Archive for May, 2008

A little of this, a little of that

May 30, 2008

Now this is what you call improvement.

After firing a 326 on Wednesday in the opening round of the NCAA golf championships in West Lafayette, Ind., Mississippi State shaved 29 strokes in its second round to record a 297. The Bulldogs are currently in 27th place, and if they are to make the cut after today’s third round, they have to be in the Top 15.

Noah Goldman leads MSU with a two-day total of 152, while Matt Fast is second at 158.

In other news . . .
• Oregon State’s Pat Casey says he is not interested in the MSU job.
• Terry’s Rashun Dixon, an MSU football signee, was named Mississippi’s 2008 Baseball Gatorade Player of the Year. As a senior, the little brother of Anthony Dixon hit .530 with 13 home runs and 57 RBIs in leading his team to the Class 5A semifinals.
• The SEC wraps up its meetings in Destin today.
• A total of 15 Mississippi State track and field athletes vie for spots at the upcoming NCAA Championships this weekend at the NCAA Mideast Regional at John McDonnell Field on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville. Entering the regional meet, the MSU men’s team is 23rd in the nation in the latest USTFCCCA Division I Men’s Outdoor Track and Field poll and 20th in the Track and Field News’ rankings.
• And for today’s reading, here’s some more possible candidates to replace Ron Polk.


SEC football coaches vote for early signing period

May 29, 2008

Nine of the 12 SEC football coaches voted in favor of asking the league to support an early signing period proposed for late November, and presented their case to SEC athletic directors to be considered as national legislation.

The proposal would give prep prospects who have not taken any official visits one day before the start of the official contact period on Dec. 1 to sign a binding national letter of intent.

A recent Football Coaches Association survey indicated that 70 percent of its members like the idea of an early signing period.

MSU coach Sylvester Croom and chairman of the football coaches said he believes the one-day period would be a positive for college football, particularly the prospects.

“We’d like to have it, but we do not want to change the recruiting cycle or the recruiting culture,” he told the Associated Press.

The three coaches that aren’t in favor of the change are Steve Spurrier, Urban Meyer and Bobby Petrino.

A closer look at the possible candidates

May 29, 2008

In today’s Daily Journal, I did capsules on five possible candidates to replace Ron Polk.

They were:
• John Cohen
• Tommy Raffo
• Steve Smith
• Brian O’Connor
• Pat Casey

On Friday, I’ll take a look at:
• Mike Anderson (Nebraska)
• Jeff Brantley (former MSU and MLB pitcher)
• Tim Jamieson (Missouri)
• Dan McDonnell (Louisville)
• Buck Showalter (former MSU player and MLB manager)

Varnado announces he is leaving

May 28, 2008

No. Not Jarvis. Just his dad, Winston.

Tomorrow, West Point High School will announce Winston Varnado as its new boys’ basketball coach. He replaces Thomas Brooks, who left for the same position at Kosciusko.

The elder Varnado comes to Mississippi after a successful career at Haywood High School in Brownsville, Tenn., where he coached his son, the reigning SEC defensive player of the year who led the nation with 157 blocks.

Great move on both fronts. The Green Wave gets a proven coach, and the coach will be much closer to Starkville. With gas prices the way they are, I say that’s a good move.

Byrne on selection committee

May 28, 2008

Greg Byrne is one 26 people that’s been chosen to serve on the selection committee to help choose MSU’s next president.

Just a couple of months ago, he was the target of another selection committee, led by Doc Foglesong and Vance Watson, during his hiring process.

Dr. Bill Kibler, vice president for Student Affairs, will be committee chairman.


Conspiracy theory? Really? Wow!

May 28, 2008

I just finished a segment on Bo Bounds radio show in Jackson where we talked about Ole Miss fans thinking Larry Templeton gave the Rebels’ baseball team the shaft by sending them to Miami?


Sorry, but I don’t see it. OK, Ole Miss fans. Please explain your reasoning. I’m not buying it at all.

And before you start pointing your finger and blaming everyone for being sent to such a tough regional, perhaps you should look at your team and look at the entire season. Just a suggestion.

And note, Ole Miss won just four series, and had Arkansas won two games against MSU in the regular-season finale, the Razorbacks would have been in Hoover. Not the Rebels. Let’s face it, Ole Miss went to Hoover to play its way into a regional.

A conspiracy? Really? Wow! Look out for the black helicopters.

Rhodes invited to pre-draft camp

May 27, 2008

Former Mississippi State All-SEC forward Charles Rhodes is one 64 players that have been invited to participate in this week’s NBA pre-draft camp in Orlando.

For a complete listing of all players, check out Andy Katz’ latest ESPN update.

You are making the hire

May 27, 2008

Suppose for a moment you are in charge of hiring the next Mississippi State baseball coach. No easy task, mind you.

But as you scan the country seeking the top candidates, what are the three most important attributes you expect from your pool of coaches?

Pat Casey rumor; just two SEC teams hosting

May 26, 2008

OK. I admit I thought it was a long shot that Oregon State coach Pat Casey would consider coming to Mississippi State.

Now, though, I’m not so sure. Check out this blog, which mentions the MSU vacancy. And remember, Greg Byrne and Casey worked together at Oregon State for a few years.

Also, what’s up with just two SEC teams hosting a regional? That’s ridiculous. I say four should host every year. Oh well, what do I know.

You guys agree or disagree?

So much for the weak West

May 25, 2008

On Saturday, Alabama, LSU and Ole Miss were playing for the right to advance to SEC Tournament finals.

Today, the Tigers and Rebels are playing for a title. I guess the West isn’t so bad after all. At least for this week.

And can you think of a team in the country that’s playing better than LSU is right now? I certainly can’t.

Care to pick the score?

Oh, and as promised, the blog stepped out of the Internet today and onto the Sports section.

Look at who is interviewing at Central Florida

May 23, 2008

Thanks to MSU media relations guru Joe Galbraith’s reading interest while serving as the official scorer at the SEC Tournament in Hoover, we have published reports that a couple of guys with Mississippi State connections are interested in the head coaching job at Central Florida.

How about that?

Oh, and thanks Joe. Now get back to work. Was that really an error? I say it was hit.

THE sports story for MSU

May 23, 2008

For the most part, it’s been a successful sports year for Mississippi State. Perhaps one of the best in several years.

The football team earned a bid to the Liberty Bowl, while the basketball team advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament, losing to Memphis. At the same time, the women’s team were in the WNIT field.

The softball team excelled as well, losing to Hawaii in regional play, while the golf team travels to West Lafayette, Ind., next week to compete for a national title.

Men’s tennis had individuals competing in the NCAAs, while the men’s and women’s track programs achieved quite a bit, as well.

We also saw the changing of the guard in the athletic department, with the firing of Larry Templeton and the hiring of Greg Byrne. And finally, there’s the resignation of Ron Polk.

I guess you could also throw in all the off-the-field mishaps as news interest.

Of all the above, what’s the biggest story and why? And if I left anything out, let me know.

Your defining moments are making the newspaper

May 23, 2008

Earlier this week, I asked you all to identify the defining moments in football, basketball and baseball.

Based on your answers, I’m writing a Sunday column. If for some reason you don’t want your username included, let me know now. Otherwise, the blog and Sports section will merge.

Oh. Anyone care to predict tonight’s games?

South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt, 3 p.m.
Alabama vs. Kentucky, 6:30 p.m.

Day 1 extends to Day 2

May 22, 2008

Whew! What an opening day in the SEC Tournament.

So much for staying on schedule, as the Alabama-Kentucky game didn’t start until three hours after it was scheduled and didn’t finish until the wee hours of Thursday morning. Oh well, that’s baseball.  But you can thank LSU and South Carolina for the extra-inning showdown that threw everything out of whack.

Now it’s time for the second round.

Pick your winners and scores:
South Carolina vs. Florida
Georgia vs. Alabama
Vanderbilt vs. LSU
Ole Miss vs. Kentucky

Your Wednesday winners were:
Ole Miss

Byrne recommends pay hike for Croom

May 21, 2008

Athletics director to-be Greg Byrne confirmed Wednesday afternoon that he has recommended to the college board a pay increase for Sylvester Croom that would take his state pay from $215,000 to $250,000.

The board will vote on the proposal on Thursday, and it’s a deal that will run through the 2011 season.

His hefty supplement, which is provided by the Bulldog Foundation and will push his salary near the $1.2 million mark, hasn’t been finalized, and Byrne didn’t want to comment further until the entire packaged was signed. However, he expects that deal to be completed in “the near future.”

OK. Pick those scores

May 20, 2008

The SEC tournament starts bright and early on Wednesday morning.

Here’s the lineup:

Game 1 10:00 a.m. #7 South Carolina vs. #2 LSU [CSS HD] (XM 199)
Game 2 1:00 p.m. #6 Vanderbilt vs. #3 Florida [CSS HD] (XM 199)
Game 3 5:00 p.m. #8 Ole Miss vs. #1 Georgia [CSS HD]
Game 4 8:00 p.m. #5 Alabama vs. #4 Kentucky

Pick the scores. And I’ll be honest, that’s going to be a hard task. These games could go either way.


Defining moments

May 20, 2008

When you think about the past season that was Mississippi State athletics, what would you say are the defining moments for football, basketball and baseball.

One or two from each sport will do.

Drum roll, please

May 20, 2008

The SEC has announced its 2008 award winners, and for the first time I remember, there is no MSU representation.

SEC PLAYER OF THE YEAR – *Gordon Beckham, Georgia
SEC PITCHER OF THE YEAR – Joshua Fields, Georgia
SEC FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR – Hunter Morris, Auburn
SEC COACH OF THE YEAR – David Perno, Georgia
* unanimous selection

1B – Justin Smoak, South Carolina
2B – Josh Adams, Florida / Ryan Wilkes, Kentucky
3B – Pedro Alvarez, Vanderbilt / Logan Forsythe, Arkansas
SS – *Gordon Beckham, Georgia
C – Bryce Massanari, Georgia
OF – Collin Cowgill, Kentucky
OF – Sawyer Carroll, Kentucky
OF – Matt den Dekker, Florida/ Brandon May, Alabama
David Macias, Vanderbilt
DH – Alex Avila, Alabama
P – Patrick Keating, Florida
P – Chris Rusin, Kentucky
RP – Joshua Fields, Georgia


1B – Hunter Morris, Auburn
2B – Alex Feinberg, Vanderbilt
3B – James Darnell, South Carolina
SS – Ryan Flaherty, Vanderbilt / Reese Havens, S. Carolina
C – Yan Gomes, Tennessee
OF – Avery Barnes, Florida
OF – Dominic de la Osa, Vanderbilt
OF – Kentrail Davis, Tennessee
DH – Phil Disher, South Carolina
P – Lance Lynn, Ole Miss
P – Trevor Holder, Georgia / Stephen Dodson, Georgia
RP – Scott Bittle, Ole Miss


1B – *Hunter Morris, Auburn
2B – *Josh Adams, Florida
3B – David Cunningham, Auburn
SS – *Josh Rutledge, Alabama
C – *Micah Gibbs, LSU
OF – *Kentrail Davis, Tennessee
OF – Whit Merrifield, South Carolina
OF – Brian Fletcher, Auburn
DH – P.J. Polk, Tennessee
P – Drew Pomeranz, Ole Miss
P – Grant Dayton, Auburn
RP – Russell Brewer, Vanderbilt

P – Jared Bradford, LSU
1B – Rich Poythress, Georgia
2B – Ryan Wilkes, Kentucky
SS – Reese Havens, South Carolina
3B – Jake Smith, Alabama
C – Brett Basham, Ole Miss
OF – Matt den Dekker, Florida
OF – Collin Cowgill, Kentucky
OF – David Macias, Vanderbilt

The 10 to look at

May 19, 2008

Here are some names that have been mentioned as possible replacements for Ron Polk to lead the Mississippi State baseball program.

How would you rate them, 1-10? Who else would you add to the list?
Pat Casey, Oregon State
Steve Smith, Baylor
John Cohen, Kentucky
Mike Anderson, Nebraska
Dan McDonnell, Louisville
Brian O’Connor, Virginia
Buck Showalter, former Yankees, Diamondbacks and Rangers manager
Tommy Raffo, MSU assistant
Jeff Brantley, former MSU player and current member of Cincinnati Reds radio crew
Tim Corbin, Vanderbilt

The new baseball season

May 19, 2008

No. Mississippi State didn’t receive a sponsor’s bid to get into the SEC Tournament. But it’s safe to say the new season, and perhaps just as important, is now underway.

It’s called a coaching search.

Ron Polk’s career at MSU is over, and the task now is to hire his replacement. Of course, soon-to-be athletic director Greg Byrne is in charge of the search and there is no timetable in naming Polk’s successor. He’s also made it clear from Day 1 it’s not going to be a search that will be played out in the media.

But we all know info magically leaks, and I’ll do my best to provide as much info as possible.

As for this week, I’ll have a story on Tuesday about the search following an interview with Byrne here shortly. Then it’s off to Hoover, hopefully to get something on Kentucky coach John Cohen’s interest in the job. From that point, we’ll play it by ear.

Also, there’s still news to report on Jamont Gordon, but he hasn’t been all that good in returning calls lately. Hopefully, that will change.