Coach Aaron Gordon rings a cowbell as he is announced as the new soccer coach at Mississippi State on Tuesday. (Photo by Russ Houston, MSU University Relations, For Starkville Daily News)
Mississippi State has not been known as a great soccer destination, but Aaron Gordon thinks the program has potential.
On Tuesday, Bulldog athletic director Scott Stricklin introduced Gordon as the fourth head coach of the women's soccer team.
"Once I got here, I thought you know what we can really do something here at Mississippi State," Gordon said. "We want to be able to go toe-to-toe with anyone in the conference, (and) have a chip on our shoulder. We have nothing to lose and get after it."
MSU re-assigned former coach Neil Macdonald in late October after the squad went 9-10-1 in 2012.
Gordon has spent the last six years at Texas Tech. He was an assistant for the first five years and was promoted to associate head coach in year six.
He has also served as a club coach and coached the Atlanta Beat in the Women's United Soccer Association.
"He had college experience, before he had club experience and before that he coached at the professional level," Stricklin said. "I just thought that mix of club level, professional level experience and collegiate level experience really has benefited and showed in the success that he has had."
Gordon worked under Tom Stone at Texas Tech and came into a similar situation there. He is looking to get a Bulldog program going that has not had a lot of history.
The only winning season came in 2003 when that team finished 9-8-3. In 17 seasons, the Bulldogs have not made the NCAA Tournament or won a Southeastern Conference Tournament game.
"I met the team (Tuesday)," Gordon said. "I know they're excited and we are going to get moving. I told the team that what we do as a program is about how we write our own story. I told them in six months, where do you want to be? You need to write that down and write you're own history because you are in charge of it."
Recruiting will be a big issue for Gordon. Soccer is a recognized high school sport in Mississippi, but only five Mississippians were represented on this year's roster.
"The benefit of where Mississippi State is located puts you in a region where you are kind of close to everything," Gordon said. "We are in a day's drive from Texas. We are certainly within a half day's drive to anywhere in the southeast.
"The fact that Mississippi State participates in the SEC makes them a relevant soccer team. Knowing that you have a relevant soccer team that plays in a big conference allows you the opportunity to recruit."
The transition from the Big 12 to the SEC is something Gordon sees as a lateral move. He does see the SEC as a little deeper.
"The conferences are similar in a lot of respects," Gordon said. "Different from a travel standpoint. The SEC is now over a lot of areas, but there are a lot of shorter trips to go to. In quality of play, they are pretty similar. The SEC top to bottom is a little bit more athleticism throughout the teams."
Gordon's philosophy is pretty simple and how he wants to go about running his program.
"Winning," Gordon said. "I would like to win. Soccer is a pretty simple game. So much of it is dependent upon the players you have. You can't put a square peg in a round hole."
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