With the 41-6 loss to 7th ranked LSU Saturday night, Mississippi State has now lost their 9th straight game, the third longest losing streak in MSU history.
Despite the losing streak, MSU fans have continued to show their support of these players and coaches by attending the first two home games in droves (52,000+ and 45,800+). However, frustration seems to have set in with the most die-hard of the Bulldog loyalists as evidenced by the mass exodus during the LSU loss. Surprisingly, there were few boo birds. That one simple fact almost makes me believe empathy is starting to set in as well.
While I love MSU as much as any other Bulldog fan and feel we should continue to attend games and support this team every way we can, I can understand how those who left felt. It is tough to deal with losing, especially when your expectations have risen so high after the wonderful years from 1997-2000 when MSU went 33-15 overall and 20-12 in the SEC, won a Western Division title, played Tennessee, the eventual national champion, a close game in the SEC Championship Game and went to three bowl games, including the Cotton Bowl, a New Year's Day bowl.
It looked like this was finally MSU's chance to move from being considered one of the SEC cellar dwellers to one of the better programs in the conference.
Instead, what MSU fans got were two three-win seasons and a third season that has started off with a four-game tailspin. Two more losses and this MSU team ties the record for longest losing streak in MSU history, a history that goes all the way back to the year 1895. Hard to believe but true.
It's hard, folks, to deal with that fact, especially when you know there is enough talent - players and coaches - on this team to have won at least two of the first four games.
You want to believe in Coach Sherrill and his staff. You want to believe in the players, especially when you consider you have six former high school Parade All-Americans on the current roster, three on each side of the ball. However, things don't appear to be improving on the field, at least not fast enough to suit most fans. Coach Sherrill and his staff have simplified the defense and moved players around trying to put them in the best position to win. However, nothing seems to be working.
Are there other options that can be used? Coach Sherrill, in his post-game press conference after the LSU loss, seems to think that all the team needs to do is play more as a team. The problem is how do you accomplish that? Is it something that will happen as the players gain experience playing in the new offensive and defensive schemes or is it something else, such as youngsters becoming veterans or the coaches doing a better job?
I wish I had the answer, but I don't. About all I do know is not only are the options running out, but time is running out for this team (and the coaches), especially when you consider after the next two teams that MSU faces (Vanderbilt and Memphis), Auburn, Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas and Ole Miss await. Of those six games, four are on the road. Not a pretty picture to say the least.
While MSU football is dealing with tough times, MSU basketball appears to be in solid shape, mainly due to the hard work of current head coach Rick Stansbury and an excellent staff that includes Robert Kirby, Phil Cunningham and Sam Weaver.
I'll go more into the upcoming season during the coming weeks, but here's some food for thought about the many accomplishments of MSU basketball during the Rick Stansbury era.
Just food for thought as you await basketball season.
Have a great Bulldog week!
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.