Mississippi State's coach Rick Stansbury and the university evidently didn't feel the first-round exit from the NIT was good enough. Jeff Goodman of CBS sports is reporting that the two will part ways on Thursday afternoon.
Mississippi St coach Rick Stansbury will "retire" this afternoon, sources told CBSSports.com. Stansbury being obviously forced out.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanCBS) March 15, 2012
Stansbury has been the coach for the Bulldogs since the 1998-99 season. He's compiled a 293-165 career record, has two SEC tournament championships (2002, 2009), one regular-season championship (2004) and five Western Division championships (2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2010).
In total, he led the team to six NCAA tournament appearances, but he never made it out of the second round. Mississippi State has also not made the tournament since 2009.
What it means
Generally when things like this happen, it means that the school is looking for a jolt. As Goodman pointed out, this "retirement" can be interpreted as a mutual decision at best and more likely a case of Stansbury being asked to take a graceful exit.
The program has been stuck for the last few years, especially in conference play. Since going 12-4 in SEC play in the 2007-08 season, the Bulldogs have compiled nothing but 9-7 or 8-8 records, which are hardly indicative of a progressing program.
Any specific names are purely speculative at this point, but the kind of people that fans of the Bulldogs should be looking to are younger coaches of some of the better small-conference schools.
It is hard to imagine they'll land the kind of big names that may be out there are season's end, but an up-and-comer is a distinct possibility.
We'll have to see how the NCAA tournament and even the NIT develop to see what names catch fire and become available.