Team preview: Mississippi State

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(All information as of July 1, 2005)


Last season first-year coach Sylvester Croom instilled discipline and garnered respect for Mississippi State, but he couldn't snap his fingers and turn around a program that had gone 8-27 in its previous three seasons. Sure, Croom led the Bulldogs to a stunning upset of Florida in Starkville, but the Bulldogs lost to Maine, UAB and were dominated in the regular-season finale at Mississippi.

As Croom begins his second season, his program and his team are still a work in progress. Players continue to drop off the roster. Fourteen of them would've been suiting up this fall if they hadn't left, graduated early, transferred or been suspended. Inevitably, they will be replaced by players Croom recruits and signs. As he aims to remake the MSU program, he's not unhappy with the attrition.

"It's be good, or be gone," Croom told the Clarion-Ledger newspaper.

Gone, most notably, are former starters Richard Burch, a suspended tackle who was charged with selling marijuana, and Darren Williams, a safety who will transfer after an unspecified violation of team rules. After three trying seasons under former coach Jackie Sherrill and one under Croom, the hope is that as the roster turns over, as the skill levels improve, and as the mindsets change, the environment will be different as well.