Croom: Doing It My Way

Mississippi State's head football coach talks about his program that is trying to become a winner.

Hoover, Ala.--Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom says despite his lack of results when judging his program by wins and losses on Saturdays, he has no concerns about his job status in Starkville.

Auburn's SEC opening opponent in game three on Sept. 15th at Jordan-Hare Stadium is coming off a 3-9 season that included just one victory in SEC play. Overall, Croom's record in Starkville is 9-25.

He says that going into the situation at MSU, considering the amount of rebuilding necessary plus dealing with the effect of probation, he told the leaders at State up front that the program wasn't going to be rebuilt quickly.

"If you are asking me whether I'm worried about if I am going to get fired, no," he says. "I've coached for 30 years. I have never had to go look for a job. I have always had one. The good Lord has blessed me with one.

"I know we're doing things the right way," Croom adds. "I know our plan is on track, but at any point during my tenure, or, as coaches, we always know that's a possibility, but if that should ever come about I am quite thankful to have had the opportunity to do it my way.

"I am very fortunate Mississippi State, my athletic director Larry Templeton, our president Dr. Foglesong, our past president, Dr. Lee, have allowed me to do things exactly the way I believe in. So, regardless of the outcome, I'm far more fortunate than a lot of guys in this business. I got to do everything exactly the way I want to do it."

"We were basically starting all over again," says Croom, who notes that going to Starkville he realized that there would be players in the program who weren't going to like the changes he made and there was going to be significant attrition.

"It has not been easy for me because I want to win right now, too," Croom says. "I have been used to everywhere I have been competing for championships. I am extremely proud of the players who have come to our program. A lot of them, rather than choosing to go somewhere else and riding on the coattails of somebody else's success, they chose to come here and be a part of building something."

Other points Croom made on Thursday:

*The Bulldog coach says he is expecting major improvement offensively, especially on the line of scrimmage. "We had 22 sacks the first six ball games, we only had six in the last six...We expect to be a very productive team on the offensive side of the football."

*Croom says last year he asked his players to get games into the fourth quarter with a chance to win. He says this year he is going to ask them to make the big plays down the stretch to turn close losses into victories.

*The coach says last year's opening night loss to South Carolina damaged his team's confidence. He says that won't happen this year. "Our team believes in itself now. Regardless of the outcome of the LSU game (the opener), we are going to be a good team this season."

*Croom says he is expecting a productive year from quarterback Michael Henig from Montgomery, who he praises for his leadership. He says Henig has worked hard in the weight room to add enough size to make him less injury-prone. Henig, who got up to 208 pounds earlier this year, actually got too big, should be leaner and more mobile by the season opener.

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