Archive for June, 2008

Tupelo’s Stratton Commits

June 30, 2008

By Brad Locke

Tupelo right-hander Chris Stratton made a verbal commitment Sunday to play baseball for Mississippi State.

The 2008 Daily Journal Player of the Year posted a 10-1 record with a 1.95 ERA in leading Tupelo to the Class 5A state finals. The rising senior struck out 98 batters in 75.1 innings, and he hit .367 at the plate.

MSU has always been on Stratton’s radar, but the hiring of new coach John Cohen sealed the deal.

“I’m just real excited about the new staff and what they’re all about, and the new era of State,” Stratton said. “Coach Cohen, he’s unreal. Coach (Butch) Thompson, the new pitching coach, is real good. He’s real intense, and I’m real excited about getting close to him.”

Stratton, who’s 16-1 over two seasons, throws a mid-to-upper-80s fastball with a good curveball, and he’s working on a changeup. His biggest strength is his pinpoint accuracy.

“He has the ability to throw any of his pitches for strikes at any time in the count,” Tupelo coach Gary Enis said.

Read more about this story in Tuesday’s Daily Journal.

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I’m clocking out

June 28, 2008

OK, sports fan. It’s time for me to say good-bye for a few weeks.

It’s the real vacation and I’ll be gone until July 15. It feels strange leaving with so much going on involving Jamont Gordon, but I know others will step up and keep you guys informed.

Feel free to post updates you might hear or come across.

I also ask that you keep Farley and his family in your prayers. Their son, Aedan, was born early Saturday morning but with some heart complications. He’s been airlifted from Oxford to LeBonheur in Memphis. It’s kinda scary for them right now and some divine intervention would go a long ways in comforting them. Also, if one of you will keep this blog updated on Aedan’s condition I would be greatly appreciative.

Hang in there, Farley.

As for everyone else, have a great two weeks and I look forward to getting back to the blog on July 15.

Rhodes heading to Dallas

June 27, 2008

Apparently, free agency is working well for Charles Rhodes.

The Dallas Morning News is reporting C-Rhodes is about to join the team.

Now, we’ll just wait and see what happens with Gordon.

NCAA and eligibility issues facing Gordon

June 27, 2008

I have obtained a copy of a letter from the NCAA offices to student-athletes contemplating declaring for the NBA draft as an upperclassman.

Here are the key points, which I cut and pasted . . .

Six Points to Remember:
You will lose your eligibility IF:
• You agree orally or in writing to be represented by an agent or any individual acting on behalf of the agent [e.g., runner].
• You accept any benefits from an agent, a prospective agent or any individual acting on behalf of the agent [e.g., runner].
• If you participate in a tryout with an NBA team that lasts longer than 48 hours, which you have not personally financed.
• If you tryout with a professional team during the academic year and miss class.
• If you enter the draft AND do not take the appropriate steps to withdraw and declare your intention to resume intercollegiate participation.
• If you enter the draft AND are drafted by a professional team.

Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Am I allowed to enter the NBA draft early?
YES! You may enter a professional basketball league’s draft one time during your collegiate career without jeopardizing your eligibility; provided you are not drafted by any team and you declare your intention to resume intercollegiate participation within 30 days after the draft. This declaration must be in writing to your director of athletics.

2. Am I allowed to participate in the NBA predraft camp in late May-early June?
YES! If you are invited, you may attend the predraft camp and accept actual and necessary expenses from the NBA to participate in the NBA predraft camp. You are permitted to attend the entire camp (even though it might occur during the academic year).

3. Can my college coach arrange and schedule a professional team workout/tryout on or off campus during the academic year?
NO! It would not be permissible for a student-athlete’s institutional coach to organize and be present during a professional tryout that occurs on or off campus.

4. Can NBA teams pay for my private workouts/tryouts?
YES! You may tryout with an NBA team during the academic year if you are enrolled full-time as long as you do not miss class. You may receive actual and necessary expenses from the NBA team in conjunction with one 48-hour tryout per team. The 48-hour tryout period begins when you arrive at the tryout location. At the completion of the 48-hour period you must depart the location of the tryout immediately in order to receive transportation expenses.

5. Can any other individual (e.g., agent, runner, or “advisor”) pay for my private workouts/tryouts with NBA teams?
NO! Unless an NBA team pays for your expenses in conjunction with a private workout or tryout, you and your family are responsible for paying all expenses associated with any tryouts as they are incurred.

6. Can I pay for my own private workouts/tryouts with NBA teams?
YES! A tryout may extend beyond 48 hours if the individual self-finances additional expenses, including return transportation. A self-financed tryout may be for any length of time, provided you don’t miss class.

Gordon update

June 27, 2008

Jamont Gordon’s future remains cloudy.

First, no one is sure whether he signed with an agent. Second, his academic status is still unclear.

This we do know . . . According to NCAA bylaws, if he wants to return for his senior season he has 30 days to submit a written letter to Greg Byrne stating he wants to come back.

When I learn more, you’ll be the first to know.

Weatherford signs with Rockies

June 27, 2008

Former Mississippi State reliever Aaron Weatherford has signed a contract with the Colorado Rockies, who selected him in the third round with the 103rd overall pick.

He’ll begin his professional baseball career in the Northwest League with the Tri-City Dust Devils, located in Pasco, Wash.

He joins Tyle Moore, Jeff Flagg and Brandon Turner as members off last year’s MSU team that signed contracts.

Raffo among candidates for ASU job

June 27, 2008

Is Tommy Raffo going to Arkansas State?

According to a story in the Jonesboro Sun, the former longtime MSU assistant is one of many, many candidates.

He interviewd for the position on Thursday.

Katz on Gordon and other underclassmen

June 27, 2008

ESPN’s Andy Katz has story this morning on Jamont Gordon and other underclassmen who went undrafted last night.

Even though I didn’t think Gordon would go in the first round, I thought he would be taken by at least the 45th overall pick. I’m guessing last night was as miserable of a night as he has ever encountered.

Rough day for Jamont Gordon

June 26, 2008

Sixty picks, and not one featured Jamont Gordon.

Thursday’s NBA draft has come and gone and Gordon nor Charles Rhodes were drafted. As for what this means for Gordon, I’m not sure.

It’s still unclear if he signed with an agent, and even more unclear is his eligibility status. Well, you know what I’ll be working on tomorrow.

On to round two

June 26, 2008

Well, Jamont Gordon didn’t get drafted in the first round. Now, we’ll see what his fate is as far as the second round is concerned.

Also, keep an eye on Charles Rhodes. If he goes, it will likely be around the 55th-60th pick.

483

June 26, 2008

The significance of this number?

When talking with Larry Templeton for my Sunday piece on him, he informed me that he had seen 483 MSU football games in row.

The last game he missed was the 1963 Liberty Bowl in Philadelphia, Pa. We’ll give him a pass on that considering he was just a young whipper-snapper.

Any of you got a good streak going?

With this pick . . .

June 26, 2008

Those are words Jamont Gordon and Charles Rhodes hope to hear tonight during the NBA’s draft, which will be aired live on ESPN starting at 6 p.m.

In today’s Daily Journal, both Gordon and Rhodes discuss their futures.

Where do you feel these two will fall in the draft?

Meet the proposed basketball practice facility

June 25, 2008

This is the artist rendering for Mississippi State’s basketball practice facility, in case you missed the story and picture in Sunday’s Daily Journal. I say it looks quite impressive.

One more year for Larry Templeton? Perhaps

June 25, 2008

For the last three years, Larry Templeton has served as chairman of the NCAA’s baseball selection committee. Most thought this would be his final year due to him no longer being the AD as of July 1.

However, baseball insiders and powers to be are currently working on a proposal for Larry to retain his title for at least another year.

When I called him in Omaha, where he’s been for the last 16 days, and asked him about it, he said, “Yeah. If they ask me to do it, I will. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun, too.”

In other words, he’s going to remain chairman.

On Sunday, I’ll have a story on Larry Templeton regarding his career at Mississippi State. During our interview, he really had some interesting things to say. There is no question the man bleeds Maroon & White and always will.

Some news and notes

June 25, 2008

Here are some nuggets regarding MSU, directly and indirectly, I thought you might find interesting . . .

• Mississippi State placed 77 student-athletes on the SEC’s spring honor roll, the fourth most of any school behind Florida, South Carolina and Arkansas. The Diamond Dogs had 23 players that earned honors.
• Remember Joe Dean, Jr., an MSU alum who was interested in the MSU athletics director job? Well, he just agreed to serve as Chairman of Community Relations for the Papajohns.com Bowl. He’ll still keep his job as Birmingham Southern’s AD.
• The NBA draft is tomorrow. Keep an eye on Jamont Gordon and Charles Rhodes.

Your take on the schedule

June 25, 2008

With each game, place a “W” for a win, “L” for a loss or “?” if not sure . . . Hey, it’s June.

at Louisiana Tech
Southeastern Louisiana
Auburn
at Georgia Tech
at LSU
Vanderbilt
at Tennessee
Middle Tennessee State
Kentucky

at Alabama
Arkansas
at Ole Miss

And if there’s a bowl, pick that too.

Wanna go to Hawaii

June 25, 2008

Next spring the Mississippi State baseball team will be traveling to Hawaii March 3-9 to play three or four games against the University of Hawaii and maybe even another team.

If you are interested in going, Njoy Travel out of Jackson is handling the details. For more information, call 1-800-530-1060 or contact Mamie Harvey at mlbh@cableone.net.

I’m not into plugging advertising deals, but I’ll let this one slip. It is, after all, Hawaii and a trip involving MSU athletics.

Predicting the divisions

June 24, 2008

Media Days are four weeks away, and that, of course, is when sportswriters and broadcasters will vote on the predicted order of finish.

So, let’s pretend today is the start of Media Days in Birmingham. Instead of me voting, I’ll pass along that distinction to you.

Fire away. Give me your predictions in both the Eastern and Western Division.

Meet Scott Stricklin

June 24, 2008

Last week, Scott Stricklin was named Mississippi State’s associate athletics director for external affairs. Scott, who has spent the past five seasons at Kentucky as associate AD for media relations overseeing men’s basketball, is a Jackson native and graduated from MSU in 1992.

He and I have known each other since 1988, when we were wide-eyed freshmen at MSU.

Monday night, Scott was kind enough to answer five questions I thought you all would find interesting.

Q: Take us through your career since graduating from MSU?
A:
I spent a year in an entry-level media relations position at MSU (1992-93), followed by five years as associate media relations director at Auburn (1993-98). I left Auburn to become Assistant Athletic Director at Tulane (1998-99 … 12-0 football season included), then moved on to Baylor for four years (1999-2003), where I oversaw both media relations and marketing. I’ve spent the last five years as Associate Athletics Director at Kentucky (2003-present) with various responsibilities, although with an emphasis in media relations.

Q: How difficult is it leaving one of the top basketball programs in the country that has such a storied tradition as Kentucky?
A:
Being around Kentucky basketball has been a lot of fun, but it’s difficult to leave every place I’ve worked. You meet so many wonderful people and develop such great memories that it makes every job change bittersweet.

Q: What exactly will your new job description at MSU entail?
A:
I’ll primarily be working in the area of Major Gifts, which for the most part deals with gifts for capital projects or endowments. I’ll also be helping out in some other administrative areas. But I’m looking forward to getting out around the state and meeting as many Bulldogs as possible.

Q:  What is your long-term career goal?
A:
Well, I’ve already appeared in Gregg Ellis’ blog … anything else seems a little anti-climatic. (Editor’s Note: Good humor never hurts. And no, I didn’t pay him to say that).

Q: What is something about Scott Stricklin people may not know?
A:
I finished my first half-marathon in Nashville this past April (one hour, 49 minutes). I have a full marathon in me, just don’t know where or when.

Thanks, Scott. Now go raise some money!

Wayne Madkin update

June 23, 2008

Ever wonder what Wayne Madkin is doing these days?

Well, the former Mississippi State quarterback lives in Birmingham and oversees the “Signal Caller Foundation” that he started back in 2006.

The mission of the foundation is to “educate high school and college students and student athletes on financial and personal wellness throughout their lives . . . Many of our students and student athletes are missing the blueprint to success after sports and graduation in their respective fields. Our plan is to help eliminate this disparity of knowledge by empowering all students to take control of their financial future and personal health.”

To help raise money for the foundation, Madkin is organizing the Golden Egg Golf Classic to be played at the Tupelo Country Club on July 21. The format is a four-person scramble, and prizes will be awarded to the top three teams. There will also be closest to the hole, longest drive and par-three challenge contests.

Cost is $500 per team or $125 per person, and that includes access to the driving range, lunch and awards dinner and a tournament shirt. For more information, go to http://www.signalcaller.org.

“This event for me is a very personal one and is the realization of a dream,” Madkin said. “It is meant to be a fun time presenting the chance for us to reminisce about Egg Bowls past and make predictions for the ones to come.”