If he were giving a state of the union address concerning MTSU, Athletics Director Chris Massaro would say the Blue Raiders are certainly on the right path.
With the 2013-14 athletic year concluded, Massaro likes what he sees, especially coming out of the program’s first year in Conference USA.
“What I like was in a lot of sports we competed for championships and were in the upper crust of the league,” he said.
“That’s our goal every year in every sport, and I was pleased with the level of competition we played against and how we really competed.”
MTSU went to a bowl game in football, its men’s basketball team won a regular-season title, its women's basketball team won regular season and tournament titles and the men’s golf team made an NCAA regional.
“To have back-to-back 8-4 regular seasons in football was great,” Massaro said. “It’s hard to win. I thought our signature win was against Marshall on national TV on the last play of the game. That’s why we joined Conference USA.
“I really like the TV package that we have, and I like all of the bowl tie-ins that we have in Conference USA.”
All athletic programs across the board are a work in progress, and MTSU’s is no different, Massaro acknowledged.
“We have to win championships and tournaments. … We’ve got to get better in some sports,” he said. “We’re making progress in softball, but we’ve got to get better. I was really pleased with how Mags’ (MTSU baseball coach Jim McGuire) team played at the end and finished fourth.
“If we had played better in February and March, we could have put ourselves in position for an at-large bid. That’s what we need to do. Soccer had a young team and missed the tournament on tie-breakers, but I expect them to be a lot better.”
Massaro also emphasized that the MTSU athletic program made a quantum leap in moving to Conference USA.
“It was a tremendous step up in competition,” he said. “Even coach Rick (Insell) said that every team had an athlete like (Lady Raider senior forward) Ebony Rowe. It was never more evident in men’s basketball. We played a great game against UAB at home and won in overtime.”
Massaro said he was most disappointed in MTSU’s men’s basketball team being left out of the postseason.
“The conference as a whole has to look at men’s basketball. We need more than one team in the tournament and the NIT. My biggest disappointment was our men didn’t make the NIT. In my view, they were very deserving. They deserved to go to the postseason.”
All in all, Massaro said he is “very pleased” where MTSU stands going into its second year in Conference USA.
“Generally speaking, with the coaches we have, I’ll take our coaches over any in Conference USA,” he said. “That’s how you build a great athletic department. I’m very pleased right now where we sit as an athletic department.”