"Honestly, I was proud that when we started the search for a new coach, we set a criteria and didn't hire him just because he was a minority. We hired him because he was the best man for the job.
"It is also a good day for me because I was around to see this happen for the SEC and for Mississippi State University. It is not something that I have to look in the books to read about. I was here and was on the committee that helped select him.
"And after seeing him and hearing him talk, I am glad to know that we have a quality person who will come in here and turn the Mississippi State (football) program around. I think, from hearing him talk, he will come in here and create an atmosphere that is going to be dynamic for our football program."
When this first started, what was it like to be on the coaching advisory committee?
"At first, I was kind of scared when they put my name out that I was on the committee. But, honestly, I got a lot of genuine emails from people saying that they gave all the trust to us. There were 10 people on the committee and they felt we were selected thoroughly and they said they felt like we could make a wise decision. Almost all of the emails said they would be praying for us. I think if those people came to this press conference they would know we got the best man for the job."
As a Mississippi State student, do you take great pride in the fact that Mississippi State was the first SEC school to hire an African-American as its head football coach?
"Number one, I take pride in Mississippi State because they have always prided themselves on being the people's university. Nothing stops us from doing what we want to do on this campus. When Mississippi State stepped out and took this great step by hiring this minority coach based on the criteria we set, that said that Mississippi State is all about family, all about the people and that it doesn't matter what race you are, what color you are, what religion you are. As long as you come here and do the job to keep our family heritage and history going at Mississippi State, then you are accepted here."
What, as students, can you guys do to help Coach Croom succeed? He is coming into a program that has won just 8 games the last three years and is being investigated by the NCAA.
"When I talked to Coach (Croom) today, I told him from the student government standpoint, we aren't sure we can do anything for him right now, but I assured him that when he needed student support behind him, the student government would go whatever mile it had to and I told him that I would personally do everything that I could."
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.