Mississippi State head basketball coach Rick Stansbury has certainly had his share of detractors. I’ve been critical of the guy at times myself. But I maintain that Stansbury is the right man for the job. In my opinion, no other coach could get the big time recruits into Starkville as Stansbury has proven capable of doing time and time again.
Recently, Coach Stansbury has come under fire as a result of the transfer of ‘great white hype’ Ben Hansbrough to Notre Dame. Message board aficionados cited a recent trend of non-NBA related premature departures from the MSU basketball program. A more in depth article on Bulldog basketball transfers will be forthcoming, but essentially, these occurrences are no biggie. Just look at what’s going on at heralded and beloved programs such as Georgetown.
Sports Illustrated recently polled college basketball coaches on their opinion of the most difficult jobs in each of the six BCS conferences. Evidently, the ACC was deemed to be exempt as every head coaching job is seemingly an ideal situation. Either that’s a complete crock, or a drastic statement on the inability of some ACC coaches to win at certain programs…..but that’s neither here nor there. I will respite from analyzing ACC basketball history.
As you can predict, Mississippi State came up as the most difficult place to win in the SEC. Here is the excerpt from No-Win Situations? by George Dohrmann of SI.com:
MISSISSIPPI STATE: Coaching in the SEC requires “a moral flexibility,” as one coach terms it. “Most of the schools are willing to bend the rules to help get the recruits you need to win.” Another coach says, “It’s not easy to get a recruit to go to Starkville,” but the Bulldogs’ Rick Stansbury has “proven it can be done.”
The following schools from the other four BCS conferences were mentioned: Oregon State (Pac-10), Penn State (Big 10/11), Nebraska (Big 12), and Seton Hall (Big East).
Now, I’m not necessarily offended…..wait, I am offended. Coaches are saying that Mississippi State is more difficult than Ole Miss? C’mon folks, the Rebels play at the decrepit “Tad Pad” and have 22 less wins that the Bulldogs in the past ten years…..that’s pretty much an entire season.
In comparison to the rest of the league, Ole Miss and Mississippi State are perpetually the bottom two in terms of athletic department budget. According to 2007 numbers, the Bulldogs are an SEC worst at $28 million while the Rebels come in at $33 million. The University of Florida has the highest budget at $76 million and is followed by seven schools, (Auburn, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, LSU, and South Carolina), all whose budgets more than double that of Mississippi State. So yes, athletic budget would be the most glaring factor in determining the difficulty of success.
What does this all mean? It means that Rick Stansbury is doing a helluva job. During his ten seasons as head coach of the Mississippi State basketball program, Rick Stansbury has only amassed 208 wins (the most in school history), a .647 winning percentage, 5 NCAA Tournament appearances (3 NIT), 4 SEC West titles, 1 regular season SEC championship, and 1 SEC Tournament title. During this time, only two SEC programs have more wins that Mississippi State, Florida and Kentucky.
As of April 10 of 2008, Rivals.com listed Rick Stansbury at #23 of its college basketball head coach power rankings, behind other SEC coaches Bruce Pearl (#7 – Tennessee), Trent Johnson (#15 and new at LSU), Billy Donovan (#16 – Florida), and Kevin Stalling (#20 – Vanderbilt).
Stansbury is also willing to recruit 8th graders…or “cats” (hasn’t happened to date), and probably has more flexibility than a yoga instructor in Sports Illustrated’s aforementioned prerequisite for SEC coaches.
You know what I say…..keep on keepin’ on. Now if Stansbury can only find a way to get to the Sweet Sixteen.