Bulldogs learn early-season kickoff times

July 17, 2013 12:26:37 AM

Matthew Stevens - [email protected]


HOOVER, Ala. -- Mississippi State University learned the start time for the 2013 home opener Tuesday when the Southeastern Conference announced times for the first three weeks of the season. 


The Bulldogs will kick off the 2013 home football season at 2:30 p.m. against Alcorn State University on CSS. MSU will travel the following week to Auburn University, where the Bulldogs have only won once since 2000, in Week 3 for a 6 p.m. kickoff, with the game televised on ESPN/ESPN2 or ESPNU. 


Five of the Bulldogs' 12 games now have kickoff times set. Mississippi State kicks of the season at 2:30 p.m. in Houston on ABC/ESPN2 against Oklahoma State University in the Advocare Texas Kickoff at Reliant Stadium. State will also play a pair of ESPN Thursday Night contests, hosting the Univerity of Kentucky on Oct. 24 and the Egg Bowl against the University of Mississippi on Nov. 28. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. for both contests. 


"This is always, without question, the biggest game of the season for us," MSU coach Dan Mullen said of the Egg Bowl game vs. Ole Miss. "Playing on Thanksgiving night allows a national audience to see how important this game is in our state." 


n UF QB Jeff Driskel remains focused on football despite signing with Boston Red Sox: the first media question to University of Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel was about a sport he hasn't played in over three years.  


Driskel announced July 4 he had signed with the Boston Red Sox, who selected him in the 29th round of the 2013 Major League Baseball draft last month, but reiterated he is committed to finishing his college career with the Gators football program and pursing an NFL opportunity.  


"Sure, let's nip in the bud," Driskel said with a smile at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala. "Nothing else in my life changes. Hopefully football works out and I never have to play baseball again but it's nice to have a good backup plan from the Red Sox." 


The only stipulation to a future baseball career is he signed what Florida coach Will Muschamp and Driskel both called a "non-compete" clause that doesn't ever allow for him to be selected or signed by another professional baseball franchise. Driskel will not play minor league baseball in the Red Sox organization until he considers his football career is over.  


"Jeff came in my office after Boston drafted him and said 'Coach, this is the deal: They want to sign me (and) if I ever want to play baseball, I have to play for the Red Sox," Florida coach Will Muschamp said. "Haven't picked up a bat in two years and I have no intention of playing baseball, but they're willing to cut me a check (and) by NCAA rules, it's legal. I said, 'Jeff, if you were my son, I'd tell you to sign the contract'." 


Driskel has thrown for 1,794 yards and 12 touchdowns in two seasons, one as a full-time starter. The junior from Orlando also set a single-game school record for rushing yards by a quarterback (177).  


Driskel said he was hog hunting on the afternoon of the holiday with his girlfriend, who is a cheerleader at Florida, in Arcadia, Fla., when he saw the news of his selection on his phone.  


"I didn't know I was even eligible (for the draft) and barely had any cell service but had my draft tracker on to follow some of my buddies that were going to be picked," Driskel said. "They called me the next day to explain to me that they were willing to risk losing a 29th round pick to sign me." 


n Slive says hiring of Associate Commissioner Mark Whitworth was because "basketball did not meet expectations": SEC commissioner Mike Slive took the time to mention the sport on the hardwood Tuesday during football media days and it wasn't positive.  


Slive, who is in his 11th year of being the leader of the conference, stated that the two at-large bids to the 2013 NCAA tournament were unacceptable in the eyes of the league officials.  


"The fact that the SEC has won three of the last eight NCAA men's basketball championships....does not offset the fact that last year men's basketball season did not meet our high expectations," Slive said in his speech Tuesday afternoon.  


The SEC's solution was to hire Mark Whitworth, who will oversee the conference tournament, coordinate non-conference scheduling, prepare the conference schedule and work closely with media partners on basketball. 


Also Slive mentioned the league hiring former NCAA selection chairman Greg Shaheen as a consultant as it pertains to scheduling and how it affects the league's RPI ranking. 


All 14 schools must have their non-conference schedules ultimately approved by the SEC duo of Whitworth and Shaheen.  


"As I said in Destin, no one of our institutions is an island," Slive said. "Whatever one of our institutions does with scheduling affects all of us."