As we have discussed many times, intercollegiate athletics is a very emotional industry. It is why all of us are so invested in this business, whether it is as administrators, coaches, student-athletes, or fans. We all have strong feelings about what happens here. My emotions today range from the highest highs to the lowest lows. While I am excited about a new opportunity, I am heartbroken to be leaving a lot of friends. Our job here is not done, but the pieces are in place to bring success to Mississippi State athletics. An aggressive athletic administrative team and a solid coaching staff will continue working hard for you. Much has been accomplished, and plans are underway to make an even bigger statement on this campus. I will observe your collective accomplishments from afar with much interest. I will always have a warm place in my heart for Mississippi State, and will cheer its athletic successes.
One of the absolute truths in college athletics is that you can not dictate the times and places in which opportunities present themselves. As I have done in the past, I review those opportunities from a myriad of different viewpoints. Center-most in those items I consider is the affect a professional decision would have on my family. There is little question that this decision is a good one for my family. It places us back in a part of the country with which we are familiar, one that returns us near family and life-long friends. But this decision was more than just family. My new position offers many of the same challenges we faced here at Mississippi State. We will attack those challenges in the same way we did here.
It is important for me to convey to you that I did not pursue this opportunity. In fact, my initial reaction was to discourage any future interest. It took several conversations, and much prayer on my part, but their overwhelming interest was apparent as time moved along. The combination of a professional challenge and a personal commitment to my family made this position very attractive to me.
It is difficult to leave Dr. Mark Keenum and his staff. I really believe the university is in great hands, and Dr. Keenum and I had a very solid working relationship. There are truly very few jobs for which I would leave Mississippi State. This just happened to be one of them.
In closing, on behalf of my wife Regina, and my boys Nick and Davis, I want to thank you for bringing us into your family. We will never forget you, nor the time we spent in Mississippi.