If you missed “SEC Storied: Croom” about former Mississippi State Head Coach Sylvester Croom, try to find it on again or on demand. The one hour look back at the first black head coach in SEC history was well worth the watch.
Mississippi State fans probably don’t remember Croom fondly but he did more for Bulldog football then some might like to think. Croom inherited a program about to be hit with NCAA sanctions and (this is just my opinion) a program that Croom’s predecessor, Jackie Sherrill, had checked out on before he decided to retire in 2003.
Croom had to come in and rebuild the program from the bottom up. One of the first things Croom did was to instill a new discipline to the program. In the documentary, there were several times when others talked about how MSU might have won more if Croom had looked the other way on players’ bad behavior. Croom didn’t believe in doing things that way; he wanted his players to earn a degree and be prepared to be men when they left Mississippi State.
There were times in the documentary when Croom became very emotional when talking about his time at MSU. It was obvious that he cared for his kids and wanted them to succeed not only on the field but in life. Croom also talks about his father, integration and the Civil Rights Movement in his early life. (Though, as this was only an hour-long program, don’t expect in-depth analysis on any one topic.)
State is currently 4-0 and ranked in every poll in the nation. There are 15 players on the current MSU squad that were either signed by Croom or recruited by him, including starting quarterback Tyler Russell.
Croom, now running-backs coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars, only lasted five seasons at Mississippi State, with his best season coming in 2007 when the Bulldogs won eight games and the Liberty Bowl. Even though Croom is no longer in the SEC, there are three black head coaches in the conference today.
One of the most interesting parts of the documentary is Croom talking about his time as a young coach at Alabama. Asked if Paul “Bear” Bryant was a racist, his answer is something to watch and listen to with all the thoughts on The Bear in recent years.