at 20.8%. A 5-7 season was the least selected option at just under 8%.

What are the expectations from Mississippi State football fans on Facebook?

I then ran the same poll on Facebook on the Maroon and White Nation page, where 164 Bulldog fans participated. And the results were a bit different than those we saw on "X".

51% of voters on Facebook said they needed to see 7+ wins to be pleased with the season. 33% said they'd need a 6-6 season while 10% chose 5-7. There was a fairly stark difference between Facebook and "X" with how fans viewed "being exciting" as good enough in 2024. Just 6% of fans on Facebook chose that option, making them 3.9x less likely to view that as a success.

What are the overall expectations from Mississippi State football fans on social media?

Overall between the two polls 356 State fans participated. For the combined results, 6-6 was the record most fans said they wanted to see, at 43% of the vote. 34% of fans said 7+ wins was necessary to deem the season as successful. 14% said that simply being exciting to watch would be enough for 2024 while 9% deemed 5-7 as the baseline expectation.

Are fan expectations reasonable for Mississippi State football in 2024?

Based on our results, the majority of Mississippi State fans say a 6-6 season, reaching bowl eligibility, is the expectation for the 2024 season. But is that reasonable?

On the one hand, making bowl games on an annual basis has become the overall program expectation for Bulldog football since 2010. Prior to last season, State had gone to 13-straight bowls. Granted, they had some helpful circumstances keep that streak alive in both 2016 and 2020, but the overall stretch still suggests that even in step-back years, the Bulldogs at least go bowling.

On the other, the reset is quite a bit more significant for Mississippi State in 2024. The roster has almost completely flipped with few, if any, proven stars, and you have both a first time head coach and first time defensive play-caller leading things. Factor in an absolutely brutal schedule, and it's understandable why the national perception suggests a rough go of things this fall.

All things considered, the safest course of action for State fans may be to go into 2024 simply looking for overall improvement in terms of the product on the field rather than saying "I need to see x number of wins to be pleased". Because there are plenty of scenarios where they team improves a good bit from last year but still misses a bowl given the schedule.

That said, six wins isn't totally unreasonable either. If Jeff Lebby can get his offense producing at a high level in year one, as he has at each of his prior stops, and the Bulldogs can play just enough defense to get by, winning the four non-conference games and finding a pair of SEC wins at home could certainly happen.

I think 6-6 is a reasonable enough goal for the season, but more than anything, I think the expectation going into the year should be to see an exciting and entertaining team take the field at Davis Wade Stadium.