It’s tough being a fan of the Missouri State Bears sometimes. The Bears are in a mid-major conference that has been on the downward swing for the past decade. A conference that once could land 3 teams in the big dance. Now, you better win the conference tournament or else you aren’t dancing. This was proven in 2017 when Illinois State was sitting on a 27-5 record on Selection Sunday. They didn’t get a bid.
This makes being a fan of Missouri State basketball frustrating. I grew up rooting for a power five school. If the tournament was missed, it was considered a failure of a season. But this is a different. Without winning the conference tournament, it is almost impossible to land in the field of 68.
This program needs to start trending up. And it needs to happen soon. The Missouri Valley Conference is the most irrelevant that it has ever been. And the Bears need to get out of it. The problem is, they can’t. Conferences don’t benefit from adding a school that will not be competitive. Missouri State needs to prove that they can hang with the big guys or else they will be stuck in the rapidly dying Missouri Valley for good.
To be frank, Missouri State basketball sucks. They are bad. They are easily the worst sports team that I have ever had to endure being a fan of. Ever since I started following the team in 2015, they have been nothing short of unimpressive. Every year, the team is overhyped and every year we as fans are let down. But now is the time to change. And I think we have the right guy at the helm.
Dana Ford is a good fit for this program. I know that last season the team did not live up to the hype. But to be fair, setting the expectation of a sweet 16 appearance at the beginning of the season was a bit of a stretch. Especially for a program that hasn’t seen the likes of the NCAA tournament since 1999. We as fans need to remember that Ford is young. He is still figuring this out. And eventually he will. I have confidence in saying that. Ford has only been a division one head coach for 6 seasons. The X’s and O’s are there. The mindset is there. The ability to adapt is there as well. Give him a couple years and the direction of Missouri State basketball will be on the right track.
That leads to the next problem of being a fan of a mid-major team. Once a program gets on the right track, good coaches get picked up by a better school. Just ask former Bears coaches Steve Alford and Cuonzo Martin.
When Ford does turn things around, he will be the next to go. This is what makes things so frustrating. Best case scenario, the Bears make a run in St Louis. They punch a 14 seed. Maybe grab an upset and then get knocked in the second round. Next thing you know, power 5 schools come calling for our coach. Our players leave to follow the coach – and we’re back to square one. That is why moving to a better conference is the only solution I can think of to stay relevant. Of course, in order to stay relevant, the Bears must first become relevant.
In short, start winning. Keep winning. Join a better conference. Win some more. The Bears need to become relevant in basketball. And this is the formula. Do I think this will happen? No, of course not. There are some big asks in there – mostly the winning part. Which Missouri State simply does not appear to be interested in. After all, this is Missouri State basketball. The same program that has a less than impressive record of 138-153 over the last decade. Regardless, I will support my alma mater and the team through thick and thin. But please, Bears, give us fans something to be excited about. The past decade has been a train wreck. It’s time to start winning. And it’s time to start winning right now.