STARKVILLE — Travis Outlaw looked around the Starkville Sportsplex on Wednesday afternoon and smiled. The Starkville native and member of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers is proud the city has provided such a facility to the community. Outlaw and Ed LeBlanc, his personal coach, took advantage of the facility to focus on specific points of Outlaw’s game to help him prepare rejoin the Trail Blazers. Outlaw will leaves Starkville at the end of August to begin his sixth season in the NBA
HOOVER, Ala. — Nick Saban isn’t one to offer excuses. The University of Alabama coach praised quarterback Tim Tebow, coach Urban Meyer, and the rest of the Florida Gators for playing a great game in the 2008 Southeastern Conference Championship game. Saban didn’t blame his team’s loss to Utah in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2, 2009, to a “blinking light” otherwise known as offensive lineman Andre Smith. Instead, the third-year coach preferred Thursday to talk about how his “blue-collar team” was going to continue to try to “do the job” as best as possible to get back to Atlanta to win a SEC title and compete for a national championship.
HOOVER, Ala. — Remarkable is one way to describe the tone of Houston Nutt’s appearances the past two years at Southeastern Conference Media Days. The veteran coach, who led the University of Arkansas to three SEC Western Division titles and eight bowl games in 10 seasons, inherited an Ole Miss program that couldn’t go any lower. The Rebels won only three SEC games in three seasons under Ed Orgeron and were desperate to have something to care about in the fall. My how things changed last season.
If day one of the Southeastern Conference Media Days was an appetizer, the filet mignon served Thursday was a treat. Four of the SEC’s heavy hitters — Georgia’s Mark Richt, Alabama’s Nick Saban, Ole Miss’ Houston Nutt, and Florida’s Urban Meyer — were on hand to give their appraisals of the upcoming 2009 season. Each coach had a hot topic item to address, and the four programs should be the most interesting ones this season in the rough and tumble SEC.
The recruiting wars and the college admission process was different for Marcus Dent Sr. Twenty years ago, the former New Hope High School standout didn’t have Internet sites and recruiting services to help check his transcript and to assist him in his preparation for standardized tests like the SAT or the ACT. Still, Dent went on to play tight end at Alcorn State (1989-92) and was on a Southwestern Athletic Conference championship team.
HOOVER, Ala. –– The legal system may have to run its course before Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen will decide punishments for senior running back Anthony Dixon and sophomore tight end Marcus Green. Dixon was arrested last Saturday night in Starkville for driving under the influence of alcohol, careless driving and not having proof of insurance, while Green was arrested on July 15 for possession of marijuana. Mullen doesn’t anticipate handing out any punishment until the judicial process plays out.
HOOVER, Ala. -- Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen seemed to handle his first experience as a head football coach at Southeastern Conference Media Days just fine. Nothing seemed to faze Mullen on Wednesday afternoon at the Wynfrey Hotel or wipe the smile off his face. Mississippi State junior linebacker K.J. Wright said Mullen is always smiling and what the media saw was nothing new.
When the South Lamar football team released its schedule for the upcoming season, the only significance of its game against Marion County was it was a matchup of region rivals. But in June, the encounter between South Lamar and Marion County took on a much more significant meaning. That’s because Marion County, which is located in Guin, Ala., hired Rusty Funk to be its head football coach. Funk was South Lamar’s coach last season before being relieved of his duties and replaced by his assistant, Josh Harper.
The Mississippi State women’s soccer team’s recruiting success will be on display this week in Massachusetts. Two of MSU’s 11-player freshman class — Alex Kytan and Jasmine Simmons — will play for their respective club teams at the United States Youth Soccer Nationals in Lancaster, Mass. The Nationals begin Tuesday and conclude Sunday. They bring together the champions from each of the nation’s regions to crown a champion.
“Tyson Lee is serviceable, but not outstanding. His stature (5-foot-10, 200 pounds) was a clear obstacle at times (last year).” -- 2009 Athlon Sports preseason football edition. Statements like those in Athlon Sports preseason college football edition haven’t all been kind to incumbent Mississippi State quarterback Tyson Lee. Even with that, the senior from Columbus remains confident in his ability.
The road to Dizzy Dean World Series titles ended Sunday for two teams from the Golden Triangle. The Columbus Nationals 10-year-old All-Star team lost to Bill Bond Baseball (Pensacola, Fla.), and the Starkville Dawgs 12-year-old All-Stars lost to Irondale, Ala., 7-4. Both elimination games were played at the Tupelo Sportsplex. Columbus defeated Tupelo 14-1 Sunday morning in its first game in the losers’ bracket. LaQuinston Sharp hit two home runs, Tyler Anderson had a single and a double, Thomas Stevens had a single and two doubles, Kyle Cruthirds had two singles, and Logan Sneed had a double to help the Nationals earn their mercy-rule victory.
Barry Howard and Ed Lott have good and bad days like every golfer. As much as Howard and Lott know they could have played better the past three days, their efforts proved good enough to earn them some hardware. Howard and Lott teamed Sunday to shoot a 70 for a three-day total of 205 that was good enough to win the championship flight of the Columbus Classic at the Columbus Country Club.
STARKVILLE — The Mississippi State athletic department is taking the struggling economy seriously. Even though the nationwide financial downturn haven’t created any major issues at MSU, the athletic department is watching its spending and is trying to cut back.
Jerry Byrd doesn’t know if he, his wife, or his children are happier. Getting an opportunity to stay home to teach and to coach usually can put a smile on anybody’s face. The Byrds will smile a lot more this year after the Lowndes County School Board approved Friday the hiring of Byrd as the new boys soccer and tennis coach at New Hope High School.
TUPELO — Opponents of the Columbus Crush might consider wearing protective gear when they’re out on the field. Through 17 games, the traditional approach hasn’t worked, so why not try shin guards and catcher’s masks on the infielders. It couldn’t hurt. With an added layer of protection defenses might be able to beat the Crush.
TUPELO — Curveballs are the bane of many baseball players’ lives. The Starkville Dawgs 12-year-old Dizzy Dean team discovered Saturday just how effective that pitch can be. Deacon Medders and Jake Colburn combined on a five-inning two-hitter to lead the Northport Nationals (Ala.) to an 11-1 victory in the Dizzy Dean World Series at the Tupelo Sportsplex.
TUPELO — The Columbus Nationals learned how to bounce back after a loss at the Dizzy Dean South Half State Tournament. That lesson will be put to the test at the Dizzy Dean World Series. Nick Feenker and Jake Griffin hit home runs Saturday morning to lead the Oak Mountain (Ala.) All-Stars to a 12-2 victory against the Columbus Nationals in the 10-year-old World Series at the Tupelo Sportsplex.
Columbus’ Ed Lott and Barry Howard like where they stand after two rounds of the Columbus Classic, but they are looking over their shoulder a little bit. Even after Lott and Howard shot a 5-under-par 67 Saturday to lead the Championship Flight with a two-day total of 135 at the 6,400-yard, par-72 Columbus Country Club, Brandon Garriga and Josh Martin, of Jackson, are lurking close behind in their drive for their fifth consecutive title.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State’s Baseball Summer Camp returned after a year absence and finished Thursday on a successful note. With the transition of coaching staffs and head coaches from Ron Polk to John Cohen, the MSU baseball program decided not to have the camps last year. Camp coordinator Nick Mingione was pleased with the outcome of the program’s five sessions.
Roger Shilling and Avery Velek hope to help pave the way for soccer players in Columbus. The 11-year-olds recently were accepted to and competed in the Olympic Development Program Academy Camp at Belhaven College in Jackson.
1. New Hope needs one more win to secure state title HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. MSU uses familiar formula at SEC tournament COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Mission accomplished: Trojans bring home title HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
5. Penn State transfer QB Bench picks USF over MSU COLLEGE SPORTS