(Editor's Note: This is the second of two stories where Mississippi State beat writer Michael Wardlaw of The Starkville Daily News sat down with MSU athletic director Scott Stricklin to discuss the state of his athletic department.)
Mississippi State fans seem to find it a little easier to wear their maroon these days.
Each Friday, countless MSU fans join in what has become a Bulldog tradition – Maroon Friday.
Heading into the weekend, fans send pictures via Twitter from all over the globe to show they’re celebrating Maroon Friday from China, New York City, or any other town in America.
There is a sense of pride in the photos and Twitter messages that they are sharing in a bond with fellow Bulldogs. The pride doesn’t go unnoticed by MSU athletic director Scott Stricklin.
“People are so kind in telling us how proud they are of Mississippi State,” Stricklin said. “When they come up, I’m quick to point out that we’ve got over 140 coaches and support staff who work incredibly hard with our student athletes and our fans to make sure we are representing Mississippi State the right way, but we certainly feel the pride.”
There’s good reason for State fans to wear their maroon with pride with the most recent example being Fletcher Cox, Chris Stratton, and Arnett Moultrie. This trio of Bulldogs was drafted in the first round of their respective professional drafts making Mississippi State the only school in the nation to accomplish such a feat.
“That’s really special," Stricklin said. "I’m so proud of those young men for what they have achieved and how they have worked. They had talent obviously but they worked incredibly hard to develop their skill, their trade.
“It makes our coaches proud because they had a hand in it too. They worked with those young men to help them hone their talent. We want to be a place that helps develop young people and present opportunities so they can succeed.”
The success of the players have led to lengthy win streaks over Ole Miss and postseason runs across the board, which have led to individual opportunities for MSU staff. Mississippi State had four assistant coaches on staff during the 2012 season land jobs as head coaches with Lane Burroughs, Matt Hill, Gregg Franklin and Miranda Sanders all advancing their careers.
“It shows that we’ve got coaches that are doing a great job identifying talent to head up our programs,” said Stricklin. “Having coaches move on is just a fact of life in college athletics and I think it is critical that you have a mechanism in place of how to replace those people. I’m not scared of losing people because I feel good about being able to go out and replace them with quality people.”
In fact, Stricklin sees the process as a positive for State.
“That just helps you recruit new coaches because they are going to see this as a place they can go and further their career and get better,” Stricklin said. “We want to attract those type people.”
In three weeks, fall camp with begin and the 2012-13 athletic cycle will begin when coach Dan Mullen’s Bulldogs report for the opening of football practice with maroon pride on their mind.
“Our goal in everything we do is to represent Mississippi State University to the best of our ability each and every day in every thing we do,” Stricklin said. “The pride people have in our university is important and we owe it to our fans to do things the right way.”