"I would have walked back to Starkville."
(Laugh) That's a long walk Melvin.
"I know, but that's how enthused and excited I am to go back. To not only get a chance to go back to a place that is special to me, but to get an opportunity to work with Sylvester Croom is very exciting to me. He knows exactly what he wants to do. All the hard work has been done. All I have to do is come in, jump on the boat and start rowing."
What are things you are bringing to the Mississippi State football program?
"I think a lot of people know and trust me. And I think trust is the key. They know me and trust me and know what they are getting. I spent my early years as a coach at Greenwood High School, so I've worked with the high school coaches in Mississippi. I know them. They know me and know what kind of guy I am. I know people in Mississippi from north to south, to east and west. I know people in Alabama also. I know people from all walks of life. I have a dictionary of knowledge about people in that area. That's not just something you learn. I think I can work anywhere in the United States in coaching, but I think I can really make a difference in my homestate. I did a nice job coaching and recruiting at Texas A&M, but I really feel I can make a big-time difference in Mississippi.
What were your thoughts when Coach Croom called you about this job? And then what you thought when the deal was finalized?
"What was in my mind was the fact that I was going to work for a guy that I have observed from afar that is unique and special in a lot of ways. For him to be able to do what he has done, which is getting all of the Bulldog (fans) on one page and fighting for the same goal is special. And to be able to work for a guy like that is really special. And to be able to do what you like to do at a place that you have special feelings about. I worked at Mississippi State for seven years. I'm not sure how many times Mississippi State has won ten games in its history, but I know we did it once while I was there. We had the number 1 defense in the country while I was there. Some of the best players that I have ever coached, I coached at Mississippi State. Those years were some of my happiest times. Getting my wife back close to her sisters and other relatives and an environment that she is excited about is also important. It's a great deal for my wife and I. We are at a great place right now, Texas A&M. It's a special school and a place where I feel blessed to have worked at. But I'm going back to Mississippi State to help them win the SEC. I'm going to roll my sleeves up and help them do it. That's some of the thoughts that went through my mind when I received that call."
You are considered a great recruiter. What is your formula for successful recruiting?
"I believe in honesty and trust. I am old school. I believe you deal with parents. You get to the person who has control over that child. I think you always work with parents when you deal with kids in recruiting. Some people want to bypass the parents and go directly to the kids, but I feel you have to work with the parents. My son is not going any place as a ballplayer unless his momma is pleased with it. Trust is the number one ingredient in recruiting. I signed the number 1 player in the state of Texas last year, Martellus Bennett, and his brother, Michael Bennett. I signed him because his dad and mother trusted me. The institution was a good sale, but the main thing was his parents trusted me. I'm not a fluff guy, what you see is what you get."
You sound like Coach Croom because he's also not a fluff kind of guy.
"Sylvester Croom is an American Dream. How hard is it to sell that? Are you going to tell me that you can't sell Sylvester Croom to kids in the south; in Mississippi and Alabama. And there are some pretty good football players in Mississippi and Alabama. You can sell Sylvester Croom in Texas. Look at how many Texas players MSU signed this year."
Now that you are coming back, what would you like to tell the MSU fans?
"We are about to get it done. We are about to get it done. We are about to take over the state of Mississippi in recruiting. Bulldog fans, we are going to win at Mississippi State. We are about to fill that stadium and make it hard for teams to come to the Bulldog stadium and play. We are going to win football games. I can assure you of that. If you ask me why I know that, then check out the years I was there. We won a lot of football games."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.