Rodney Hood has decided to transfer from Mississippi State University but questions still remain as to the time line of events Photo by: MSU athletics
April 12, 2012 3:28:51 PM
STARKVILLE - As The Dispatch reported earlier this week, All-SEC freshman guard Rodney Hood has informed Mississippi State University has left the program after just one season.
CBSSports.com national reporter Jeff Goodman used anonymous sources to break the story Sunday night. MSU officials quickly confirmed the news minutes later.
"It was just a long, tough year for me," Hood said in a statement. "Coach Ray will be a great asset to Mississippi State, and getting to know him last week made this decision even harder, but after much thought, I am going to ask for a release. I wish my teammates and the program nothing but the best."
Ray downplayed Hood's move, saying the decision "was made before" he was hired as the school's 19th men's basketball coach to replace Rick Stansbury, who retired after 14 seasons as head coach.
"We are disappointed in Rodney's decision," Ray said in a university release. "I was looking forward to getting a chance to develop and coach him. The Hoods were forthright and honest about where they were when I met with them, and I appreciate their honesty."
And quite frankly, it is that quote on day Hood decided to transfer that doesn't make any sense to the statements Ray made when MSU announced his hiring just eight days previous.
Here's what Ray said about Hood, the state of Mississippi's Gatorade Player of the Year two years ago, after being asked to comment on the players on the current MSU roster.
"The most important recruits are the ones on the team. Rodney Hood is a guy who is very important to our program, but I don't want to belittle the other guys. Of course we will reach out to the guys we have signed, but I want to reach out to the guys we have on our team already. I have reached out to some and received good feedback. I can answer that question better in two weeks."
In fact, it took less than two weeks for Hood to give Ray a better complexion as to what he will likely be in store for during the 2012-13 men's basketball season - his first as a Division 1 head coach.
Ray had a foundation in Hood...or so he thought.
"I want Rodney Hood to be a guy that commands double teams. I want the other team to be focused on him so he can make the other guys better."
These statements by the same 40-year-old man - Rick Ray - are clearly not parallel thinking about what was the leading scorer of the Bulldogs program.
And therefore....there's about three possibilities to why Ray would even mention Hood's name if he knew the 6-foot-8 wing player would be not be wearing maroon and white next season.
1. Ray was not given proper information that Hood and his family were looking to transfer to other schools. This leads the lack of honesty at the MSU coaching search process and specifically Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin.
"It may end up being me (talking to current players and recruits)," Stricklin said on March 15.
Seeing as how Stricklin said it was his responsibility to check in with current players and how they felt about their, using his favorite phrase, "experiences" at MSU, let's properly assume he accomplished that task and had a conversation with Rodney Hood.
2. Ray knew Hood was not likely to be on the roster next season but thought publicly saying his name would delay his decision-making process and give his staff at least a slim chance to sell him on the idea of their player development with him.
Two reasons why that argument doesn't have a lot logic to it. First, by simply delaying the foregone conclusion and mentioning Hood's name knowing he was likely transferring makes Ray look not only foolish but naive to the situation at MSU he was walking into. Even with his lack of experience as a head coach, it's not likely he would make that mistake with days to think about what he would say in front of that podium in Humphrey Coliseum. Second, this quote from Ray gives a more than likely scenario feel to the possibility he knew more transfer requests would be asked for in the near future.
"That should not hinder how you feel about the program," Ray said. "Those things will happen when there is a coaching change. I just need to make sure we don't have more attrition."
More than who? More than who was already announced (Moultrie, Sidney, DeVille Smith) or more than Ray may have also already been aware of but couldn't mention at the time (Hood)? That question may never get a direct answer because only a group of people know that for sure (the Hood family, Ray, Stricklin and maybe retired coach Rick Stansbury).
3. Somebody isn't being truthful in this time line of events. Either the decision was made to transfer months ago as Rodney Hood's father Ricky said OR...everybody in Hood's family including Rodney was waiting to see who MSU hired and if that could affect his decision to complete the transfer action from MSU. Basically, if this quote from Rodney Hood's father Ricky is completely truthful (and let's assume that it is)
"For Rodney, talk of transferring started two and half months ago. Right now, though, the situation is awkward, and we just feel it is time to move on. We want to thank Coach Stansbury and his assistants for giving Rodney a chance, and we wish the best for Coach Ray. Like I said, this has nothing to do with him. We also like to thank the fans, because they treated him like royalty. At the end of the day, it came down to a decision that was best for him."
So Hood wanted to transfer around 75 days ago, then why would he wait until eight days after Rick Ray is announced as the head coach at Mississippi State University? If the decision was made "after my hire" as is the quote from Ray directly, then why didn't Hood simply announce his intention to transfer at the end of the 2011-12 season regardless of who the coach was next season (Stansbury, Ray or anybody else MSU interviewed for the open spot over the last month)?
In the statements given by Ray, the Hood family and anybody else involved in this situation, none of those previous questions have direct answers to them.
So...to recap - Rick Ray will begin his head coaching career with a team that has all five starters gone from the 2011-12 season. The one thing we do know is Ray now has the less than attractive task of a complete rebuilding job of a program with fans used to being around 20 wins per season. No starters returning from last season, a release of a top prospect point guard this week from the 2012 signees in an improving Southeastern Conference.
The final question is simple: Is this a fair situation to ask Rick Ray to walk into after never having been a head coach at the Division 1 level.
That answer is clear: It depends on what he knew and when he knew it before he accepted the position of being the 19th head coach in Mississippi State men's basketball history.
"With my background, I don't think it will be a problem because I was given a lot of room in my previous jobs," Ray said on being a head coach. "It could be daunting for other people, but I do not think it will be a problem. I relish the opportunity. I do not believe I will be nervous at all."
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
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