STARKVILLE — Incoming Mississippi State president Mark Keenum said Wednesday that he has the “utmost respect” for MSU coach Sylvester Croom, who is facing questions about his job security in his fifth season as the Bulldogs’ coach.

“Our program has had some tough breaks,” Keenum told The Clarion-Ledger. “We’re in a very competitive conference. It was just last year that he was SEC coach of the year. We still have some big games left this season and some opportunities to end the season on a high note.”

Keenum, an MSU alum and Department of Agriculture undersecretary, will take over as MSU’s president in early January. His hire was confirmed by the state College Board late Wednesday.