"We Want Somebody To Take It To Higher Level"

Saturday morning, Mississippi State confirmed the resignation of Bulldog football Coach Sylvester Croom. In the afternoon athletics director Greg Byrne met with media members to discuss the resignation as well as the search for Croom's successor. Byrne also said that after today, he will not discuss the search until the new football coach is hired.

Greg Byrne: "As I said throughout the season, we would sit down and talk at the end of the season. First of all I want to thank Coach Croom for his leadership and his service to Mississippi State. He has left Mississippi State football in a much better position than when he took over the program. And his leadership and his character certainly is unmatched and we appreciate that."

"Coach and I talked throughout the season, but we would have our evaluation conversation at the end of the season. We talked about a lot of different things this morning, including his resignation. And at the end of the conversation he decided to offer his resignation. And we accepted that."

"There were details in his contract that offered a buyout if his contract ended early, and we did honor that commitment that we made in his contract. We're also going to honor the assistant's contracts as they are written."

"We will start a national search immediately for a new football coach at Mississippi State. We don't have any timeframes, we just want to find the right person whoever that is and however long it takes, obviously being concerned about recruiting and about the stability of our program. Rockey Felker is going to take over day-to-day operations of our football program during the transition. We have all our assistants under contract and we have told them we expect them to still be active representing Mississippi State in a first-class manner. We're lucky to have Rockey with his head coaching experience, his understanding of the state of Mississippi and his contacts there to help us with the transition. He will obviously be very active."

I just took the NCAA compliance test, and am now a certified recruiter and will get in contact with our recruits starting tomorrow when I'm able to make phone calls. It's important that they know we will honor the commitments they have already made to Mississippi State."

"As far as what we'll be looking for in a head coach, we're looking for somebody with high energy, a passion for recruiting, a strong work ethic. It would be nice if they had an understanding of the SEC, although experience in the SEC is not a prerequisite. And we want somebody who has the intensity and the energy level to continue what Coach Croom has built on and take it to a higher level for us."

Q: Yesterday Coach Croom said he was going to meet Monday, did you feel you needed to go ahead and meet? "Well, he and I talked last night. And we agreed last night we would get together this morning. That's how that transpired. But we talked after the game last night."

Q: Will the buyout be honored in full? "Yes."

Q: What are the terms of that? "Just that we're honoring what was in the contract."

Q: To be paid out at once or over time? "We've come to an agreement on that that both sides are comfortable with."

Q: Which is? "We've come to an agreement on that that both sides are comfortable with."

Q: Did you talk at all about making changes to the staff? "We talked about a lot of different ideas, and to his credit he was open to different ideas. And through that conversation we came to the resolution that we did."

Q: How long was the meeting? "I don't know. It was an efficient meeting, it didn't go too long."

Q: Where was it? "It was here this morning in my office."

Q: Did he express his mindset at that point? "Yeah, he did."

Q: Can you share any of that? "He was first-class, as we'd expect him to be. It was a very cordial and professional conversation."

Q: Have you talked to Mark Keenum? "Yes, Dr. Ruby and I both have been in contact with Dr. Keenum. And both have been very supportive."

Q: Will you use a search firm? "Yes, we will."

Q: Chuck Neinas? "We have not come to a formal agreement yet for the search firm."

Q: What role did any did yesterday play in what transpired? "I think a lot of us have talked before, you can't make emotional decisions in what you do. What we talked about was this season and then we talked about the five-year body of work, where we are with the program."

Q: Did Houston Nutt's immediate success play a part? "No."

Q: Did you go to Oxford with an agreement things would go forward with him coming back? "We talked regularly during the season. And we had decided we would have our end-of-year discussion immediately, whenever that was after the season. And we had discussed some concepts beforehand. But that's all that it was."

Q: Did you see (ESPN commentator) Mark May talking about the decision to leave? "I did. I thought Mark was fair in his comments."

Q: Did you fear any public backlash for this? "Our decision-making was what we thought would be best for Mississippi State University and our football program and our athletic department. And that's what we had to make our decision based off of. We certainly are concerned about the way Mississippi State is viewed, at the same time too though we have to do what is right for the University."

Q: Can you clarify was this a situation where you talked to Sylvester and said we need to make changes, or he decided on his own? "It was his decision to announce this today."

Q: Did you make any requests he did not want to meet? (Byrne shakes his head no)

Q: Will the search similar to the baseball search with a small group people helping? "It will be very small in nature, and we will keep Dr. Ruby and Dr. Keenum apprised."

Q: Will you provide a search firm with a list of names, and they provide you with a list? "Yes."

Q: Will you cut the list down to, like, five names or some number? "Too early to tell."

Q: How will the experience with the Cohen hiring help you? "Well, I think any time you go out and gain experience in whatever you're doing in your professional or personal life helps you. Every day I wake up wanting to continue to improve in what we do."

Q: Is there a deadline for having a new coach? "No"

Q: Did Coach mention any outside pressures in his decision, if it was fans' displeasure or anything? "Coach Croom I think was aware of the pressure of the position. But any coach is going to be."

Q: Did you get any sense of his future plans? "No, we didn't talk about that."

Q: Depending on the candidates, could this take a week or months? "I don't know about time. We'll take whatever time we need to find the right coach for Mississippi State."

Q: Based on past searches how long should it last? "They can last a day. I've seen them last over a month."

Q: Going into this morning did you expect Croom to be the coach next year? "I think we were all concerned about different issues. And through our conversations he felt that this was the right decision for Mississippi State."

Q: Did you forsee any financial issues if Coach Croom stayed? "As you evaluate your program there are several different areas that you look at. You obviously look at performance on the field, whatever that may be. You look at socially and academically in your program, how they are doing. And then third you look at for your revenue sports the financial impact for your program."

Q: Will it be tough to meet the financial obligations? "We feel comfortable where we are financially as a department to fulfill our contractual responsibilities."

Q: The team has a 2:00 meeting Monday, will Coach be a part of that? "I'm not 100% sure on his plans for that right now, but we will have that team meeting."

Q: If he wants to come meet? "Absolutely."

Q: Athletic directors always say they have a list, even when things are going great? "Yeha, the old saying I've always heard is you never know when you coach is going to be hit by a bus. So you want to be prepared for any situation."

Q: How would you describe your relationship with Coach Croom? "We had a very good relationship. And I certainly hope that will continue."

Q: Is it any tougher for you not having been an athletic director for very long? "I think we're ready to go do our job and do what we need to do here."

Q: You mentioned competing for championships and bowl games. What do you see that makes you believe the next coach can do that next year? "I think we have a good nucleus of kids here who have won games in this league and can continue to build on that. There is a very good foundation that has been laid, and we need to continue to build on that and grow into a regular bowl team."

"I'm not going to talk any more during the search. The next time I talk, it will be when we hire a coach."

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