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50 years later: MSU plans warm reception for 'cold' memory




Special to The Dispatch



STARKVILLE -- On a freezing afternoon in 1963, Mississippi State's football team blocked a punt and ran it in for a touchdown at the Bulldogs' first post-season appearance in 22 years. 


MSU went on to defeat North Carolina State, 16-12, in a victory remembered by many fans as much for the weather as the outcome. The weather that day in Philadelphia, Pa. -- the bowl game was later moved to Memphis -- was "colder than a pawnbroker's heart," as Voice of the Bulldogs Jack Cristil described it during the radio broadcast. Coffee was freezing in the press box, and ballpoint pens wouldn't write, Cristil later said. The temperature at the end of the game was just 15 degrees. 


However, the cold didn't stop the Bulldogs, and the 1963 Liberty Bowl continues to be one of the most memorable events in Bulldog football history. To commemorate the 50 years that have passed since that big win, MSU's Bulldog Club is sponsoring a Liberty Bowl reunion before the 2013 MSU Homecoming game on Saturday when MSU faces Bowling Green. 


The reunion celebration will begin at 3:30 p.m., and former players, family and friends will gather in the Junction at a tailgating tent next to the Alumni Association tent in front of the Leo Seal M-Club, said Ali Reardon, Bulldog Club graduate assistant. Former players will be recognized with gifts sponsored by Columbus artist Robert "Uncle Bunky" Williams. 


"We're going to enjoy getting to know these players and hearing their stories," Reardon said. "We're excited to have them all coming home for homecoming. We're keeping the tradition alive and getting these gentlemen together to show them we appreciate their time and contributions. 


"Getting them together will also allow them to be part of the future of Mississippi State football," she continued. "That future will certainly be something special, being built upon the storied past of the 1963 Liberty Bowl." 


Athletic Director Emeritus Larry Templeton agreed. He was still in high school when MSU faced NC State that freezing night, but he lived in Starkville and supported Bulldog football. 


"I remember watching that Liberty Bowl," he said. "It was certainly an exciting time and a big-time event. One big thing was how cold it was, but being in a post-season game and leading against North Carolina State on national TV was a humongous deal for Mississippi State. 


"I think that team set the bar for future teams because they showed that we could compete on the national level." 


It would be another 11 years before MSU would make it to a bowl game again, which resulted in a 26-24 win over North Carolina in the 1974 Sun Bowl game in El Paso, Texas.




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