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Monday, March 22, 2010
Byrne will be missed at Mississippi State

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

The news that Mississippi State athletic director Greg Byrne is leaving for the same job at Arizona shouldn't be all that surprising, given his Pac-10 ties.

Still, I know it had to be a difficult decision for Byrne because of all he had invested in getting the Mississippi State football program up to speed. He made the gut-wrenching decision to pull the plug on Sylvester Croom at the end of the 2008 season.

It's not something Byrne wanted to do because of what Croom stood for and his efforts in cleaning up the program, but Byrne also felt like the program needed new leadership if it was going to take that next step.

He quickly settled on Dan Mullen, and thanks to Mullen's aggressive recruiting in the state and some tireless marketing and promotion by Byrne and his staff, the excitement and anticipation surrounding the program right now is as high as it's been in a long time.

Byrne will be missed at Mississippi State. He knew how to treat people. He understood that he was in a people business, but he also knew how to make tough decisions.

There's no easy way to fire a coach or force a coach out, especially one as classy as Croom, but Byrne navigated that whole process about as well as he could.

It's always going to be a challenge at Mississippi State.  The Bulldogs are never going to have the cash and resources to throw around the way they do at Alabama, Florida, LSU, Georgia and Tennessee.

But Byrne has the Mississippi State football program -- and the climate surrounding the program -- pointed in the right direction.

The groundwork has been laid for his successor.