MSU Winning Tradition

Dan Mullen after the Florida game: "This was not an upset.  Our team expected to win the game." 

Creating a Winning Football Tradition at Mississippi State University


Why is it that Mississippi State University has not been able to create a winning football tradition?  Every MSU fan has an answer and your answer might well touch on coaching, recruiting, facilities, budget, fan support or other equally important aspects of a winning tradition.  However this article is not about why we have failed, but how we can succeed.


For the past two football seasons I have lived in Birmingham, Alabama, and no one can argue that Alabama does not have a winning football tradition.  Our neighbors are Alabama and Auburn fans as are fellow church members and almost everyone with whom we come in contact.  The newspapers, television stations and sports talk on local radio are consumed by Alabama and Auburn football.  While both schools have had ups and downs, they definitely have winning traditions.


It is difficult to put into words the importance of expectations.  Alabama fans expect to win.  They expect to win every single game they play whether home or away.  From this simple concept so much of a winning tradition arises.  Fans, coaches, players, administrators, students, faculty and anyone with an interest in Alabama football expect to win.


An amazing amount of action flows from expectations.  Because they expect to win, Alabama fans buy tickets and fill their stadium to give the home team an advantage.  Because they expect to win fans travel to away games to take away some of the home field advantage of their opponents.  Understand that this level of expectation rises above hope or want.  They expect to win the same way they expect the sun to rise tomorrow. 


Players and coaches expect to win and they are surrounded by people who expect them to win.  There is no escape from this expectation.  During a tough football game the coaches and players know what everyone expects.  They also are aware of the level of expectation during every practice and off season work out.  I think there is a very good argument to be made that this level of expectation makes better players, better coaches and better fans. 


But, you may think, it is easy to have great expectations when you have a winning tradition.  I suggest that in order for Mississippi State University to build such a tradition we must begin with the expectation of winning.  It is not the expectation of a miracle, but a rational expectation based upon a realistic look at our University and what we have to offer.


Our new head coach brings energy, enthusiasm, and a record of success.  Our new athletic director brings new ideas and a willingness to make change when needed.  Our new President also will bring youth and new energy to Mississippi State.  We are arriving at a confluence of events that make a cultural sea change possible. 

There’s an old saying to the effect that a certain percentage of any group always fails to get the message.  In this age of cell phones, e-mail and text messages not to mention the more traditional methods of communication, let’s make sure every MSU fan gets the message.


If, in your heart of hearts, you are not able to reach the appropriate level of expectations then fake it and only you will know.  Act and talk like you have winning expectations.  Buy those seasons tickets and make a contribution to the Bulldog Club.  Fill your small portion of the stadium and expect others to do their part.  From these positive actions will come positive expectations. 


I expect our stadium to sell out for every home game.  I expect our football team to be exciting and to win.  I expect that together we can permanently alter the perception of MSU football as less than first-rate.  I expect our fans, coaches and players will work together to forever make MSU football a symbol of excellence.


Please join with me in expecting success for our MSU football program.  


Jack Kean

MSU ‘71

December 2008


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