To My Beloved Bulldogs, Thank You

When I returned to Mississippi State, it was with a plan to become the best sports broadcaster in the business. And I immediately set out to accomplish that goal. I contacted a few friends that I knew during my time in Starkville back in the 1980's. They told me to contact the media relations department which I did. I asked the right folks and before you knew it I was given a shot.

It was fortunate for me that it was fall and that meant football. This is where I first encountered Sylvester Croom while participating on the coach's show.

I knew from the moment that I first met him that he had a plan. I cannot explain it, but I knew he was going to make a difference at MSU. I watched week after week as the fans, students, and alumni constantly quizzed him on his plans to turn this team around and why we were not winning. All through that he kept his head held high but also down as if facing a ferrous blowing wind. He knew he had a plan and that the plan would create a turnaround. His job was not to convince those that may have doubted, but to impact this football program.

I also spent time in the media pressbox at Davis Wade Stadium. Perched high above the field of play, I could see the anguish on the field from the spectators as the losses mounted.

But through those losses I knew that failure is a wonderful teacher. If you truly desire for something failure is not failure, but a tool to help us change course and find a way over, under or around the wall that stands in the way of achieving excellence.

As I come to the end of my time here at MSU, it is with great pride that I call myself a Bulldog. I recall thinking that we - the MSU family - not only wanted but needed that "something" that every other team in the SEC possessed. Now, we have "it", and with much sincerity I say thanks to the men that comprise this 2007 MSU football team.

I thank you for taking the time to be patient with this fan who picked your brain trying to find out what makes a man want to get hit weekend after weekend. Thanks for taking the time after practice, when I knew you must have been exhausted, to sit down and share with me your thoughts about what helped mold you into the survivors that you are. And thanks for taking the time to put it all on the line every Saturday, win or lose. Thanks for listening to the berating while sitting in class, and taking it so graciously. Thanks for believing in coaches who said they had a plan to change the program. And, lastly, thanks for believing in a coach who said that he had a plan that not only would make you a better football team, but a better group of men as well.

As I spoke one-on-on with many of you, I could not only see it in your eyes and hear it in your voices, but I could feel it coming from your hearts that you wanted to win. This team was different from year's past. It is the same men playing, but with a different fervor and attitude.

To the seniors who have traveled a long journey of difficulties, respect is the word that I use to describe what I feel for you and your efforts. You leave behind a legacy that taught us all that if you keep "the main thing, the main thing" good will prevail. While the path to greatness is paved with many knee scraping moments, those moments teach us to get back up and try it again. And each one of you kept getting back up and trying again. And your efforts have set the foundation for the greatness to come.

This journey for you has been so much more than about football. I hope that you were taught that while perfection is unattainable, excellence is expected. Thank you for your excellence.

There is one line from a book called Good to Great that I believe summarizes this journey. No technology can instill the simple inner belief that leaving unrealized potential on the table - "Letting something remain good when it can become great is a sin."

To my beloved Bulldogs, thank you for making the difficult journey from Good to Great.


Melissa Tomlinson is one of the hosts of Bully BarkLine, the radio show that is exclusively about Mississippi State athletics that airs every Tuesday night 7-8 at The Little Dooey in Starkville.

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