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Saban On SEC Network Time Commitments: “Can’t Be Increased”

gfx - they said itThe SEC officially announced the new SEC Network this week and while there are many battles to be fought, expect one of them to be over time demands on football coaches.  When the network launches in August of 2014, it will mean even more media attention, constant television cameras and hours of programming to fill each and every day.  Regardless of the changes, Alabama coach Nick Saban says he doesn’t have any extra time to devote to media-related duties.


“I think the time that we have to spend on media-related promotion, whether it’s coaches, student-athletes or whomever it is, it can’t be increased because we have other things that are important to do.”


Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze tells Brandon Marcello at he expects to do less interviews with reporters and fewer last-minute requests because of the network. “It’s about managing.”

This wouldn’t be the first time a television network clashed with a coach’s schedule.  Texas coach Mack Brown famously complained about the Longhorn Network last year, saying ”I didn’t ask for it.” The network taped the first 30 minutes of each practice which led Brown to worry that opponents were picking up valuable tidbits about the Longhorns.

Brown estimated he was spending six hours a week planning or participating in shows that air on the Longhorn Network.

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MSU’s Ray On Steele’s Suspension: He’s Screwing His Team

gfx - they said itWell, here’s a quote you don’t hear every day.  In case you missed it in our morning headlines, yesterday Brandon Marcello of The Jackson Clarion-Ledger asked Mississippi State coach Rick Ray about the indefinite suspension of Jalen Steele, one of the Bulldogs’ few scoring options.  Ray’s reply was to the point:


“Now you’re taking away a chance for guys to go out and compete and win because you’ve shortened the rotation.  I think more than anything you’re screwing your team and you’re screwing your teammates when you get into trouble like that.”


The junior guard apologized to fans via Twitter on Monday.  He is averaging nine points per game for the Bulldogs this season.

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More New Uniforms For MSU Football

Since Dan Mullen’s arrival at Mississippi State in 2009, the Bulldogs have been more than willing to shake things up on the uniform front.  First, they re-did their whole scheme top to bottom with new logos and secondary marks added to the brand.  Then came black jerseys (of course).  Matte-finish helmets were added last year.  And for the Egg Bowl, MSU donned maroon jerseys with gold numbers.

Get ready for more change.  According to AD Scott Stricklin’s weekly column on MSU’s website which was posted yesterday:  “Also this summer, we will be unveiling new 2012 Mississippi State football uniforms.  We will announce the time and place in upcoming weeks.”

It sounds like you can expect more changes in the future, too.  Mullen made it clear to Brandon Marcello of The Jackson Clarion-Ledger this week that he’s got no problem trying to create a buzz factor through fashion:


“We have a great marketing department, so who knows what we’ll come up with.  We’ll always come up with one shocking uniform every year, I’m sure.”


At this point, isn’t everybody?


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Talking Bulldogs with For Whom the Cowbell Tolls

Content provided by Razorback Expats.

To glean further insight into the mysteries of Mississippi State, we’re following up yesterday’s Brandon Marcello interview with a short Q&A with Jeremy Flint of SB Nation’s Bulldog blog, For Whom the Cowbell Tolls. Many thanks to Jeremy for his time.

Give us your take on the Dan Mullen hire. Has there been anything for Bulldog fans to complain about?

I think Dan Mullen was a huge hire for the football program. Here was a coach who was instrumental in Florida winning 2 SEC and National Championships in 2 years and helping to develop players like Tim Tebow. I think he is still a slam dunk coach and Mississippi State fans love having him as the coach. He has brought passion back to the program that was lacking during the later part of Croom’s tenure and has strengthened the rival with Mississippi by refusing to call them by name.

What’s more intimidating to an opposing player: a stadium full of cowbells or a stadium full of people calling the Hogs?

Definitely cowbells, but I am biased of course.

How much have you enjoyed Ole Miss’ difficult season?

Some Mississippi State fans, as they become older and wiser, begin to pull for The School Up North (TSUN) unless they are playing State. They say its better for the conference and better for the state of Mississippi. I am not one of those fans. I hate TSUN with a passion, and any difficulty they have in any sport only causes me more joy (within the confines of good sportsmanship, of course).

What’s your prediction for Saturday’s game?

Arkansas definitely has a killer passing game with 10 foot tall Ryan Mallet slinging the pigskin around. Our defense has been key to our success this year and our offense has been respectable at times. If we can run the ball efficiently and keep from turning it over, we have a chance to upset Arkansas on our home turf.

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Mississippi State Q&A with Brandon Marcello

Content provided by Razorback Expats.

Razorback fans are no doubt familiar with the work of Brandon Marcello, the former online sports editor for the Democrat-Gazette who crossed over to the dark side and became the Clarion-Ledger’s Mississippi State beat writer earlier this year. Although he no longer has the pleasure of covering Arkansas (except this week), his work remains a consistently excellent read, and we’re very happy to be able to present his insights on the Hogs-Dogs battle this weekend. Read below to get his expert take on this important game.

Many thanks to Brandon for taking time out of his busy schedule to share his thoughts here, and be sure to read more from him on the Clarion-Ledger’s MSU website and his always enjoyable Twitter feed. 

First off, an informal question: How are the new job and new city treating you? 

I’m loving it here in Starkville. A lot of new faces and places, and I love the people. Already have a few favorite restaurants.

Give us a brief overview of the strengths and weaknesses of this Mississippi State team.

State loves to run the football and no one has really been able to stop them this season. Even teams that know what MSU is going to do on offense can’t seem to stop ‘em. Look at that Florida game, for example. The Bulldogs ran the ball 49 times and threw the ball just once in the second half and that was on a shovel pass near the goal line. The weakness on offense, obviously, is the passing game. Chris Relf gets plenty of time to throw the ball but he’s sometimes a victim of his own prosperity back there in the pocket and he begins to hesitate and makes bad decisions with his throws. The offensive line is fantastic.

On defense, they’re as fast as they come in the SEC. If there is a weakness there, it’s the young secondary and teams (like Georgia) that have attacked deep down field have had some success moving the football. The key is MSU’s red zone defense.

How much of a distraction, if any, has the Cam Newton saga been to Dan Mullen and the Bulldogs?

None. What’s lost in all these headlines concerning Cam Newton is the death of Nick Bell. His passing in early November after a brief bout with cancer is affecting these players more than anything else off the field.

Speaking of Mullen: as an ink-stained wretch, how would you compare covering the Mississippi State head coach to Bobby Petrino?

Everyone wants to hear about comparisons and, really, there are none. Each has their own way of doing things but both do have one similarity: They have changed the culture at their respective programs.

Which Bulldogs and which Razorbacks are poised to have big games on Saturday?

Joe Adams. I’ve been on his bandwagon since the spring of his sophomore year. He could really hurt MSU in the middle of the field after the catch. I’ll also go with D.J. Williams at tight end. MSU will hurt ‘ya quick off the edge with LaDarius Perkins just as you’re getting comfortable with handling Vick Ballard between the tackles. I do think MSU needs to score points so Chad Bumphis could be poised for a big game at receiver.

You covered the Razorbacks for several years: Have you been at all surprised at how their 2010 season has unfolded, or is their performance in line with your expectations?

That Alabama loss dropped Arkansas off a lot of folks’ maps, honestly. Outside the state, people stopped talking about Arkansas. The Razorbacks had a shot there to be relevant and, as Arkansas fans have come to know over the years, they came THIS close but ultimately fell short. That can change, though, by winning out this season. If they can get to a BCS game, you have to consider that a fantastic success but it’s going to be tough and there are some things out of their control. Ultimately, they should have taken care of business against Alabama.

It also hurt losing to Auburn and allowing 65 points. Once that happened, the respect level from those across the nation dropped off the map. This four-game winning streak sure is nice, but the Hogs need to prove they’re for real. The South Carolina win was a nice start.

Final question: What’s your prediction for Saturday’s game?

MSU’s offense has to score some points to stay in this game and the Bulldogs can not allow several early touchdowns. Simply put, MSU’s offense is not equipped to play from behind. But Manny Diaz‘s defense is for real, guys. He’s done wonders for the Bulldogs and, as you can read in the paper Thursday, they’re ready for Arkansas.

That aside, you just can’t deny Ryan Mallett. I’ll go with Arkansas, 24-20. FYI: I’m awful at predictions.

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SEC Coaches Have MSU In Their Thoughts

Wednesday is SEC coaches’ teleconference day and with the death of Nick Bell still fresh in the news, many of the league’s head coaches offered their support and prayers to the Mississippi State program and Bell’s family.

Florida’s Urban Meyer said that he and Dan Mullen texted briefly about the situation.  Tennessee’s Derek Dooley said that his team was affected because one of his Vols played with Bell in high school.  Joker Phillips’ assistant David Turner actually helped recruit Bell to MSU.  And Houston Nutt recalled dealing with two deaths on his football teams.

Kudos to Brandon Marcello of The Jackson Clarion-Ledger for gathering so many of the coaches’ comments in one spot.

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BBL: UK Hoops ready to start; Grid Cats ready for State

Content provided by John Clay’s Sidelines.

(H-L photo/Mark Cornelison)

(H-L photo/Mark Cornelison)

Big Blue Links for Friday:


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Auburn Fans Have Newton’s Father To Thank… MSU Fans Have His Father To Blame

Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton is the focus of a feature story in Sports Illustrated’s November 1st edition.  Tiger fans will love it.  Mississippi State fans?  Well, they’ll likely be sickened by it.

Turns out, Newton wanted to play in Starkville.

“Last December the choice of which college to attend came down to two schools — Auburn and Mississippi State.  Newton preferred Starkville because of his close relationship with Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen, who had been Newton’s offensive coordinator at Florida.  But Cecil thought his son should choose Auburn, which had an experienced offensive line (four starters were returning) and was only a two-hour drive from Atlanta.  Newton let his father make the final decision, and a few days before Christmas, while sitting at the dinner table in his brother’s house in Jacksonville, Cecil Sr. uttered two words that would radically alter the college football landscape: ‘It’s Auburn.’”

And with that news, stomachs across the state of Mississippi turn.

SI’s profile of Newton is a good read, by the way.

Kudos to Brandon Marcello of The Jackson Clarion-Ledger for the tip.

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Cowbells Again The Hot Topic In Starkville

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of the cowbell saga in Starkville.

Last spring and summer, I defended State’s tradition, even though — unlike other traditions at other schools — it does impact the action on the field.  I supported the SEC’s decision to allow State to keep its bells if the school’s fans would simply stop using them to drown out opposing quarterbacks.

Of course, MSU fans wouldn’t play along.  So now I say yank the bells.  Sorry, but these same State fans would scream to high heaven if Kentucky fans were allowed to blow vuvuzelas before each and every Bulldog snap.  They would beg the league to intervene if Ole Miss had a tradition of smacking cymbals when their foes were on offense.

State fans had their chance to play nice.  They didn’t.  So tough noogies.

If someone is given a warning and he chooses to ignore it, then he’s earned his penalty.  Yank the bells.

State fans see it differently, of course.  According to Brandon Marcello of The Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Dan Mullen even tried to compare the cowbells to Ohio State’s Dotting-of-the-i tradition.  Uh, yeah, maybe if the OSU band ran onto the field and tried to dot the i while the Buckeyes’ opponent was on offense.

At least MSU’s coach tried to convince State students to “respect the bell” when he spoke before several hundred of them on Tuesday night. 

“We’ve got to do a good job of keeping within the conference rules that they’ve set up so we can keep one of college football’s great traditions.”

Sounds nice.  But when Kentucky is facing a third down in the first quarter on Saturday, you can bet the cowbells will start ringing.

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