For success during 10 seasons as men’s head basketball coach at Mississippi State University, Rick Stansbury has been awarded a raise and a contract extension through 2011-2012. Stansbury’s new $1.2 million salary is composed of a $225,000 base salary and a supplement from the Bulldog Foundation, making him the 4th highest paid basketball coach in the SEC. So why are many Bulldog fans showing Rick Stansbury no love?
Here are some of the initial opinions expressed in the comments section of the Clarion-Ledger’s July 3rd story on Stansbury’s new contract:
“Waste of money”
“Earn your money Stainsberry and make some noise in the NCAA tourney. We’ve had enough of your 2nd round defeats!!!”
“Good recruiter.. Bad coach”
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Guaranteed to be a pretty decent, better than average team through 2011-2012. Damn Scamsbury.”
Sure there were positive comments to follow, but from experience, the above opinions are indicative of the general negativity emitted from many Mississippi State fans. A great job is not good enough. Have people been spoiled by success, or are they justifiably unsatisfied from lack of achievement?
Simply put, Stansbury has brought consistency to a program with, at best, sporadic tradition, essentially spawning winning out of a purported “no-win” situation. Sure Coach Stansbury has had difficulties with advancing in post season play, never making it past the 2nd round of the big dance. Of course, I’ve been frustrated with poor free-throw coaching, lack of offensive X and O prowess, and the inability to coax maturity out of some players. And perhaps Rick’s interest in the academic success of his players has the MSU basketball program tippy-toeing along the sanction line, a single point over the NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) threshold of 900. After all, Stansbury was quoted, “We don’t talk to teachers when we’re recruiting kids, everyone does it differently,” in a New York Times article investigating Philadelphia’s Lutheran Christian Academy, a ‘diploma mill’ attended by Jamont Gordon and former Bulldog, Vernon Goodridge, which has since been put on an NCAA ‘unacceptable’ list.
But hey, what’s the price of relevancy? Shall we live in a fatalistic world where “everybody’s doing it” allows us to root with a clear conscience? Large corporations consistently teeter between black and white, always looking for a loophole to give them a competitive edge. That’s business, and until the NCAA changes it’s rules otherwise, it’s member organizations will continue to act as such. In that SI.com article outlining ‘no-win’ situations in college basketball, an anonymous coach is quoted in admitting that “coaching in the SEC requires ‘a moral flexibility.'” What that coach forgot to admit is that lax moral values transcend conferences, sports, players, and even fans. I don’t proclaim to have any solutions, but I do know that the NCAA is ultimately responsible.
I’m digressing from the matter at hand. Point is, Rick Stansbury is not unlike many other college basketball coaches, especially those in the SEC……except for the fact that he gets big time players to come play in Starkville, Mississippi. How soon we forget the days when the best players in Mississippi were consistently heading out of state. When is the last time you heard that complaint?
It’s natural to desire that success be built on top of success. Bulldog fans want their basketball team to live up to its potential, I have the same hopes. But my mantra is that things could always be worse; Bulldogs fans don’t know how good they have it. Congratulations to Coach Stansbury on receiving a well deserved new contract, his track record speaks for itself. With recent defections, next season ain’t gonna be easy. Sure we will hear rhetoric from Rick about having a young team, but the task will be daunting nonetheless. Here’s to program building, getting through the rough patches, and the high capability for success.