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So I went to the Mississippi State football game two nights ago. I had some expectations about the game. They were not realized. We only lost by three. Compared to last year’s game that is a huge improvement. But I left really unsatisfied and disappointed in the game. We’re obviously not as good as some thought. And Memphis might just be that bad. But Auburn isn’t all world either.

MSU has some improving to do. And I still am confident they can. But I’m still saying I’m really happy with a 6-6 season. We HAVE to steal a game from either LSU or Georgia in these next two. We’ll see.

But how I watched the game was pretty amazing. A friend with family connections had some primo tickets. He drove up from Mobile, AL and I met him at the game. Now I knew “club level” seats were nicer and all that. But I really had no idea.

To start off, you have really big tickets. You even put them around your neck on a lanyard. I don’t know if this is to show everyone how good your seats are or what, but anyway… So we went on into the stadium and got in line for the elevator to take us up to the upper levels. After a few minutes an event staff person walks up and asks us if we’re going to the Club Level. After we not he tells us we can go to this other elevator. No wait at all (it was still a little ways before kickoff, but the line was for the people going to the upper deck).

So we get up to the top and there’s another checkpoint to pass through. A lady scans our ticket and then gives us a wrist band. Hmm. That’s new to me. But it gives you access to everything up there.

So we walk on through and I notice how nice everything is. Classy decorated. Lots of whites, maroon, and wood. There are even rows and rows of wooden lockers. What are lockers for up here? Interesting.

And then there are leather chairs and big screen televisions and tables and tables of food. So even though I had cash in my pocket to buy overpriced hotdogs and candy, I could grab a plate, walk through the line, and get pasta or salisbury steak or shrimp/crab dip served to me. Since I’m not always good with decisions, I got a bit of each. Then there were the unlimited fountain drinks of Coke Zero. I mean, won’t they have Coke Zero in heaven?

And then there was the mountain of chocolate chip cookies as big as a pancake. I ate six of them. Yes, really. And there was fruit and cheese and there was still the regular hotdogs too (but you had to get them yourself instead of someone serving them to you.)

The seats were great. Only about 8 or 9 rows probably of seats up there. So in a time out you could go to the bathroom, wash your hands, refill your Coke Zero, grab another cookie, and be back to your seat before the game started back. Or you could have stayed inside in the air conditioning and watched a little of the Vikings/Saints game or the US Open or just watched the MSU game on ESPN…while eating more cookies. You could also sit at one of the tables inside and still watch the MSU game on the field live. I came in to make a phone call and was able to hear my call and watch the game quite easily. (Oh, and those lockers I mentioned, that is where people keep their “special beverages” that they’ll add to their Cokes.)

So, the game experience from Club Level spoiled me. It will never be the same. Though I’ll go watch a game at Scott Field from just about any seat if given the opportunity.

My wife will make fun of me for this because she says this is just about the same statement I make for about half of the games Mississippi State plays. But I’ll make it anyway: this ballgame tomorrow night against Auburn at home on ESPN is…..wait for it….HUGE!

But it’s true. To be plain about things, MSU has been quite a distance from a “good football team” for quite a while. Heck, we’ve not even gotten very close to average. Yeah, we did make it to a bowl game (and a win) back in 2007. And there was some hope that we were better than just okay. But then Croom showed his real skills the next season and got canned.

Last year we showed improvement over the year. And ended on a big high note after giving Ole Miss all they could handle (and more). But I knew not to get overly optimistic based on one game. But during the spring, and the summer, and fall practice the attitude of the players and staff still seemed to be trending upwards. I found myself getting cautiously optimistic.

But then last week happened. We killed Memphis. We scored 49 on them. Could have put up more. It was awesome. I know, I know…it was just Memphis. Who couldn’t beat Memphis? But here’s the thing. I think MSU teams of the past would have beaten Memphis. But something like 17-10 instead of 49-7. I’ve had people ask me, “Are yall that good, or is Memphis that bad?” Great question. Answer is probably a little of both.

We’re much improved. But we don’t have to wait long to really put it to a test. Tomorrow night Auburn comes to town. Last time they visited they only beat State by one point. Or you could say they almost doubled our score. Either way, it was 3-2. But I expect many, many more points to be scored at Scott Field tomorrow night. All eyes will be on Starkville. No better chance for Mississippi State to prove themselves now worthy.

I know they can. I hope they do. I’ll be there to watch.

During my absence I’ve been quite busy.

Yes, life has kept me on my toes with a few Christmas parties and family duties. But the main thing that has seemed to be on my mind was the coaching search at MSU. And after the “resigning” of Coach Croom the Satruday after Thanksgiving, the whole Bulldog Nation has been astir. But two days ago it seems we finally put the rumors and speculation to rest in the hire of Dan Mullen.

So maybe now my life can go back to semi-normal. I won’t have to be checking the message board and blogs and twitter feeds quite as religiously. It seemed I was a hawk for information, and a purveyor of it as well. I’d have people telling and asking info a lot. Now I guess we just figure out who the rest of the coaching staff and signees will be!

But that was partly to blame for the absence. The other parts were just staying busy with a family of five in the midst of holidays. Fun stuff. But I’m really looking forward to it. The tree is up, gifts are under the tree, some more gifts need to be bought, and weight is being put on I think.

But I’m back to blogging again. My wife checks here often and tells me “When are you going to post something new!?! (she asks the same of Pat‘s blog too), so I expect to flex the blogging muscles as we plow through the holidays and into a new year.

The Egg Bowl

11/28/2008

I thought I’d found some nice tickets to the Egg Bowl. Then I found some even nicer ones (they were free).

I really didn’t think MSU had much of a chance of winning. And I knew that Ole Miss had been steadily improving. Heck, they beat LSU @ LSU last week. But I didn’t expect what happened.

Ole Miss scored. Then got the ball back and scored. Then intercepted us and scored. Then scored again. And like that it was 24-0 at the end of the first quarter. Ole Miss totally dominated MSU today. I left at the half. Glad I did. It got worse. Ended up 45-0.

Now the question is what sort of changes will happen with the MSU coaching staff. Many say a complete overhaul needs to happen. Some say the coordinators need to go at least. Croom has a pretty good recruiting class coming in. Some think if he goes they won’t come. Who knows? Does it matter who your recruits are if there is not good coaching to manage them? And lastly, some consider a buyout clause to be too expensive.

No matter all the debating, my opinion is something needs to change. And change quickly.

mississippi-state

From my former youth group in Clinton there were quite a few graduating seniors that went to Mississippi State. It made me smile a little because that’s where I graduated from too. I absoutely loved my time there. Sometimes I wish I could do it again. I was only there for 4 semesters. I don’t know that I’d want to give up my previous 5 semesters at Northeast CC and USM, but to think of a full 4.5 year experience at MSU makes me smile. Heck, it might not have taken 4.5!

But lots of things have changed. I was telling one of these freshman about it the other day. Here are a few notable things I told her:

  • Online homework? I wonder how that works? When I was at good ole MSU there were no such things as WiFi. Or high speed internet. I had to go to a computer lab on campus to get on the web. My roommate had a computer a home and we could check email though. And it was all text based. The world wide web did start to come about. I was amazed.
  • Cell phones? I only knew one guy who had a cell phone. He thought he was cool. He was rich because he inherited a lot of money and spent it unwisely to try to feel good I think. We went to a basketball game really early because Kentucky was coming to town. [We actually went to a women's game before the men's game to get good seats. And had to wait for the women's game to start!] He ordered pizza from The Hump on his cell. He thought he was cool. I gave him a thumbs up and ate some pizza.
  • There was a bowling alley in the bottom of the Union. And a Taco Bell. And a Wendy’s. But no ChikFilA. I used to do homework in the union between classes sometimes. I remember gathering with a few hundred students between classes to see the OJ Simpson verdict on the tvs there. And watching football games on a Saturday eating a steak burrito supreme before walking to watch the Bulldogs get beat [happened a lot while I was there.]
  • Malfunction Junction was still there. Don’t worry. You wouldn’t miss it.
  • Jackie Sherrill was there. Some people miss him. Most don’t. I saw him at the movie theater in Starkville once. I was going to see Bad Boys. I think he and his wife had gone to the previous showing. He was dressed in all black.
  • SouthFarm was South Farm, not a bunch of intramural fields by the vet school. You could go relax or throw the frizz or camp out or whatever.
  • And the Wesley Foundation was as amazing as ever. Loved it and the people there. Some were just like me. Some were way different. But it was all good. I miss it.

I miss it all. And I’m slightly jealous of you, but super excited for you. Soak it all in. Write it down somewhere. Filter it all through God’s grace and mercy. And it will be some of the best times of your life. And it will pass quickly, so make the most.


butchButch Thompson
has been named the new pitching coach on John Cohen‘s staff for Mississippi State Baseball. I think it’s a great hire. Butch has been the pitching coach at both the University of Georgia and Auburn University for the last 6 or 7 years. He’s produced 20 drafted pitchers and very highly rated recruiting classes.

Butch is from Amory like me, so I’ve kept up with his career a little. I was hoping Ron Polk would have brought him to Starkville when Ron came back a few years ago. But it took a little longer than that. But Butch is glad to be back closer to home since his dad has been recently diagnosed with some illnesses.

This is a great hire for the Bulldogs. [And there is no relation between Butch and me.]

Here’s what I think happened and why things blew up:

polk

  • Years ago Polk retired. He’d had an associate coach on his staff who he named as head coach: Pat McMahon. Polk went to a different office on campus and became an Asst. AD
  • A couple of years later Polk takes a head coaching job at the University of Georgia.
  • A couple of years after that McMahon get an offer from the University of Florida and takes it. He wants to bring long time MSU assistant Tommy Raffo with him
  • Raffo decides to go to Florida with McMahon.
  • Larry Templeton (the AD at MSU) hires Ron Polk to come back to Starkville as the head coach of MSU.
  • Ron Polk has a meeting with Tommy Raffo (who is planning to go to Florida with McMahon) and convinces him to stay in Starkville.
  • [And here is where I think the turning point is] I THINK that Polk promised Raffo if he would stay at MSU, then Polk would set him up to be the head coach of the MSU Bulldogs when Polk retired. Raffo said “okay.”
  • But then there’s a new AD. And then there’s a very sub par season. And then it doesn’t look like Polk is able to name his successor like he did before.
  • Someone else gets hired. And that made Ron Polk become very pissed.

Now who knows if that is really how it happened. But it makes perfect sense.

The search ended a little earlier than some expected, but John Cohen is going to be the new head baseball coach at Mississippi State. He was a favorite candidate of lots of fans. But one who did not want to see him get the job was newly retired Ron Polk. He had made it clear months ago that he wanted current assistant coach Tommy Raffo to get the job. And when that didn’t happen he got pissed.

Polk threw a fit like that guy telling people to leave Britney Spears alone. Here are some of his words taken from Gregg Ellis’ blog:

Unfortunately, our new athletic director slapped me in face and punched me in the stomach. He also slapped Tommy Raffo in the face and punched him in the stomach after 15 years of loyalty to Mississippi State.

I want my name taken off the stadium and in the concourse until Greg Byrne is fired. And if they don’t do it, I will. And as soon as I get back to Starkville, I’m going to make sure the MSU Foundation is taken out of my will. And that’s a lot of money. I’m going to ask former players who give to quit.

Greg Byrne [new athletics director] doesn’t know anything. Well, he’s about to find out what my name means.

I love John, he’s a former player, but he knew how I felt. And when he walks into his new office, there will only be a desk and chair. No papers on the players or anything.

With this hire, Greg Byrne has thrown 15 years away of Tommy’s coaching life and the four years he has played here. Is he the best candidate, I don’t know. I say give him four years. If he doesn’t get the job done, then fire him.

Wow, does that not sound like someone with some major anger issues? Ron Polk has done tons for MSU Baseball and College Baseball in general. But I’m afraid of what this is going to do to his legacy.

But on the other hand, I’m excited about Cohan. Are you? Is it a good hire?

The Weekend

02/24/2008

So, yet another weekend is done for. Here’s a little of what took place:

  • Set up a new blog for a friend. Emily Witt is teaching school in Columbia and chasing after Jesus. Make sure you stop in and tell her hello and encourage her in her writing. You want her to write so you can read it. It’s good stuff.
  • Talked to a builder about a house he’s building in Oxford.  Building would be nice, but it would be at least a handful of months until we could move in. Ugh! We close on our Clinton house this Friday. So it’s time to start looking hard.
  • Got library cards in Oxford. So now we have a PO Box, bank account, and library cards. Are we citizens?
  • Got a membership at Blockbuster in Oxford. Later I’ll tell you how much I think I’m going to hate that Blockbuster.
  • Slept late twice. Got up early once.
  • Watched Mississippi State basketball stage an incredible last minute heroic comeback. Ben Hansbrough is the man. Totally. Oh, and Phil Turner too.  MSU has a decent shot at the Big Dance now. (Here is a nice article about Ben and his bro.)
  • Ate w/ the inlaw at Harvey’s. Not sure what I had, but it had steak, grits, onion rings, shrimp, and lots of BBQ sauce.
  • Drove to Oxford twice for church. Addison likes to go early and help with setup. Both services were good today. Got to meet some new people and reconnect with some old.

So, there it is. Now it’s time to go to bed… How was your weekend?

Back in Oxford

01/14/2008

After burning up the roads a little this past week/weekend I’m back in Oxford living out of my big Nike bag. I’m amazed at what all I can fit in there. But I really don’t mind living out of it. It’s not ideal, of course. But it’s where I am right now.

I pack it up each morning and usually don’t know til late afternoon or early evening where I’ll be unpacking it for the night. I guess there’s a sense of adventure to it all that way, huh?

But I think we’ve found a buyer for our house. Signed contract and all. There are a few things that a handy man needs to straighten up on the house before it is all said and done, but it is so amazing to be able to say we’ve got a bona fide buyer.

School is starting back up here at the University. So it should make things more interesting around town and campus. There were definitely more college students at church last night. Restaurants will be more crowded and traffic more clogged. But I look forward to it as well. It’s part of the character of the town. Yes, it’s Red and Blue. But that’s okay

I did get to go to Starkville on Saturday with The Fam. Got go to see a MSU basketball game. Man, I miss being able to see every home game. We won, but played pretty sloppy. But a win is a win.