Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

This Blog Has Moved

March 27, 2009

That’s right, my new blog – bookmark it – is up and running at NEMS360.com. Doesn’t have all the bells and whistles yet, and I can’t figure out why there are no breaks between paragraphs, but we’re headed in the right direction. You’ll have to register – it’s free and easy – to leave comments. I’m told there will soon be an RSS feed for the blog, but it’s still in the works.

Right now you can read my answers to your Blog Bag questions, and the new blog is where all entries will go from now on. That doesn’t mean you should delete this one from your bookmarks. We’ll keep it around for two reasons: 1) Archive purposes; and 2) as a backup if/when the new one has problems.

So, there you have it. WordPress has been good to us, but integration is a good thing. Please let me know what you think of the new blog, good or bad, and ways you think it could be improved. Thanks for your faithful readership, and thanks for sticking with us as the Daily Journal makes strides in the online world.

Re-Opening the Blog Bag

March 24, 2009

Now that I’m (finally) back in town, I suppose I can open up ye olde Blog Bag once again. And I bet I can guess what most of the questions will address (no, not the correct siting of a temperature sensor). As I’m sure you all know, spring football starts today, and what a perfect day for it – my Weather Channel app says it’ll be about 73 degrees when practice begins at 3:30 p.m.

To review, here is the spring practice schedule:

Today – 3:30 p.m.

Thursday, March 26 – 3:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 28 – 10 a.m.

Tuesday, March 31 – 3:30 p.m.

Thursday, April 2 – 3:30 p.m.

Friday, April 3 – 3:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 4 – 10 a.m.

Tuesday, April 7 – 3:30 p.m.

Thursday, April 9 – 3:30 p.m.

Friday, April 10 – 3:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 11 – 10 a.m.

Tuesday, April 14 – 3:30 p.m.

Thursday, April 16 – 3:30 p.m.

Friday, April 17 – 3:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 18 – Maroon-White Game, 5:30 p.m.

Better Late Than Never; & Much More

March 13, 2009

It’s a fair question: Where would Mississippi State be if Kodi Augustus had been in the lineup and playing like this sooner? Would the Bulldogs have gotten past LSU in that double-overtime game? Would they have given Auburn a better shot? We’ll never know, of course, but we do know that Augustus’ sudden rise makes MSU as much a contender as anyone in the SEC Tournament. His 19 points off the bench in yesterday’s 79-60 win over Georgia illustrated just what the Bulldogs are capable of with him on the floor. (Don’t ask me why the headline calls him a freshman. That’s not in the story.)

Augustus did it all in 17 minutes of work. Starter Phil Turner, who sat when Augustus played, doesn’t mind sharing the workload. Expect the two to split minutes again today when the Bulldogs (20-12, 10-7 SEC) battle South Carolina (21-8, 10-6) at 2:15 p.m. Central. The winner will face the Kentucky-LSU winner (noon today) in the semifinals Saturday at noon. It can all be seen on Raycom or ESPN360.com.

In other news, MSU and South Carolina will also match up on the baseball diamond today. State opens its SEC slate at Dudy Noble Field, and coach John Cohen hopes his Bulldogs aren’t too overmatched.

An interesting note from track and field: An injury to another athlete allowed MSU’s Marrissa Harris to enter the NCAA Indoor Track Championships, which start today in College Station, Texas. This will be Harris’ second trip to the NCAAs, where she will compete in the 60-meter hurdles.

And finally, you might be wondering what took me so dang long to post something. It’s because I didn’t turn out the lights until 1:30 a.m. Why? That little six-overtime affair at Madison Square Garden, that’s why. But it’s OK, I have coffee now.

Blog Bag Answers, As Scheduled

March 6, 2009

Most of our questions dealt with scheduling, be it baseball, football or the SEC Basketball Tournament. So, here are your answers, people.

Q: Are there currently any future games scheduled with Nicholls State and if so, are we going to let them know ahead of time we don’t plan on playing or will we just let them figure it out when we don’t show?
A: As far as AD Greg Byrne knows, there is not. He posted a lengthy blog entry yesterday about the matter. “We really wanted to communicate to our donor base and fans and get them to hear our side of the information,” Byrne said. As for scheduling a game to replace the “no contest,” Byrne said it hasn’t been discussed yet.

Q: Until the umps arrive and declare “play ball”, either team can decide not to play?
A: Say hello to Mr. Loophole. Byrne said he’s been in discussions with the SEC about the rule, but “right now it’s a baseball rules committee that needs to be addresssed. To be honest, they just don’t think they ever considered this to be a possibility. And understandably.”

Q: Why is the SEC Tourney in Tampa and why is the site changing?
A: Apparently, Tampa just made the best bid. And it’s always rotated, maybe just not this often. Here’s what MSU coach Rick Stansbury thinks about it: “For us, there’s nothing positive about Tampa. … It’s probably the worst venue we could have, from the standpoint of distance.”

Q: Who scheduled the Hawaii baseball matchup, Ron Polk or John Cohen? Will they make a trip to Starkville in 2010?
A: That’d be Polk. As for Hawaii coming to Starkville, team spokesman Joe Dier said MSU is “working on it.”

Q: What major non-conference matchups, after Georgia Tech, are being discussed for upcoming football seasons?
A: Byrne: “Nothing we’re willing to release right now, but we have some contracts we’re going back and forth on with our schools. Some home-and-homes and two-for-ones (two in Starkville, one at the other place).” He said one possible opponent was wanting a $1.5 million guarantee. Uh, no, said Byrne. So what kind of teams is MSU in discussions with? “They’re all Division I football schools,” he said. Well, there you go.

Q: With the new ESPN deal, will all SEC football games that are not picked up by CBS be available on ESPN360? What about basketball games?
A: ESPN360, ESPNU, ESPNGamePlan – you’ll be able to find it somewhere. Every game, in league play, at least.

Blog Bag, & A New Web Site

March 2, 2009

Time to drop in your Blog Bag questions. Surely we can do better than four this week.

Also need to let you know about the Daily Journal’s new Web site, NeMs360.com. We’re in a transition phase right now from djournal.com, so content is appearing on both sites and will continue to do so for a little while longer. The new site is still in Beta (test) mode, so you won’t get the full experience of what it will become. The Web team, led by Todd Vinyard, will incrementally add features and such to the site over the coming weeks as we phase it in, so as to ease everyone into the change. Going to be pretty cool when all is said and done.

As for this blog, it’ll be moving, too. NeMs360.com will eventually become the host. That transition should happen by the middle of the month. I’ll keep you posted.

Speaking of blogs, the new site allows you to create your own. Just create a profile and go for it. It’s a very interactive site. Any questions, you can e-mail Todd at todd.vinyard@djournal.com, or ask me and I’ll pass it along. Thanks for reading, people.

Blog Bag Answers: ‘Definite Maybe’

February 27, 2009

Wow, y’all used all your ammo in January and early February, I guess. Only four questions this week, but I’ve got four pretty good answers for you. Here you go.

Q: Any word on when merchandise with the new logo will be available? Also, will we will wearing the new helmets/jersey for the spring game?
A: It’s already available in some stores. As for the new unis and helmets in the spring game, AD Greg Byrne told me today, and I quote: “Definite maybe.”

Q: Basketball season thus far: exceeded expectations or major letdown? And to improve , what do we need to recruit?
A: If you go by preseason predictions, which had MSU finishing fourth in the Western Division, you’d obviously have to say the Bulldogs have exceeded expectations. And I’d agree. A freshman point guard, little (healthy) post experience besides Jarvis Varnado, no on-floor senior leadership – I think it’s amazing that MSU has been in so many of the games it’s lost, not to mention the ones it’s won. As for what needs to be recruited, see the next question.

Q: Considering that we are a little thin with the big men, does coach Rick Stansbury plan on signing any with this recruiting class or in the near future?
A: Shaunessy Smith, though not a big man, is a big signing for MSU. As for low-post guys, I have to defer to GenesPage.com, the school’s Scout.com site, which lists only one player who kind of fits in that category – Kendrick Washington, a 6-foot-6, 268-pound senior from Shreveport.

Q: There have been a few football players from around the country who have come out and said that they will be transferring, and I was just wondering if you knew if any of them were considering coming to play for us?
A: Don’t count on it. Quarterback Robert Marve (Miami) is expected to make a decision in April among Oklahoma State, South Florida, Texas Tech and UCLA. Florida’s a possibility, too, but probably as a walk-on. Patrick Witt (Nebraska), like Marve a backup QB, is not mobile and therefore not a great fit for Dan Mullen’s spread offense. I’m not sure who else of note is transferring, so please enlighten me.

Blog Bag: Bring It, Brother!

February 23, 2009

I’m feeling kind of Chuck Norris this week, so please, send me your best questions. Any weak ones will get a roundhouse kick to the face, brother! Yeah, I’m feeling a little Hulk Hogan, too. I obviously need to cut back to one cup of coffee per day. Brother!

New Header!

February 21, 2009

As you can see above, I have a new blog header, courtesy of Matt Williams of Starkville. And there’s more where that came from. Matt used his mad Photoshop skills to work up seasonal headers along with general ones, so you might see me swapping them out now and then.

Your thoughts are welcome. And thanks again, Matt.

Blog Bag: Small but Diverse

February 20, 2009

Only six questions this week, but we managed to cover something about all three major sports. So that’s good. Anyway, here we go.

Q: How long should it take for a new coach and his new attitude, techniques, etc., to show a improvement since he is basically working with same talent who were already playing for an intelligent coach. How quick does a new attitude/zeal/discipline show up?
A: Good question. First, on baseball coach John Cohen: If you read my overview or some of the player quotes on this blog, you noticed that there has already been a change. Communication is better, chemistry is better, and all the players seem to have bought into Cohen’s style of play. Now, as for how quickly that will translate into wins is another question. Put it this way: I don’t think my June vacation plans are in any great danger. But, MSU ought to have enough talent to be consistently competitive.

As for football coach Dan Mullen: Obviously there’s a ton of excitement, but it’s too soon to gauge how the players will react to Mullen’s style. I don’t mean the offense – I’m sure they’ll love that – but the offseason and spring work. It’s going to be very, very tough, Mullen has said. If the Bulldogs can come out of that better and stronger, then as with the baseball team, expectations should be tempered, but prepare for some pleasant surprises.

Q: Why does Jarvis Varnado have so much trouble blocking shots and layups from smaller players?
A: I thought dadwithpride provided a well-reasoned answer, and there’s not much I can add to that. Perhaps on a psychological level, other big men might let their pride keep them from playing Varnado as smartly as smaller players would. And there are so many altered shots that don’t show up in the stat book.

Q: Where are they planning on building the new basketball practice facility?
A: I’ll directly quote Gregg Ellis: “In the front of the building, like you were going to the soccer field. Right where the big tree is.”

Q: What is the latest on Antwon Dixon, Anthony Dixon’s little brother. I know he played two years at Hinds CC, but he didn’t sign with us. Was it because he didn’t have the grades or other reasons?
A: Steve Robertson of Scout.com told me that Dixon, a safety who originally signed with MSU in 2007 but didn’t qualify academically, is trying to finish up some hours at Hinds and will then head to Shaw University, a CIAA school in North Carolina. I haven’t been able to confirm if he’s actually signed yet with Shaw.

Q: Is offensive lineman John Paul Alford out of football?
A: I don’t know why he would be. He was redshirted last year.

Q: Can you give some more details on the depth of the offensive line? From last year’s roster I count six players with at least 10 games played, 15-17 linemen overall (4 seniors, 4 juniors, 5 sophomores, 2 redshirt freshmen, and the 2 signees). Is this correct?
A: With Michael Gates and Anthony Strauder gone, your numbers for the coming year agree with mine. Two of the 16 returning linemen were redshirted, and there were two signees. As for last season, nine different linemen drew at least one start, and 10 linemen saw some sort of playing time.

Praising Jay Miller, & Softball, Too

February 20, 2009

In today’s Journal is a story I wrote about Mississippi State softball coach Jay Miller, who earlier this week was selected to be head coach of the U.S. national team for the next four years. Miller has a wealth of experience and success on his résumé, having worked with the national program since 1992. He helped select the first U.S. Olympic softball team, which won gold in 1996. But there will be no Olympics for Miller and the U.S. team to look forward to, thanks to the IOC’s curious decision in 2005 to vote the sport out of the 2012 Games.

If I can get up on a soapbox for a moment, that decision was a joke. Maybe I’m a bit biased, having grown up around the sport. My two sisters played, and my dad co-founded a United States Fastpitch Association youth league in Ruston, La., about 20 years ago. When I covered high schools for the Daily Journal, fast-pitch was easily my favorite girls sport to cover. (An aside: I was stunned when I moved here to learn that slow-pitch was actually a varsity-level sport. Seriously?) When played by folks who know what they’re doing, softball is a crisp, fast-moving game. Obviously, the only reason the IOC jilted it was “the whim of politics,” as Miller put it. In other words, nobody liked how dominant the U.S. was, which makes the fact that Japan beat the Americans in the Beijing gold medal game last summer quite ironic.

Anyway, Miller’s Lady Bulldogs are 6-2 heading into this weekend’s Bulldog Classic. Here’s a quick update on the team.

Blog Bag: Late Edition

February 16, 2009

Hey, it’s still officially Monday. So drop your questions in. Like, now. I’m fixin’ to go to bed.

Various & Sundry Items

February 16, 2009

We talked with Rick Stansbury and some of his players this afternoon, but first a few items of note from campus. The big news today is softball coach Jay Miller being named head coach to the U.S. national team. That’s a gig that runs up to and through the 2012 Olympics – problem is, softball will not be in the London Games. That could change for 2016, so Miller will be a huge part of the effort to get the IOC geniuses to change their minds. The U.S. won the first three gold medals in Olympic softball but lost to Japan last year in Beijing.

Nevertheless, a great honor for Miller, who has worked with the national team before as an assistant. He led the Junior National Team to gold in the 2007 Junior World Championships. He’s been a winner everywhere he’s gone; on Friday, he became MSU’s all-time leader in wins with 223. More on Miller later in the week.

MSU’s baseball season opener on Friday, against Northern Illinois in the BankFirst Challenge, has been moved up an hour to 5 p.m. More sunshine is good. That baseball preview I promised will not, it turns out, run in tomorrow’s Journal. But it will run this week.

Stansbury said today that junior Jacquiese Holcombe has been reinstated to the team. Holcombe, a 6-foot-6 forward, was suspended indefinitely on Jan. 29 for unspecified reasons. He hadn’t been playing anyway due to a leg injury; his last action was Dec. 18 against Cincinnati.

MSU (16-9, 6-4 SEC) hosts South Carolina (18-5, 7-3) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Can you guess who I’ll be writing about in my game advance? Yeah, Devan Downey, the Gamecocks’ stud point guard, who’s third in the SEC in scoring (19.9 ppg) and third in assists (4.4). I asked Phil Turner what he knows about South Carolina. “That’s all I hear about, is Downey. I’m pretty sure they have other great players, but Downey’s the one you think about when you think about South Carolina,” Turner said.

There was a lot of Downey talk today, but I’ll save most of it for Wednesday’s story and tie it into State’s recent defensive struggles.

Blog Bag Answers: Short & Sweet

February 13, 2009

It seems y’all used up all your questions the two previous weeks. That’s OK, as the fourth one required a doozy of an answer (thanks, spear). And please, feel free to offer your thoughts on that question. Y’all probably know more about some of these young redshirts and sophomores than I do. Anyway, here we go.

Q: What’s the latest on Kodi Augustus?
A: Augustus is simply a role player right now, and his role is to give starters a short break. He’s played in two of the last four games and has seen action in three SEC games (14 minutes total).

Q: With the change to adidas, will MSU’s baseball uniforms change? If so, can you get a visual?
A: Supposedly, there will be a new look for this season, but adidas won’t be outfitting the Bulldog baseball team until next season. I saw where SixPack had a rendering of the 2009 unis, but I don’t know how accurate it is.

Q: What will be done to improve the offensive line next year?
A: I address that some below. There is plenty of depth, but the problem will be finding an adequate starting five, which the Ole Miss game, more than any other game, showed was a tough task last year.

Q: I realize it might be tough to do given the new system and all, but you give us your projected starters and/or players to watch?
A: I won’t do all positions specifically, but I’ll try to give you an idea on, for example, the offensive line. Here we go.
OFFENSE
QB – Starter: Tyson Lee, Sr. Player to Watch: Tyler Russell, Fr. Lee’s experience and smarts give him an advantage, and with a new system being put in – one that I think will better utilize Lee’s skills than the West Coast did – it’d be good for Russell to sit back and watch. But with almost no depth at the position, he’d better be ready to step in.
RB – Starter: Anthony Dixon, Sr. Players to Watch: Robert Elliott, So.; Montrell Conner, Fr. If coach Dan Mullen can put enough speed around him, Dixon could thrive in his power back role. No more dancing, though.
FB – Starter: Arnil Stallworth, Sr. Player to Watch: William Shumpert, Fr. Stallworth, who’s swift for a fullback, proved a valuable asset in the passing game last season.
TE – Starter: Marcus Green, So. Player to Watch: Nelson Hurst. Green is the perfect tight end for the spread, because he’s both big and fast. Now, if he can just stay healthy.
WR – Starters: Leon Berry, Jr.; Brandon McRae, Sr.; Delmon Robinson, So. Player to Watch: Chad Bumphis, Fr. Berry is an instant-impact kind of guy.  I see McRae, who was slow to begin with and now is recovering from a broken leg, as a possession receiver, a third-down option. Bumphis could eventually be the Percy Harvin of this offense.
OL – Tough to say, but experience returns in J.C. Brignone, Craig Jenkins, Mark Melichar, Quentin Saulsberry and Derek Sherrod. But I’m sure Mullen will have an open competition, so guys like Phillip Freeman, Templeton Hardy and Chris Spencer will get a shot. This unit will be the biggest concern this year.
DEFENSE
DL – Juco transfer Pernell McPhee gives MSU an immediate pass-rushing threat, something that didn’t exist last year. I’m curious to see how Sean Ferguson, a sophomore, will develop at end. Inside, Kyle Love and LaMarcus Williams are serviceable.
LB  – Starters: Juco transfer Chris White was pegged by Sylvester Croom as the man in the middle, which means moving Jamar Chaney back outside, which was his original position. That should hold, and you’ve got to like having K.J. Wright on the other side. Strength of the defense right there.
CB – Starters: Good question. Juco transfer Maurice Langston, perhaps? Damein Anderson and Marcus Washington have experience, and I wouldn’t be shocked if Arceto Clark was returned to defense.
SafetiesZach Smith brings experience and grittiness, and Charles Mitchell showed great promise as a freshman.
SPECIAL TEAMS
It’s all about the new guys. Juco transfers Sean Brauchle (kicker) and Heath Hutchins (punter) ought to win those jobs.

Blog Bag: Wide Open

February 9, 2009

Thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you? It’s just been a busy day, that’s all. So go ahead, drop your questions in the Blog Bag and I’ll provide answers by Friday. By the way, I have a column coming tomorrow about how big Wednesday’s game against LSU is in regards to postseason hopes, as well as a feature on the Lady Bulldogs’ trio of players from the Congo. Stay tuned.

Blog Bag Answers

February 6, 2009

Yes, yes, I have promised you an update on the progress of running back Robert Elliott (knee) and receiver Brandon McRae (broken leg). I have tried, unsuccessfully, the last two days to speak with a trainer about the situation. However, coach Dan Mullen addressed Elliott’s situation when asked by a fan during Wednesday’s Signing Day pep rally. Mullen said Elliott is training hard, makes every workout, and is making good progress. He’s not yet able to do as much as his healthier teammates, so he’s spending more time on the bike.

More details as I get them, I swear. Now to this week’s questions, and thanks to AD Greg Byrne for again providing some answers.

Q: Regarding the long-term master plan, are there any specific plans for the new basketball coliseum?
A: Byrne says there are no plans for a new coliseum right now.

Q: What is the earliest date any of the high school recruits can start practicing with the team?
A: Early enrollees can start in the spring, everyone else must wait until August drills. There are summer workouts, of course.

Q: With the changes to dates, times, and list of events for Super Bulldog weekend, has there been an itinerary of the weekends festivities created?
A: Hog roast Friday night, baseball at 1 p.m. Saturday, spring game at 5 p.m.

Q: When will package tickets to Super Bulldog Weekend be available?
A: No packages for sale. You can buy baseball tickets online, and there is no admission for the spring game.

Q: Is Coach Mullen planning on paying a visit to Birmingham to speak to the alumni here? If so, when?
A: Spring engagements are being worked on right now and should be announced in the coming weeks.

Q: Dan Mullen has mentioned that he thinks Matt Balis is the best strength coach in the nation. Do you see some of these “WR/athletes” being converted to LB (or other positions) with a year or two in the weight room?
A: Mullen said Wednesday that some of the receivers or safeties could be moved to cornerback. As for linebacker, most of those kids aren’t very tall, so I don’t know about that. Safety Dennis Thames played linebacker in high school, so there’s a possibility.

Q: In church work you plan to build when you’re at 80 percent capacity. How do current/projected ticket sales relate to seating capacity at The Hump and other on-campus venues?
A: Says Byrne, “The demand on the ticket is critical. You don’t want to overbuild where there isn’t the pressure to buy season tickets. Until we’re at capacity for a long period of time to where we’re not only selling our tickets but we have a very high percentage of usage each game, we would not consider expanding. And if we did expand, the price of construction has escalated so dramatically, in order to do it you’d have to add high-end seating.”

Q: Will the new uniforms be “unveiled” at the Spring Game?
A: Byrne: “We’ve decided that we will have uniforms next year.” Hey, the man’s got a sense of humor. He said there is not a set date yet. I told him about the rendering of the new uniform that’s popped up on the Six Pack board; he was not aware of it, but I’m sure he is now.

Blog Bag

February 2, 2009

Despite the busy week ahead, I will attempt to answer whatever questions y’all might have. Keep in mind that the answers don’t come until Friday, so any questions about football recruiting, for instance, could be rendered moot Wednesday.

Now, I’m going to bed so I can get up in time for my 5:45 a.m. flight out of Columbus. Ugh.

Blog Bag Answers … Finally

January 31, 2009

Finally, here it is, this week’s answers to your questions. But let us begin with some excerpts from an interview I conducted with AD Greg Byrne on Friday. I asked him some questions y’all had about video boards and uniforms and such.

Byrne said the football video board should have all the finishing touches put on it by the spring game, which is April 18. As for the baseball board, it has HD capability, but the games won’t be shot in HD this year because the control room is not yet HD compatible. Byrne said the plan is to streamline the video boards. “Eventually what we’ll do is we’re going to combine our baseball and basketball production room with our football production room, and just run a fiber optic cable and have it in one central location, and move all the HD equipment in there.”

I asked him about having ribbon displays in the football stadium, but he said that’s way down the priority list right now.

Now, the uniforms. Byrne said the school and Adidas are still trying to decide when the unveil them. “They look great,” he said. “Lot of trim. I mean, they look good. They look sharp. … I think no matter your taste, I think you’ll be OK with it.”

Now, on to the rest of the questions.

Q: Though it’s early in the SEC season, looks like the West winner has a better than average shot at the SEC title since the West teams play each other twice and the East teams once. Kentucky, Florida and Tennessee may end up beating each other up with the “best” in the west having a better SEC record. Thoughts?
A: The SEC West’s only hope, right now, to win the overall is LSU. Mississippi State, despite that loss to Ole Miss, should make some noise (and so will those Rebels). Hard to say which division is better, because neither impresses me much right now.

Q: Call some of these commits and ask them what they expect of themselves.
A: Well, I got Tyler Russell. Hope that suffices for now: “I think that this class that we’re getting right now, if everybody stays together and everybody signs and we do go to State, I think it’ll be one of the best classes Mississippi State has had in a long time, if not the best. All of us know each other and we played together in the all-star game, and I think it’s going to work out real good. I’m looking forward to it.”

Q: When does the new merchandise go on sale?
A: See last week’s Blog Bag.

Q: What would you do for a Klondike Bar?
A: Shave my head. Oh, wait …

Q: What’s the status on Brandon McRae?
A: I keep getting this question, and I’m sorry I don’t have an answer yet. I pinkie swear I’ll find out first thing next week.

Q: How’s Robert Elliott’s rehab going?
A: See above answer.

Q: With the commitment of Billy Hamilton, could this be a trend of multisport athletes at MSU?
A: I wasn’t able to get ahold of John Cohen, so I’ll have to let all baseball questions carry over to next week. But at this level, you won’t see this happen often.

Q: Josh Boyd will help, but might we see an offensive lineman converted to give us more size/depth in the middle of the defensive line?
A: Coach Dan Mullen said he hasn’t spent any time worrying about positions and such. But I don’t think the offensive line can afford to give up anyone.

Q: When does spring practice begin for the football team?
A: March 23 or 24.

Q: Is Rockey Felker on the new coaching staff or not? Does he have some other role in the athletic department?
A: Mullen hasn’t yet established specific roles for everyone, but Felker’s on the staff, and he was introduced with the rest of them at halftime of a basketball game a few days ago.

Q: What does a typical recruiting weekend consist of, and how does Dan Mullen differ from Sylvester Croom in that aspect, if any?
A: Can’t tell you how they differentiate, but basically, they tour the campus and facilities, go to a basketball game – where they are paraded in front of the fans, as they were today – meet with academic people and president Mark Keenum. And eat. A lot. Two weeks ago, recruits were shown something on the big video board that got them fired up.

Blog Bag Postponed

January 30, 2009

In short, today got away from me. Heck, I’m still waiting on my supper at IHOP. Anyway, rest assured I will have a Blog Bag for y’all, but not until Saturday night. Thanks for your patience.

Blog Bag: Reloaded?

January 26, 2009

Y’all have done a great job of hitting me with tons of questions this month. Makes me wonder if there’s anything left in the chamber. Hit me.

Blog Bag Answers Aplenty

January 23, 2009

Y’all filled this week’s Blog Bag to overflowing, and I did my darndest to provide satisfatory answers. Can’t say I hit 1.000 on that, but some questions will be more precisely answered in time. On with it:

Q: Any update on the indoor basketball practice facility?
A: Athletics director Greg Byrne: “We’re making progress. The goal is still to try to get it going after the season. But like many others, we’ve felt the impact of the economy.”

Q: Any update on the expansion of Humphrey Coliseum, Dudy Noble Field or Davis Wade Stadium?
A: Byrne: “Right now we’re trying to finalize a master plan for all of our facilities.”

Q: What are the chances of the Dudy Noble bleacher stands all being made chairbacks?
A: Byrne said if that happens, it’ll be worked out in the aforementioned “master plan.”

Q: Is there any chance new president Mark Keenum puts a stop to this crazy logo change?
A: Logos are all set. If you haven’t seen them yet, here they are: mississippistate-logo-usage3.

Q: Have you had the chance to interview Dr. Keenum on his take on all that has happened in the athletics department?
A: Not yet, but I want to soon. He’s so busy, though, our news editor hasn’t even been able to secure an interview with him yet.

Q: How are things with baseball coach John Cohen and the team? I’ve seen them practice a little this winter.
A: I haven’t spoken with Cohen lately, but I’m going to try to catch up with him next week.

Q: What is the word on the pitching rotation and starting lineup for the baseball team?
A: I’ll let you know what I find out when I talk to Cohen.

Q: What was that video that was playing on the MooTron before the Vandy game?
A: Didn’t see it. Something for the recruits, I heard.

Q: When are they gonna schedule alternative uses of the new video board (movies, etc.)?
A: Byrne said that hasn’t found its way up the priority list yet, so nothing to report.

Q: Who do you think would just complete the puzzle for us in football?
A: One word: Quarterback. And an offensive line. And a pass rush. And speedy wideouts. And a reliable kicker. Dude, there are lots of issues.

Q: When will we ever see Mississippi State with a winning football team?
A: If you’ve seen me try to predict games, you’ll know my opinion on that is worthless, so I won’t bother.

Q: I keep hearing football coach Dan Mullen is expected to pull out one or two more key recruits before signing day. Who’s left that has State on their list? We’re at 23 commits, how many more can we sign?
A: State can sign 25 this year. I don’t know who Mullen is looking at most closely – he obviously can’t tell us – but we might can draw clues from a by-position breakdown of current commitments (star ratings from Rivals.com):
• QB: Tyler Russell, Meridian HS (4 stars)
• RB: Darius Slay, Brunswick, Ga., HS (2 stars); LaDarius Perkins, St. Joseph HS (3 stars); Montrell Conner, Ouachita Parish, La., HS (4 stars); William Shumpert, Itawamba AHS (3 stars)
• WR: Chad Bumphis, Tupelo HS (4 stars); Leon Berry, East Miss. CC (3 stars); Maurice Langston, East Central Miss. CC (4 stars); Chris Smith, Meridian HS (3 stars)
• OL: Gabriel Jackson, Amite Co. HS (3 stars); Sam Watts, Salem HS (Conyers, Ga., 3 stars)
• DE: Pernell McPhee, Itawamba CC (4 stars); Johnathan McKenzie, Starkville Aca. (2 stars); Fletcher Cox, Yazoo City HS (4 stars)
• DT: Josh Boyd, Philadelphia HS (4 stars)
• LB: Chris White, Miss. Gulf Coast CC (4 stars); Deontae Skinner, Noxubee Co. HS (3 stars)
• DB: Dennis Thames, Louisville HS (3 stars); Nickoe Whitley, Provine HS (3 stars); Johnthan Banks, East Webster HS (3 stars); Cameron Lawrence, Magnolia Heights HS (3 stars)
K: Sean Brauchle, Miss. Gulf Coast CC (3 stars)
P: Heath Hutchins, Itawamba CC (3 stars)

Q: Are there any more offensive linemen in our sights for the few remaining scholarships?
A: At least a couple of linemen have been offered by State but haven’t committed: Olive Branch’s Aubrey Phillips, who according to Scout.com has given Tennessee a soft verbal; and Randall Fowler of Banneker (College Park, Ga.). It would make sense to get a couple more linemen.

Q: Any word on Pat Patterson (Noxubee County WR) coming to MSU?
A: Nothing solid, but a story I linked up in my previous post has a Rivals.com dude saying he thinks Patterson is coming to Starkville.

Q: How do coaches decide how many scholarships to offer above the limit?
A: I’ll ask Dan that question whenever I can get him on the phone.

Q: What coaches did Mullen keep from Sylvester Croom’s staff?
A: Rockey Felker, Melvin Smith, Reed Stringer and David Turner.

Q: When are you going to change the header on this blog page?
A: When somebody makes me one. I got no Photoshop skills.

Q: What is the meaning of life?
A: Cashews.

Q: Twenty wins in basketball used to be a lock for the NCAA Tournament. Still so? If not, how many, and do you see MSU getting there?
A: MSU is 13-6 (3-1 in SEC) with 12 games left, plus the SEC tourney. I’d say at least – at least – eight more wins plus a strong tourney run. Winning the West sure wouldn’t hurt.

Q: I heard that Leo Seal Jr. left the athletic department a sizable gift when he passed away in November. When will this gift be announced, and what are the plans for the donation?
A: I’ll go with imabulldog’s answer: “Think it’s private, and by that I mean assigned to cover expenses concerning the coaching staff and changes needed. I may be wrong, though.” I’ve heard nothing on an announcement.

Q: Any chance that the club hockey team gets more support, or is this a dead issue due to Title IX?
A: Byrne said that the foreseeable future holds no change in the team’s club status.