February 1, 2009
Danny P Smith -
This time there was no fanfare with hundreds of fans and media present.
When Sylvester Croom became the first African-American head football coach in Mississippi State and Southeastern Conference history on Dec. 1, 2003, there was an overflow crowd to meet him at the Leo Seal M-Club Center.
The St. Louis Rams chose to keep it simple this time
Croom said there was no press conference scheduled or any grand announcement planned for him about becoming the running backs coach of the Rams.
"They just told me what day I needed to be at work," Croom said.
Elthough the hire is yet to be made official by the Rams, Croom is anxious to get started and renew relationships he has built in more than 30 years in the coaching profession with 17 being in the NFL.
"I''m really impressed with (St. Louis) coach (Steve) Spagnuolo, the coordinators (Ken Flajole and Pat Shurmur), and I already know the general manager, Billy Devaney, because I worked with him in San Diego," Croom said. "I''m happy to be working with him again. I''ve had relationships with a lot of people on the staff and have known during my career in the NFL and in college."
Croom has had plenty of experience as running backs coach in the NFL, serving in that capacity with the Green Bay Packers from 2001-03, San Diego Chargers from 1992-96, Indianapolis Colts in 1991, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1987-90. He was the offensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions from 1997-2000.
Prior to starting his pro career, Croom was an assistant on the staff of his alma mater Alabama from 1976-1986.
It was Croom''s hope he would have another opportunity to coach at some level after resigning at Mississippi State on Nov. 29, 2008.
"I''m excited to be coaching again," Croom said. "It''s something where if the opportunity ever presented itself to coach in college again, I would strongly consider that, but this is my next choice. It''s something I was very comfortable with and very happy with. I''m glad to have a chance to do it again."
Croom will be working with running back Steven Jackson, who became only the second player in Rams'' history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in four consecutive seasons.
Croom will also be reunited with Quinton Culberson, who was a linebacker at Mississippi State during Croom''s tenure from 2003-06.
It was the way the stretch run of the season was handled in St. Louis that attracted Croom to the team the most.
"I''m excited about being a part of that organization," Croom said. "I watched them at the end of the season some and I thought, despite their record, the players were still playing hard.
"I know it''s hard in the NFL to finish the season strong and play hard when you are not in the playoff picture. I thought they did that. I think that says a lot for the character of the players on that football team."
Croom did not experience a great deal of success as the coach of the Bulldogs, only compiling a 21-38 record in five years. He did take MSU to the Liberty Bowl during the 2007 season and was chosen Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year.
"I felt like more of an administrator than a coach with all of the things I had to do outside of football, but I enjoyed it because I know we had an impact on the lives of players and know we brought respectability back to the program," Croom said. "We laid a solid foundation for the next staff to move forward. There''s far more talent in the program now than when we started so we left the program in better shape than we found it. I''m very pleased with that and I look forward to them continuing to build."