Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Glee Is Gone for Bad Bulldogs

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Glee Is Gone for Bad Bulldogs

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael DiRocco, The Times-Union

It didn't take long for Sylvester Croom's historic accomplishment to wear off.

Now he's just like any other football coach with a bad team.

(Not that he's complaining -- he didn't want to be held to a different standard, anyway).

A season-opening win over Tulane had Mississippi State fans excited, but that has quickly turned to criticism in the wake of embarrassing losses to Auburn (43-14), Division I-AA Maine (9-7) and LSU (51-0).

"I don't think our fans understood where this program really was," said Croom, the Southeastern Conference's first black head football coach. "The expectation level is that we're going to be a great SEC team overnight. The reality is, we're a work in progress."

That 28-7 win over Tulane on ESPN2 on Sept. 4 fueled the fans' hope that the Bulldogs were going to be better than first believed. Being outscored 103-21 since then has sobered the fans up -- and no one is ever in a great mood in those first few moments after the buzz wears off.

They've been calling and writing.

Croom's response has been to forget about a quick fix. He's not going to jeopardize the 2006 season just so the Bulldogs can threaten .500 this season. Just ride the hangover out and you'll eventually feel better.

"We have a plan," Croom said. "I have to be patient. We will not deviate from that plan regardless of the expectations. We're trying to build a program that will last over time." So instead of cowbells, fans should start smuggling in aspirin.

FAMILY ADVICE

When LSU coach Nick Saban recently returned to West Virginia to attend his grandfather's funeral, he was accosted by his sister. Not for not returning to West Virginia more often to see his family, or for not calling enough.

For not playing running back Alley Broussard more.

"I hadn't been back home to see everybody in two years, and my sister -- who I haven't seen in a year -- walks up, and she doesn't say, 'How are you doing?' " Saban said. "She says, 'When are you going to get the ball to No. 22 [Broussard]?' "

Apparently getting football advice at a funeral moved Saban, because he gave Broussard 13 carries last Saturday against Mississippi State. Broussard responded with 73 yards and three touchdowns. He may even start on Saturday against Georgia, because last week's starter, Justin Vincent, didn't play much after fumbling inside the 5-yard line.

Broussard had five carries in the season opener against Oregon State, none against Arkansas State, but had 10 carries for 84 yards against Auburn. He outrushed Auburn's Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown in that game.

"He told me he got abused by his sister for not playing [me]," Broussard said. "Maybe that's why he put me in."

SAME OLD VANDERBILT

The optimism in Nashville has quickly given away to acceptance. Not much has changed when it comes to Vanderbilt football.

Last Saturday's loss to Navy dropped the Commodores to 0-3, and pretty much doused those preseason thoughts that the 2004 Commodores were going to contend for a bowl game. With games against Georgia, LSU, Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee remaining, Vandy is staring at another two- or three-win season. …

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