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“The thing that really impressed me,” Southeast Missouri Athletic Director Mark Alnutt said one year and one day ago, “…his plans to make this program a winner.”

366 days later, that plan hasn’t exactly materialized.

This week the school announced that three more players, all freshman, would be leaving the program: Eric McGill was dismissed, while Robby Dosier and Jaylin Stewart would transfer. The trio joined (delusional) Tony Anderson, who decided after one year of mostly not playing, he would declare for the NBA draft.

Four guys, three of whom were brought in by Ray to help fulfill that plan, are now gone, leaving just five returners from the roster at the end of the season. (That’s not counting the three sophomores dismissed in December)

You can’t blame Ray for all of this. Stewart, for instance, is transferring to move closer to his hometown, where his father has been diagnosed with cancer. McGill’s issues began in January, when he was suspended against Eastern Kentucky for a violation in team rules.

Dosier? He scored just six points all season, and is heading to a JUCO program — the right move considering the lack of playing time and production.

But the end result is the feeling that the program is starting over…just one year after, well, starting over.

Even after taking over a three-win program, former head coach Dickey Nutt never had a season as bad as Ray’s first — but the ascension back into the conference fray wasn’t quick. Nutt didn’t finish over .500 in the league until his third year, and didn’t top that mark for the season until his fourth.

Nutt also came to SEMO following a long tenure at another mid-major program Arkansas State. Ray has only three-year’s head coaching experience under his belt, and that didn’t end all that well — or start well for that matter.

But the end result is the feeling that the program is starting over…just one year after, well, starting over.

It’s easy to point at Ray’s short tenure at Mississippi State as a failure, (he went 37-60 in three seasons, after all) but it’s a hire that never should have happened. Ray had never been a head coach before, heading to a SEC program trying to return to it’s prime of the early 1990’s. It didn’t help any that Ray’s style was far from ‘sexy,’ as his defensive minded teams often struggled to put up big numbers, which didn’t help with dwindling attendance numbers.

…and it’s not like his successor, Ben Howland, exactly took off in his first year with the Bulldogs.

One of the complaints about Nutt wasn’t just the win-loss record, but the program’s inability to meet expectations. His final few years with the program, Nutt entered the season with lofty aspirations, even picked to win the West one of those seasons. Even in the ‘good years,’ the team often felt disjointed, and out of control.

Dickey Nutt had two winning seasons in six years at Southeast Missouri

Dickey Nutt had two winning seasons in six years at Southeast Missouri

Suspensions weren’t exactly rare in Nutt’s final years.

Ray’s first year appears to have been spent taking back control of the program. Regardless of the ‘talent’ on the roster, Ray clearly set, and enforced, rules and boundaries for his players — and it’s hard to imagine it didn’t cost the Redhawks in the win column at the end of the day.

But maybe that’s not a bad thing. Maybe a reboot…after the reboot…is just what the program needs.

For years, we thought Southeast Missouri would be the first team to end Murray’s reign in the West Division, but it was UT Martin that found a way to take down the Racers. A Skyhawks team with a coach in Heath Schroyer that brought in a new way of thinking…to a program most assumed would never be a threat.

One year is far too quick to judge Ray. Even with the transfers and dismissals — there’s no reason not to believe that all these changes are in the best interest of a program that never found a way to get over that hump.

Often, coaches at this level look for the shortcuts — bring in the guys, add up the wins, and get out.

Maybe a reboot…after the reboot…is just what the program needs.

Ray’s taking the harder path. It appears he’s trying to build a program — and he’s putting his newly obtained job on the line to do it. Because, sooner rather than later, wins and losses will matter.

Right now, though? Maybe we should let Ray try his way.

Because, after all, it’s not like the way things were done before produced great results.


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OVC Ball
Compiling all OVC non-conference games

2016 Football Standings

OVC Overall
Jacksonville State 7-0 10-2
UT Martin 6-2 7-5
Tennessee Tech 5-3 5-6
Tennessee State 4-3 7-4
Eastern Illinois 4-4 6-5
Murray State 4-4 4-7
SEMO 3-5 3-8
Eastern Kentucky 2-6 3-8
Austin Peay 0-8 0-11


2016-17 Basketball Standings

OVC Overall

EAST

Belmont 15-1 23-7
Morehead State 10-6 14-16
Jacksonville State 9-7 20-15
Tennessee State 8-8 17-13
Tennessee Tech 8-8 12-20
Eastern Kentucky 5-11 12-19

WEST

UT Martin 10-6 22-13
SEMO 9-7 15-18
Murray State 8-8 16-17
Austin Peay 7-9 11-19
Eastern Illinois 6-10 14-15
SIUE 1-15 6-24


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