Archive for December, 2008

Top five MSU stories from 2008 …

December 31, 2008

Here is Brad’s story today about the top five stories from MSU in 2008 – Click here for the story.

What do you think? What were your top five stories this year? What will be the top five next year?

Happy New Year to everyone who comes here, thanks for building a great community here.

Todd Vinyard
Online Editor

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Bulldogs fall to San Diego …

December 31, 2008

Men’s hoops story from today’s Daily Journal … Missed FTs costly for Bulldogs

Lady Bulldogs fall for first time this season

December 30, 2008

No. 14 Maryland (11-2) beat Mississippi State 80-73.

Mullen adds Torbush, Wilson to staff

December 30, 2008

Dan Mullen keeps adding to his staff …

The Associated Press
STARKVILLE – New coach Dan Mullen has hired two more assistant coaches for his staff at Mississippi State.

Carl Torbush, former head coach at North Carolina and Louisiana Tech, and former Ole Miss and Southern Miss assistant coach Frank Wilson are the new hires.

Torbush returns to major college football after three seasons as assistant head coach at his alma mater, Carson-Newman. Before that he spent five seasons as defensive coordinator for Dennis Franchione at Alabama and Texas A&M. He also was a defensive coordinator at Ole Miss in the mid-1980s.

Wilson joins the staff after a year as running backs coach and recruiting coordinator for Larry Fedora at Southern Miss. Before that, he spent three years on Ed Orgeron’s staff at Ole Miss.

Links for the day …

December 30, 2008

Good morning. Here are a few links for the Daily Journal today for your reading pleasure …

Bulldogs seek ‘grit’ – MSU (8-4) battles San Diego (6-7) tonight at Humphrey Coliseum in men’s basketball action. The game, which tips off at 8 p.m., will be televised by Fox Sports South.

Terrapins test 11-0 Bulldogs in women’s basketball action tonight.

Lady Bulldogs stay unbeaten

December 29, 2008

Brad is away enjoying some well-deserved time off, but we’ll still try to keep up to date with MSU news. Here is some good news for the Lady Bulldogs …

A 16-1 run to open the second half lifted the Mississippi State women’s basketball team past Marshall 73-65 in the opening game of the University of Maryland hosted Terrapin Classic Monday afternoon at the Comcast Center.

Click here for more.

‘Twas the Day After Christmas …

December 26, 2008

Good morning, friends. I hope everyone had a joyful Christmas Day. I must ask, what was your favorite moment from yesterday? I’d say mine was watching my children’s faces light up as they opened their gifts.

Anyway, I had a silly little Christmas-themed column in today’s Daily Journal – yes, the day after Christmas. As for what’s ahead, I am working on a lengthy story on Dan Mullen that will run Saturday or Sunday. I will be taking some vacation time beginning Saturday, so you’ll be hearing little from me over the next week, but online editor Todd Vinyard will help me keep things updated.

Derek Pegues Going to Senior Bowl

December 24, 2008

Mississippi State’s Derek Pegues has accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl, according to an MSU spokesman. Pegues, a free safety and kick returner, recently completed a stellar four-year career at State. He is the SEC’s all-time leader in career kick return yards (2,484), and he has 12 career interceptions, which ties him for second place with Izell McGill (1994-97) in school history behind Walt Harris (1992-95), who had 16.

In 2008, Pegues (5-foot-10, 196 pounds) had 50 tackles (tied for fourth on team) and two interceptions (tied for first). He averaged 22.8 yards per kick return and 6.6 yards per punt return. He was named second-team All-SEC by the coaches this season, a year after being named first-team by the AP.

Pegues will be the 75th Bulldog to playe in the Senior Bowl, which has pitted the North vs. the South since 1950. This year’s game will be played in Mobile, Ala., on Jan. 24 at 6 p.m. It will be televised by the NFL Network.

A Christmas Wish for MSU

December 24, 2008

It’s Christmas Eve, which means most of us have suddenly realized that tomorrow is Christmas Day. Thus, stores are packed with procrastinators.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not good at finding good presents for people. I pretty much need them to tell me what they want, which kind of ruins the surprise (although my wife hates surprises, so it kind of works out with her gifts). What I’d like to know is what you would give the Mississippi State athletic program, or any of its employees, for Christmas. Feel free to suspend reality for this exercise.

And in the quite likely event that I don’t post again until Friday: Merry Christ-mas.

Back Home & On the Links

December 23, 2008

Just got back in from Jackson. Tip: Even if your optometrist says it’s OK to do so, don’t sleep in your contacts. Oh, the burn!

Anyway, here is today’s story from MSU’s 74-68 basketball win over Nicholls State last night. The Bulldogs (8-4) are off until Dec. 30, when they host San Diego. By the way, MSU is inviting Mississippi middle school and high school boys and girls basketball teams to attend that game free of charge; same goes for the Jan. 3 game against Houston and the Jan. 5 game against Western Kentucky.

On the football front, here is today’s story about how new coach Dan Mullen is putting a staff together. He said we could hear of more hires this week, so stay tuned. And I’ll have more from Mullen later this week.

And this interesting tidbit: The State (Columbia, S.C.) newspaper has ranked the new Division I-A football hires, and MSU’s choice of Mullen comes in second behind New Mexico’s Mike Locksley. Which of the 17 hires was the worst? You guessed it: Gene Chizik at Auburn.

Hoops: MSU 74, Nicholls State 68

December 22, 2008

Junior center Jarvis Varnado scored 24 points to lead MSU (8-4) to a 74-68 victory over Nicholls State (6-5) at Jackson’s Mississippi Coliseum tonight. Varnado is the first Bulldog to score 20-plus points in three straight games since Lawrence Roberts did it in the 2004-05 season. Over the last three games, Varnado has scored 69 points on 27-of-33 shooting.

Now, some quotes, starting with Varnado:

• On the small lineup helping him: “The floor is spread so I can just go to work.”

• On finding shots: “You just take what they give you. I don’t try to force a lot of shots.”

Now, coach Rick Stansbury:

• On Varnado: “No question, right now he’s that one force down inside that we felt like before season started he could become an offensive player for us. And he’s become that right now.”

• On Nicholls: “This is just one of these games like going to the dentist. Those guys were patient, methodical, shoot it and move it and grind it out for 30 seconds and have the capability to jump and make a 3-point shot.”

• On why sophomore F Kodi Augustus hasn’t played the last two games: “Coach’s decision. That’s about as easy as you can put it without going into any kind of detail. You’ve just got to make decisions sometimes to try to do things to help the team and to help improve players, too.”

• On getting senior F Brian Johnson back from injury (played 12 minutes): “Just to get him out there was huge for us. Now we’ve got to find a way to try to get him back in shape and get him in some rhythm. … He gives you a little moxie out there, gives you a little basketball understanding.”

Live from Jackson: MSU vs. Nicholls State

December 22, 2008

About ready to tip off at Mississippi Coliseum. Plenty of seats still available, including the $10 seats. F/C Brian Johnson (ankle/foot sprain) is participating in warmups and looking good. Might see his first action of the season tonight.

Dan Mullen: New Hire, & More

December 22, 2008

New MSU football coach Dan Mullen met with the media at the Bryan Building this morning. On the news front, he announced the hiring of Les Koenning as an offensive assistant (exact title TBA). Koenning worked at State under Rockey Felker from 1986-89 as running backs and receivers coach. He most recently was at South Alabama as offensive coordinator and QBs coach for the 2008 season. The 49-year-old has also coached at Texas A&M (twice), Alabama (twice), TCU, Houston, Duke (twice), Miami Dolphins, Rice, UL-Lafayette and Texas.

“He’s obviously bringing a wealth of experience,” said Mullen, who said some other hires could be announced later this week.

Other highlights from today’s session:

• On what it’s been like since he was hired: “I’ve been on a whirlwind tour. Between the recruiting, the interviewing, and every once in a while trying to peek to see what Oklahoma does on defense, basically taking up the 20 hours a day that I’m awake right now, it seems like.”

• On holdover assistants: “It’s still too early to tell exactly in what role everybody that’s here is going to be in. I think the guys that we’ve kept on have done a great job recruiting. I’d say we’re still in the evaluation process with all of those guys at this point.”

• On special teams: “A lot of kids, they’re signing to come play receiver, they’re signing to come play linebacker. What these guys are going to learn is that is as critical a part of the game as the offense or defense. I think once they learn that, then their involvement and their desire to be on special teams is going to be a lot different.”

• On recruiting: “I feel pretty good about how it’s going right now. Recruiting’s a 365-day-a-year job. I don’t if you’re ever caught up in recruiting. You’re just working as hard as you can every single day. I feel pretty good about where we are right now with things.”

• On leaving for Florida on Tuesday: “I know they have a lot of stuff done that I’m going to get caught up on where they are, and then make any adjustments to the plan they  have in place right there or input into the plan they have in place.”

• On talking with former coach Sylvester Croom: “I called to compliment him on the great situation that he’s left me in in coming in here. We did have a chance to visit. I’m looking forward to actually, when I do get a couple minutes to breathe, to spend some time with him and just go through a lot of the things that where he felt everything was here and the direction and advice he would have for me in how we can lead things into the future.”

On the (Frozen) Links

December 22, 2008

‘Tis the season … for the kind of up-and-down weather patterns that drive me crazy. My waterlogged back yard is now like the “frozen tundra” of Lambeau Field (“frozen tundra” is redundant, by the way, but hey).

Speaking of up-and-down, that could describe the MSU men’s basketball team, as I write in today’s Daily Journal. The Bulldogs (7-4) have plenty of talent, it just requires a lot of honing. Tonight, MSU faces a stern test when it battles Nicholls State (6-4) at Jackson’s Mississippi Coliseum. There are some specially priced tickets (behind the goals, & upper level) for $10 that you can buy at the arena. Tipoff is 7 p.m.

I am soon headed for Starkville, but I will soon return to this blog with some comments from football coach Dan Mullen.

Rick Stansbury: On the Road

December 21, 2008

Caught up with MSU coach Rick Stansbury a few moments ago as he and the Bulldogs were heading toward Jackson for Monday night’s game against Nicholls State. Tipoff at Mississippi Coliseum is 7 p.m. Some excerpts from our conversation:

• On what Thursday’s loss to Cincinnati exposed: “It’s very obvious we’re not the toughest team physically or mentally. You combine that with so much youth, that’s a bad recipe.”

• On injured F/C Brian Johnson: “Better than he was, but he’s a long ways from being back full speed. I may be  forced to have to play him a few minutes tomorrow night.” Stansbury said using Johnson is partly necessitated by an ankle injury to Elgin Bailey.

• On Nicholls: “They spread you out and play Princeton stuff, don’t have a center. They spread you out and shoot threes and try to take your big guy away from the basket.”

• On G Ravern Johnson: “He’s understanding the whole game. Before, in high school, was easy, just catch and shoot. Now you’ve got to understand how to come off screens, how to pass it and catch it. That’s an adjustment for all new guys.”

• On 6-9 C Jarvis Varnado and a smaller lineup: “I think Jarvis is one guy who’s benefited from it. All of a sudden we went from a guy we didn’t know could score, and now we’ve established a scorer down there.”

Redshirt Freshmen

December 21, 2008

This is something I meant to post a while back. It’s the list of MSU football players who were redshirted this season.

OL John Paul Alford
WR Charles Bailey
DL Nick Bell
DB Corey Broomfield
QB Terrance Davis
OL Templeton Hardy
LB Michael Hunt
DL Devin Jones
DL Shane McCardell
RB ToJo Patterson
OL Tobias Smith
DL Trevor Stigers
DB Louis Watson
WR O’Neal Wilder

This and That

December 21, 2008

Forgive my prolonged absence, but I spent the weekend getting Christmas stuff sorted out. And I’m still not done (ugh).

As you might have seen in today’s Journal, Super Bulldog Weekend has been moved to April 17-18. That means spring football practice begins the week of March 23 (right after spring break). Also, a reminder that the Bulldog basketball team plays in Jackson tomorrow night versus Nicholls State. The team leaves this afternoon, and there will be an autograph session from 6:30-7:15 tonight at Mississippi Coliseum.

Speaking of hoops, the Lady Bulldogs continue to roll. They beat Utah yesterday to move to 10-0 on the season.

And here’s something you might find interesting: We released our All-Area football team today. Coach of the Year was Baldwyn’s Jimmy Dillinger; Defensive Player of the Year went to Shannon LB Luzon Rivers; and Offensive Player of the Year was awarded to Tupelo WR/KR/Etc. Chad Bumphis. MSU is hoping, of course, to bring Bumphis to Starkville. Also, here is the entire All-Area first team.

Good Riddance, Cincinnati

December 19, 2008

Just got back in town. Cincinnati was a lovely city and all – except the parts I got lost in – but thanks goodness that trip’s over with. I became geographically displaced when trying to locate the Hamilton County Justice Center, which I eventually stumbled upon so as to procure copies of the arrest reports for Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy and director of basketball operations William Armstrong. Here is Parrish Alford‘s story on that from today’s Journal.

As for the hoopage last night, here is my game story on MSU’s loss to Cincinnati. You may ask, why are you just now linking this up? Well, for one, we cut out of Cincy about 7 a.m. (Eastern), plus I spilled water on my laptop keyboard during the game (thus, my sudden and prolonged absence from this web log). But it’s dried out and is working fine now.

And props to GG (Gregg Ellis) for doing some serious media relatin’ yesterday. I left my iPhone charger sitting on my night stand at home, which means my phone died yesterday about lunchtime. GG found me a charger – so Taylor Luczak, I thank you as well.

Hoops: MSU at Cincinnati

December 18, 2008

Looks like MSU will have both injured guard Barry Stewart (sprained left wrist) and coach Rick Stansbury for tonight’s game, which starts shortly. Stewart will start, I’m told, and although Stansbury isn’t 100 percent recovered from his viral infection, “he’ll make it through,” an assistant coach told me.

The basics:

What: SEC/Big East Challenge

Where: US Bank Arena, Cincinnati

TV: ESPN2

Records: MSU 7-3, Cincinnati 7-2

Mark Hudspeth Says …

December 18, 2008

As I was about to leave for Cincinnati yesterday, MSU’s new passing game coach, Mark Hudspeth, rang me up. We had a short chat, and here’s what I was able to jot in my notepad. It isn’t much, because I’m no good at shorthand. Plus he kind of talks fast.

• Hudspeth said getting to work at MSU and working for head coach Dan Mullen made it an easy decision to leave North Alabama.

• On his role: “You look at the run game coordinator, the passing game coordinator, and sometimes you’re looking at a co-coordinator situation. I don’t think any of those titles are solid right now.”

• On recruiting: “We’ve been full speed ahead with home visits. We started a little behind the eight ball, but we’ve made up a lot of ground in a short amount of time.”