March 12, 2009
STARKVILLE -- Change is in the air at Mississippi State, and soon it will be on the backs of the Bulldogs.
With the contract with Russell Athletics expiring, MSU plans to turn to adidas as the school''s clothing outfitter.
The Bulldogs are anticipating good things from the new look when the transition takes place.
MSU Athletic Director Greg Byrne has had good dealings with adidas in the past, and he believes switching to that brand is the best move for the school''s teams.
"We went out into the marketplace to see what was the best opportunity," Byrne said. "They do an excellent job of servicing schools that are involved with it. We feel they will give us the level of service and quality of merchandise that we want to represent Mississippi State."
Byrne said a contract hasn''t been signed and terms of an agreement are being worked out. He plans to release more information and adidas will be involved when the deal becomes official.
It was a good news, bad news situation for MSU women''s track performer Marrissa Harris last week.
Harris was named to the 2009 Indoor Track All-Southeastern Conference team after a second place finish in the pentathlon and fifth place in the 60-meter hurdles at the SEC Indoor Championships in Lexington, Ky.
Despite those high finishes in a competitive conference, Harris didn''t qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships Friday and Saturday in College Station, Tex.
Harris said nationals takes from 14 to 18 participants and she was just edged out at 19.
With the outdoor season beginning on March 21 at the Rhodes College Invitational in Memphis, Harris is ready to move on to the next challenge.
"I just missed nationals," Harris said. "I''m already motivated whether I would have gone or not. It creates a better foundation so I can improve on the things I did not do so well in."
Harris was proud of herself during the indoor season and glad the team was able to set records in scoring.
Still, she feels there is room for improvement before the outdoor campaign starts.
"I can get better on a lot of small things like a better technique on the high jump or get a faster time in the 800," Harris said. "We also have the 200 and javelin in the outdoor season so those are events I can score in."
Men''s tennis coach Per Nilsson knows MSU can have a successful program.
During his playing career with the Bulldogs from 1991-94, Nilsson was the co-captain for a team that reached the semifinals of the NCAA Championships in his senior year.
Nilsson played for coach Andy Jackson and was an assistant at Pepperdine for five seasons.
"He understands the great history and passion that makes up our program," Byrne said. "He will be leading it to new heights."
Nilsson returned to coach his alma mater last season and his first team finished with a dual-match record of 8-12. The previous year, the Bulldogs were 7-14.
Nilsson said he won''t be satisfied until MSU gets back to elite status in the nation.
"We didn''t come here to improve just a little bit," Nilsson said. "We came here to win it all. We were close to doing that when I was here and I can''t see why we can''t do it now. We''ve got some players in that we are real excited about. We''ve just got to work hard."
The Bulldogs, who make the trip to Auburn Friday and Alabama Sunday, lost a pair of 5-2 home decisions to SEC teams Tennessee and Georgia last weekend.
Nilsson was disappointed MSU did not play better in its first conference weekend, but it wasn''t due to a lack of confidence.
"We''re young, but pretty cocky," Nilsson said. "We feel like we should have won at least one of (the matches). We have to remember that we are a work in progress and are going to be really good. We see what we have and we get anxious and want to win right away."
In a light spring weekend for MSU sports, the women''s tennis team will play host to Auburn at 2 p.m. Friday and Alabama at 1 p.m. Sunday, while the women''s golf team travels to the LSU-Cleveland Classic this weekend. The softball team with SEC Freshman of the Week Ka''ili Smith will travel to Alabama for a doubleheader Saturday and a single game Sunday, while the baseball squad hosts South Carolina in its first SEC series of the season on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The men''s basketball team will watch the NCAA selection process Sunday to learn its postseason destination.
The women''s basketball team will learn its postseason fate Monday.