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MSU’s Stricklin Admits What We Already Knew – Cash Was A Factor In Hiring Ray

Regardless of how you spin it — “We’ve got a lot of private dollars!” — Mississippi State traditionally has the smallest athletics budget in the cash-happy SEC.  Yes, smaller than Vanderbilt’s.

So while many State fans thought their school had enough history to interest a “name” coach — it does — a tough location to recruit to and money were also big factors.

Mississippi State AD Scott Stricklin new this.  The idea that State went after up-and-comers, first-year coaches and assistants that most fans had never heard of simply because Stricklin enjoys rolling the dice is ridiculous.  If Stricklin could have landed Bill Self instead of Rick Ray, you can bet he would have.

Former MSU AD Greg Byrne — who Stricklin consulted with during his most recent search — told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal the following:

“You’re not going to outspend Kentucky for a basketball coach.  And at the same time, too, you need to find somebody that fits well at Mississippi State.”

We all may find that Ray is the perfect fit for Starkville.  But please stop with the emails suggesting Stricklin and State chose Ray because they were looking for “upside.”  They were looking for a man with upside… who they could afford.  It’s no coincidence that Ray will make about half-a-million bucks less than Stansbury did per year.

There’s nothing wrong with admitting that.

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Bitter Much? Big 12 Coaches Snub Media Coach Of The Year Haith At Mizzou

Frank Haith was not exactly the first choice of Missouri fans when he took over the program from Mike Anderson.  Now he’s not the first — or even second choice — of the Big 12′s coaches for Coach of the Year honors.

Doing what Mizzou fans will tell you Anderson couldn’t do, Haith has led the Tigers to a 27-4 record, a Top 10 finish and the most wins in school history.  That was good enough to be named the Associated Press’ Big 12 Coach of the Year.

But the vote among Big 12 coaches?  Uh, no.  Earlier this week they split their Coach of the Year award between Bill Self of Kansas and Fred Hoiberg of Iowa State.  That’s quite a snub for a man who’s had to use just a seven-player rotation all season long.  You don’t think any of that had to do with lasting bitterness over Mizzou leaving the Big 12, do you?  Surely the Big 12 wouldn’t intentionally not give its award to a man who’ll be in another league next year, would it?

Oh, well.  See you in the SEC, Coach.

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Kansas’ Self Sounds Like He Wants To Kill The Missouri Rivalry

If Missouri makes its move from the Big 12 to the SEC, don’t count on Kansas coach Bill Self to fight for the survival of the KU-MU basketball rivalry:

“I don’t feel any obligation to play Missouri.  The Missouri fans want us to play, but I’m not sure Kansas fans care.  If they’re not in our league then we should do what’s best for us.  If it’s to play them in the Sprint Center, then so be it.  But I’m not sure that will be the case.”

We’ve already seen this type of punitive response from Texas.  The Longhorns have informed Texas A&M that they’re all booked up schedule-wise so the UT-A&M rivalry will go bye-bye — at least for a while — when the Aggies join the SEC.  (Kudos to A&M for being willing to play an SEC schedule and Texas on a yearly basis.)

The silliness of such talk from Texas and Kansas only makes you respect the administrators at Florida and Florida State, Georgia and Georgia Tech, Kentucky and Louisville, and South Carolina and Clemson for keeping those rivalries going despite the fact those teams reside in separate conferences.

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Calipari Visited Prospect Lacey Last Night

John Calipari was in Alabama yesterday to visit that state’s reigning Mr. Basketball selection — Trevor Lacey.  Lacey led his high school to its third state championship in four years this past season.

Lacey is deciding between Kentucky, Auburn, Alabama — where he took in the A-Day festivities on Saturday — and Kansas.  Jayhawks coach Bill Self is expected to visit Lacey today.

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A Pothole On Barhart’s Potential Road To Kansas

As Kentucky athletic director combats rumors that he might be a candidate for the Kansas’ AD job, a contact in Lexington made a pretty good point to me today.

Kansas’ biggest sport is obviously basketball.  Bill Self is KU’s highly successful hoops coach and it’s not too far-fetched to think that he might have some say in KU’s choice of a new athletic director.

Well, you know who is buddies with Self and served as his assistant at one point?  A fellow by the name of Billy Clyde Gillispie.

Admittedly, there’s a lot of air in that mix, but it’s something to keep in mind nonetheless.  Would Self give his okay to the guy who whacked Gillispie?

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