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Our opinion: Save the bell




Another Mississippi football tradition is on the ropes. Many at Ole Miss are mourning the loss of "Dixie" and Col. Rebel (and some still mourn the banning of Confederate battle flags from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium). 


Now, it''s Mississippi State''s turn. Football fans'' unwillingness to silence their cowbells during game play, despite the pleadings of athletic officials, could lead to their ban from Davis Wade Stadium. 


Monday, the school revealed that the Southeastern Conference would fine them a yet-unrevealed amount for violating its ban on artificial noisemakers. 


The Bulldogs have been given a pass on this rule over the years, as the SEC bowed to 80 years of tradition by allowing the cowbells into the stadium. A trial crackdown on their conditional use began in earnest this year. 


And fans haven''t been living up to their end of the bargain. 


The fines, from violations from MSU''s two SEC home games against Auburn and Georgia, could range anywhere from $5,000 to $30,000. The fines will be announced at the end of the season. 


MSU fans are allowed to ring cowbells at Davis Wade Stadium during time-outs, before the game, after a score, or during half-time. Cowbells cannot be used while the clock is running. 


It''s crunch time for Mississippi State''s clanging cowbells. "These next two games are going to be critical for the future of the cowbell," MSU athletic director Scott Stricklin said this week. 


Mississippi State won''t be willing to accept fines forever, and the SEC''s patience is already worn hair-thin. If fans can''t silence their cowbells, the SEC will certainly ban them from the stadium. 


And that would be a shame. The rousing sound of thousands of clanging cowbells is a tradition unique to Mississippi State.  


It''s time for fans to realize what''s at stake here, and to save this last great Mississippi football tradition.



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