One bad season shouldn't undercut all the success Rick Stansbury has had at Mississippi State. That's the opinion of athletics director Scott Stricklin, who spoke with me Thursday evening about Stansbury, the season and the state of the program.
The two had their regular season-ending meeting on Monday, and it revolved around how the Bulldogs can return to prominence and – both on and off the court – respectability.
"Rick has a good plan that he's come up with, and he's got a good group coming back and he's recruited really well," Stricklin said. "We're moving into the new Mize Pavilion, and I think we've got a chance to be really good next year."
Asked how Stansbury handled the off-court stuff, Stricklin danced around the question a little.
"We haven't had very many of those in the time Rick's been here. I think this year was kind of an anomaly. He and I discussed it – I'm not going to discuss it publicly – obviously there were a lot of things, situations that we didn't want to be in. We've tried to learn from those and move forward and make it better."
Stansbury's contract will not, for now, be extended to four years, which is the maximum allowed under state law. That's notable simply because under Greg Byrne, MSU made it a habit to keep its coaches on four-year deals, and it seemed Stricklin would continue that practice. Football coach Dan Mullen, for example, recently received an extension and a hefty raise.
Stricklin sounded like there wasn't as urgent a need to follow that procedure, so Stansbury's deal is still set to run through 2014. He makes about $1.3 million a year.
"I'm comfortable with where we are right now. I think we're in a good spot right now," Stricklin said.
The AD said he's heard the negative comments about Stansbury – in my own interactions, I've heard many fans want him gone – but didn't seem overly concerned about the discontent.
"Everybody has an opinion that needs to be heard; we listen to everybody. Everybody on our staff has a job to make Mississippi State as good as it can be, and so our decisions are based on what's going to make Mississippi State the best. Right now our focus is on trying to build some momentum heading into next season, so that 2012 is a great basketball year."
Stricklin later added, "You can't look at the win-loss record and championships and that kind a thing and not come away feeling like you've got a guy who's been very successful. I think we've got a chance to continue that and be more successful."