STARKVILLE — Like anyone else walking around the chilly Mississippi State campus these days, Brandon McRae hears the criticism of his coach, Sylvester Croom. Fellow students, friends, even teachers “just talking about how he needs to get out of here and stuff,” the Bulldog wide receiver said.

But like he and a handful of other players said Tuesday, they’re not letting it affect them. Within the figurative walls of the MSU football team, they say the criticism is being paid little attention.

“I’m like, man, I tell them they don’t know anything,” McRae said. “They’re not here with us.”

As MSU (3-7, 1-5 SEC) prepares for Saturday’s game against Arkansas (4-6, 1-5) at Scott Field with questions swirling about the future of the program, that’s precisely the reaction that Croom would want his players to have.

“The thing I try to bring up to them is asking them not to deal with the criticism that they receive,” Croom said Tuesday. “The thing that I understand is, I tell them all the time, people don’t understand what’s going on with inside – a football team is just like a family. And no matter what you think from the outside, you don’t know unless you’re on the inside every day.”

Croom on Tuesday took a step toward foreshadowing what, if anything, might be coming at the end of the season, telling The Clarion-Ledger he’s constantly evaluating his program – and alluding to developing a plan for potential change.

“You evaluate things every day, but I’m not going to comment on what my thoughts are until – when I get ready to do something, it will be done,” he said. “When I come to the public, the plan will be in place. There will be no speculation. I will have made a decision, and that’s the way I’m going to go. So in the meantime, we’re going to get ready for Arkansas and Ole Miss.”

Pressed on how he’d react to pressure from higher-ups to make specific changes, Croom reacted diplomatically.

“I’ll make whatever changes I feel like that will give us a chance to win toward winning a conference championship, because that’s what I came here to do,” Croom said. “I will listen – as any employee would to his employer – but ultimately I’ll have to make decisions that I can live with and still function as the head coach.”