Friday, March 24, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Mississippi State summit looks to the future of manufacturing
Mississippi State University's 7th Annual Manufacturing Summit showcased ways teamwork can help keep Mississippi and the U.S. competitive in the manufacturing industry in the 21st century. Wednesday's summit on "The Future of American Manufacturing" brought together leaders in industry and economic development at MSU's Franklin Center for Furniture Manufacturing and Management. The event was hosted by MSU's Franklin Furniture Institute and is sponsored by the Mississippi Manufacturers Association, Mississippi Development Authority, Northeast Mississippi Industrial Development Association, and MSU's Forest and Wildlife Research Center, Extension Service and College of Forest Resources. Bill Martin, Franklin Furniture Institute director, emphasized the importance of being prepared for the manufacturing industry to grow as jobs come back to the U.S.
 
Mississippi State holds manufacturing summit
Around 90 people from universities, corporations and government bodies throughout Mississippi and beyond gathered at the Mississippi State University Franklin Furniture Institute Wednesday to discuss the future of manufacturing in the U.S. and Mississippi. "One of the things we're finding in the manufacturing sector is the lack of skills to take advantage or to fill the jobs that they're having," said Franklin Furniture Institute Director Bill Martin. "What we did today is bring a group of people who can help solve the problem to get the skill sets ready for the influx of jobs that we're looking for." Martin said more jobs were likely to come back to the U.S. due to favorable policy from the current presidential administration and increasing costs of manufacturing overseas.
 
Mississippi State research team: Robots could help children give evidence in child abuse cases
Would a child open up to a robot? A team at Mississippi State University is suggesting using robots to question children in investigations of child abuse. But not everyone is convinced. Children's accounts are often vital evidence in cases of abuse. But even specially trained police interviewers can find it tough to stay neutral when talking to children. This can result in leading questions and bad evidence, because children can be very suggestible to saying what they think someone wants to hear. The stakes are high: poorly conducted interviews can lead to someone being convicted of a crime they didn't commit, or a child being returned to an abusive environment. Cindy Bethel and Zachary Henkel at Mississippi State say robots could reduce bias and lead to more reliable outcomes.
 
Mississippi chicken operators keeping watchful eye on Alabama bird flu cases
Reports of avian influenza, or bird flu, in Tennessee and Alabama -- including a case in nearby Pickens County -- are something Mississippi chicken growers should be keeping a watchful eye on, said Tom Tabler, a professor of Poultry Science for the Mississippi State University Extension Service. Tabler, who has written extensively on the subject based on his research at MSU, is well-versed on bird flu. Tabler said that there is little reason to believe these bird flu cases pose a risk to public safety -- he said he had never heard of anyone dying from bird flu in the U.S. There are many, many strains of bird flu," Tabler said. "What we have here in the United States are strains that are not really much of a threat to humans, but it can be devastating to chickens."
 
Counties across region see steady growth in new census data
A number of counties in Northeast Mississippi have grown steadily in the last seven years with several counties in the region seeing some of the most significant growth in the state, according to estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau. Lee County had a 2.98 percent population increase from 2010 to 2016, which is the 12th largest growth spurt among the state's 82 counties. Lafayette County showed the highest percentage growth in the state with a 13.61 percent increase of 6,445 residents in seven years. Pontotoc, Oktibbeha and Union counties also continued to grow over the seven-year period. An additional 2,162 residents or 4.54 percent were counted in Oktibbeha County compared to the numbers collected in 2010.
 
Starkville road to close today for repair
Crews will close a Starkville road in order to repair a water line. Old West Point Road, between Highway 182 and Broad Street, will be closed today from 8 a.m. until noon. Crews will have to dig across the road to complete the necessary work.
 
Starkville's Mark Coblentz makes top 10 on 'MasterChef Junior'
A Starkville teen has made his way to the top 10 of the "MasterChef Junior" culinary competition. Mark Coblentz, the son of Robbie and Bonnie Coblentz, made a deconstructed s'more to hang onto one of the coveted spots in Thursday night's show. Coblentz was among 40 junior home cooks between the ages of 8 and 13 who were chosen for season five of the competition, which began in early February. The 10 finalists will now face various challenges as the season progresses and their ranks will thin until one contestant is named America's next "MasterChef Junior."
 
Upholstered furniture industry in good shape, expert says
The U.S. furniture industry, particularly the upholstered furniture segment that's anchored in Northeast Mississippi, is only now getting started in its recovery from the Great Recession. So said Jerry Epperson, a veteran industry observer and analyst with more than 30 years of experience. "While the overall economic recovery is seven years gold, the furniture industry is only in its third year of recovery," said Epperson, the keynote speaker at the State of Economic Development meeting at the BancorpSouth Conference Center. Epperson said the growth of imports has changed the industry at every level. Epperson said with the technology available and the increased use of automation in manufacturing today, the domestic upholstered furniture is in good shape. "I just don't see it losing more market share," he said.
 
And the winners are: Mississippi artists picked for Hall of Fame
The Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience on Thursday released its inaugural Hall of Fame class of 18 Mississippi writers, musicians, visual artists and actors. The inductees will be highlighted in a Hall of Fame at the MAX museum in Meridian that is under construction in Meridian and set to open in the spring. To be eligible for the Hall of Fame, candidates must have made important contributions in the field of arts and entertainment and have a connection to the state of Mississippi, by birth, locating to the state at an early age or by living in Mississippi for a significant part of their careers.
 
Nissan Declines Talks With Union After Mississippi Rally
Nissan Motor Co. has declined to talk to union supporters about conditions at its Mississippi assembly plant after a March 4 pro-union rally headlined by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. A March 14 letter from Nissan executive Scott Becker to the United Auto Workers union declines to address demands presented after a March 4 pro-union rally. Among other things, the union had demanded that Nissan discuss a neutrality agreement with the UAW covering an employee vote on union representation. Becker described claims that Nissan is improperly intimidating pro-union workers as "categorically false." It's the latest rebuff by Nissan in the UAW's years-long campaign to organize workers at the 6,400-employee complex. The UAW has long struggled to unionize foreign-owned auto plants across the South.
 
Legislative leaders face Saturday deadline
House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, is not ruling out the possibility of the Legislative Budget Committee meeting to possibly revise the state's revenue estimate before the Saturday night deadline for the legislative leadership to reach a budget agreement. "That is part of the discussions," Gunn said. It is not uncommon for the Budget Committee to meet late in the spring to revise the revenue estimate -- just before passing a budget for the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1. The Budget Committee makes its initial estimate of the amount of revenue that will be available to appropriate in the fall, but often revises it in the spring based on more current data. Often, the estimate is raised, giving legislators more money to appropriate. But with an ongoing, prolonged period of sluggish revenue collections, it seems unlikely that the Legislative Budget Committee will be raising the estimate this year.
 
AG Jim Hood deposits $34M, lobbies for mental health spending
As budget writers try to stretch Mississippi's cash to cover its needs, Attorney General Jim Hood is chipping in $34.4 million. The Democratic attorney general announced Thursday that he had deposited the winnings from lawsuits into the state's general fund. Most of the money came from a $26 million settlement with credit rating agency Moody's Corp. announced in January. Hood wants lawmakers to give $7.4 million to the Mental Health Department to reopen a drug and alcohol treatment unit at the Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield and finance community treatment for people with developmental disabilities. Lawmakers are finalizing plans for the budget year beginning July 1. They also must also cover deficits incurred this year.
 
Ag pick Sonny Perdue seeks to reassure Congress as Trump eyes farm cuts
Agriculture Secretary nominee Sonny Perdue on Thursday sought to reassure farm-state senators in both parties who are fearful about the impact of President Donald Trump's proposed deep cuts to farm programs, promising to promote agricultural trade and create jobs in the struggling industry. At his confirmation hearing, the former Georgia governor stressed bipartisanship, reaching out to Democrats who have complained about Trump's lack of experience in agriculture and his proposed 21 percent cut to the farm budget. "In Georgia, agriculture is one area where Democrats and Republicans consistently reached across the aisle and work together," Perdue said. Perdue, 70, would be the first Southerner in the post for more than two decades.
 
Mississippi governor joins others in backing GOP health plan
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has joined seven other Republican governors in a letter endorsing the GOP plan to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama's health care law. The Thursday letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan was also signed by the governors of Indiana, Alabama, Idaho, Kanas, Maine, Missouri and Utah The governors say they support the plan's more flexible Medicaid program and phased-in transition from Obama's law.
 
House GOP Heads Into Health Care Vote 'Between a Rock and a Hard Place'
The outcome of Friday's House vote to partially repeal and replace the 2010 health care law is not certain, but one thing is: All parties to the Republican negotiations will walk away with some losses. After a marathon few weeks of debate over the health care measure, President Donald Trump decided he was done dealing and urged the House to vote on the measure and let the chips fall where they may. The vote is set for Friday afternoon, and the chips in this case are a group of conservative hardliners and moderate majority-makers (members leadership typically relies on to help pass bills) that have stood in opposition to bill before the latest round of changes. "Between a rock and a hard place," House Freedom Caucus member Randy Weber of Texas said when asked late Thursday where he was on the bill.
 
Second Lady Karen Pence to visit NAS Meridian
Karen Pence, the second lady of the United States, is scheduled to visit Naval Air Station Meridian and Training Air Wing One on Monday for an invitation-only reception to honor military spouses in observance of Women's History Month. Spouses of active duty members from NAS Meridian and the Mississippi National Guard from Key Field in Meridian will be attendance for the event, according to a statement by NAS Meridian. Pence and Vice President Mike Pence have been married since 1985, and are parents of three adult children, 1st Lt. Michael Pence and his wife, Sarah, and daughters, Charlotte and Audrey. 1st Lt. Michael Pence is a Marine in flight training at Training Squadron 7 on board NAS Meridian, according to the news release.
 
From caricature to man of character: How time and art change image of George W. Bush
Last July, when former President George W. Bush began to smile and sway to "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," holding hands with both his wife and former first lady Michelle Obama during the closing moments of a memorial service for five Dallas police officers, many of his long-time detractors could only look and mock. On traditional and social media, Mr. Bush, making a rare public appearance at the time, was once again the president of the malaprop, seemingly lacking in seriousness and curiosity, the smirking architect of a disastrous and unnecessary war. That caricature, however, is beginning to change. Even for some on the left who once decried his character as well as his policies, the former Republican president's reputation has been burnished during the early tumultuous weeks of fellow Republican Donald Trump's presidency.
 
Visiting U. of Mississippi lecturer denied entry to U.S.
Some students were dismayed to learn a special lecture on Islamic history would be canceled Tuesday night because the presenter was denied access into the United States. Richard Wittmann, who is a German citizen, is the associate director of the Orient-Institut in Istanbul. Wittmann was making his journey from Turkey to Ole Miss when he was delayed in Frankfurt, Germany and told he did not have adequate documentation to enter the United States. Wittmann said as he was boarding the plane in Germany for Houston, where he would connect and fly into Memphis, Tennessee, he was stopped by airport officials. Ole Miss professor Valerio Cappozzo, who is the director of the Italian program and a medieval studies affiliate, said he was disappointed when he found out Wittmann's lecture would have to be canceled. Cappozzo said it can be a frustrating experience, but in the current global climate it is a conversation that needs to be had since President Donald Trump's travel ban.
 
Jackson State hosts researchers for Implicit Bias Think Tank
Implicit bias starts early in education---really early. New research shows that boys, black children and especially black boys are more likely to be expelled or suspended from early education program than their peers who commit similar offenses. Dr. Walter Gilliam, a researcher at the Yale University Child Study Center, presented his research at the Jackson State University Implicit Bias Think Tank on Thursday, March 23. JSU hosted a series of researchers from around the country for a two-day think tank to address and discuss the ways implicit bias affects all academic fields, some in different ways.
 
Auburn University urges higher ed leaders, students to address food waste on campuses
Auburn University is leading a gathering of nearly 100 university and multi-sector leaders this week to discuss how universities can take a leadership role in creating zero food waste and hunger-free campuses. Supported by international nonprofit Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a Presidents United to Solve Hunger, or PUSH, Leaders Forum, March 23-24, at Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio, will focus on food waste and open data -- two critical issues that if solved could greatly accelerate global food and nutrition security. This will be the first time university leaders have gathered to define blueprints to collectively address these issues. Participants will outline practical steps to define how universities can take a leadership role in changing attitudes about the sharing of information and knowledge and reducing consumer and campus-wide food waste.
 
U. of Florida's top lawyer takes leave, citing probe of complaint
University of Florida General Counsel Jamie Keith has taken annual leave, citing an investigation she is under based on a complaint filed by Gainesville attorney Huntley Johnson. He alleges misconduct, violations of UF regulations and procedures and violations of state law regarding public records. The move is the latest development in a months-long tussle between Keith and Johnson that includes UF hiring an attorney to advise the university on Johnson's conduct and Johnson filing a lawsuit against UF alleging it delayed providing public records.
 
U. of Kentucky research park could get townhomes, retail, restaurants with rezoning
Changes to Fayette County's zoning ordinances --- to allow the University of Kentucky's Coldstream Research Park to add apartments, townhomes or condos to the 735-acre park --- received first approval Thursday. The Urban County Planning Commission voted unanimously to change the zoning ordinance to allow the research park to use as much as 15 percent of its land for multifamily housing or retail, apartments or townhomes. Some of the other changes include allowing for more density by requiring less greenspace around buildings and increasing allowed building heights. UK Coldstream Research Park officials have said that adding residential units will allow it to attract more businesses to the research park. Isolated industrial and research parks are outdated. People want to live, work and shop in the same area, UK officials have said.
 
Arkansas Senate Exempts College Sporting Events from Concealed Carry Law
Arkansas lawmakers voted Thursday to exempt college sporting events from a new state law that greatly expands where concealed handguns are allowed, moving quickly to address concerns about the sweeping gun rights measure leading to armed spectators at stadiums and arenas. The Arkansas Senate voted 22-10 to add the exemption to a new state law that Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed Wednesday allowing concealed handguns at colleges, government buildings, some bars and even the state Capitol. It allows people to carry in the locations if they complete eight hours of active-shooter training. The law as-is would let guns into Razorback Stadium while umbrellas remain banned. The lawmaker who called for the sports exemption noted that there's already police and security on hand for stadium and arena events.
 
UGA won't shorten academic calendar as state intervenes
The University of Georgia won't be moving to a shorter academic calendar for 2018-2019. UGA's University Council had been scheduled to vote on a revised 2018-2019 academic calendar at its meeting on Wednesday. The calendar that was proposed by the council's executive committee would have exactly matched the one adopted by Atlanta's Georgia State University. Administrators at UGA, though, said it wouldn't fulfill federal, state and accrediting requirements for contact hours between faculty and students. But now state administrators have stepped in with a plan to resolve discrepancies among the calendars of UGA, Georgia State, Georgia Tech and other University System of Georgia colleges and universities, UGA President Jere Morehead told council members as Wednesday's meeting began.
 
Tennessee Promise inspires new scholarship at U. of Tennessee
The University of Tennessee Knoxville is offering a new scholarship for transfer students in an effort to attract graduates of the Tennessee Promise program. Funding for the Volunteer Transfer Scholarship, like other merit scholarships and need-based financial aid, will come through a tuition-based model and could benefit between 15 and 20 percent of UT's student population, said Larry Long, an assistant director in undergraduate admissions who works with transfer students. In general, Long said he thinks four-year institutions in Tennessee are seeing a change in the nature of the transfer student, with more traditionally-aged students seeking to transfer because of Tennessee Promise. "We want to recognize our transfer students and make sure we're showing them they're important on our campus," Long said.
 
Aggiecon 48 suits up for sci-fi weekend at Brazos County Expo
A three-day celebration of gaming, comic books and other mediums of science fiction and fantasy begins Friday at the Brazos County Expo. The 48th annual AggieCon is hosted by a Texas A&M student organization called Cepheid Variable and will feature panel discussions, video game and tabletop tournaments, a cosplay contest, a charity auction for Scotty's House and a dealers' room featuring various merchandise. AggieCon director Andrew Hoertt said Cepheid Variable members refer to the convention as "congloma-con," because it focuses on all genres and appeals to as many types of fans as possible. This year's theme is "It's Dangerous to Go Alone," a theme gaming fans should recognize, Hoertt said.
 
U. of Missouri goes back on plan to charge for mental health visits
The University of Missouri will not charge students for initial mental health visits at the Student Health Center, which had been one of the most controversial aspects of a new policy intended to generate more revenue for the center. The health center announced in early March that it will be a network provider for most medical insurance plans beginning July 1, with copays charged for consultations that are currently free. That produced a backlash from students, with a focus on the new cost for mental health consultations. On Thursday, the Graduate Professional Council and the Missouri Students Association issued a joint statement that administrators had agreed to exempt mental health visits from the copay requirement.
 
U. of Missouri Faculty Council approves diversity resolution after heated debate
After a half hour of heated debate during its Thursday meeting, the University of Missouri Faculty Council passed a resolution reaffirming MU's diversity policy. The faculty council also approved a policy about texting between students and faculty and voted to move forward on the construction of a monument to honor slaves who helped build MU. Before voting, Provost Garnett Stokes spoke about the creation of an enrollment management committee. The committee will examine which programs and schools have the most room to accommodate new students. Enrollment was down during the 2016-17 school year, and MU is anticipating another drop in enrollment next year. Vice President for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Kevin McDonald provided the council with a draft resolution reaffirming the university's commitment to a diverse learning environment. One council member, Jeff Rouder, criticized the measure and read a speech, calling the resolution a "non-performative one." He said the resolution would not rectify MU's lack of diversity.
 
Graham Spanier Trial Closes With Appeal to Moral Outrage
The fight of Graham B. Spanier's life is coming to an end. In closing arguments here on Thursday, a lawyer for the former Pennsylvania State University president dismissed evidence that Mr. Spanier had failed in his duties to protect children from a serial child molester, as the lead prosecutor appealed to jurors' sense of moral outrage over crimes that might have been stopped sooner had Mr. Spanier acted more forcefully. In a rare criminal trial of a highly respected academic leader, prosecutors charged that Mr. Spanier conspired with his lieutenants to endanger the welfare of children who were sexually assaulted by Jerry Sandusky, a former Nittany Lions assistant football coach, in locker room showers at Penn State. Jurors deliberated for more than six hours on Thursday without reaching a verdict. They returned to courtroom on two occasions to ask some highly technical questions about the often complexly worded legal charges. Deliberations will resume on Friday morning.
 
Google wants to fix tech's diversity problem with an outpost for historically black colleges
our years ago, Google began sending engineers to historically black colleges such as Howard University for its "Google in Residence" program, an attempt to improve its recruiting from these campuses, prepare students for Google's peculiar hiring practices, and inject their computer science courses with more of the up-to-date skills that Silicon Valley needs. Now, it is trying the reverse, starting an on-campus outpost known as "Howard West" that brings students from Washington to Mountain View, Calif., for three months of computer science classes, one-on-one mentorships with black Google tech employees, and even the Googleplex's famous free food and shuttles. Faculty will come with them, spending an "externship" teaching and learning alongside Google engineers.
 
'The Library Has Never Been More Important:' Arizona State library reorganization plan moves ahead
Arizona State University will spend "well more than $100 million" over the next few years to renovate and rethink its libraries, the clearest indication yet of how the library fits into the institution's plan for the public research university of the future. The university later this year plans to close the Hayden Library on its Tempe campus for a two-year renovation. At the same time, the university will continue to work on expanding the library resources and services available to its roughly 26,000 degree-seeking online students and the hundreds of thousands more taking at least one class online from the university. "The library has never been more important," President Michael M. Crow said in an interview. "The library turns out to be absolutely central to our logic of building our educational enterprise -- central in the sense that it is the tool which connects our students wherever they are."


SPORTS
 
Bulldogs looking for more history tonight at Sweet 16
Vic Schaefer feels his Mississippi State women's basketball team is right where it is supposed to be. Second-seeded MSU's matchup against third-seeded Washington (29-5) at 6 tonight (ESPN2) in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament's Oklahoma City Regional is the culmination of a journey that began last March with a 98-38 loss to eventual national champion Connecticut in the Sweet 16 of the Bridgeport Regional. As much as Schaefer would like to forget that game, he acknowledges it raised the bar and served as motivation for his players to take it further. The result has been another record-breaking season that has seen MSU (31-4) climb as high as No. 2 in the USA Today Coaches poll, set school records for overall and Southeastern Conference victories (13), and advance to the NCAA tournament for a school-best third-consecutive season. "From day one, this is kind of what was expected," Schaefer said.
 
Mississippi State women gearing up to play Kelsey Plum, Huskies
Dominique Dillingham hasn't been walking around since Sunday muttering Kelsey Plum's name under her breath, at least not the way DePaul women's basketball coach Doug Bruno did Sunday. But that doesn't mean Dillingham and all of her Mississippi State teammates won't get a crash course on everything related to Plum, Chantel Osahor, the rest of the Huskies before the teams meet at 6 p.m. Friday (ESPN2) in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament's Oklahoma City Regional at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. "I have seen her play a lot. She is really good," Dillingham said. "That is all you really need to know about her. She is left-handed. She can do everything. ... She is just a great player. Coach Schaefer will have a great plan for her."
 
Mississippi State's dad-daughter combo works -- just ask Holly Schaefer
Wife. Mother. Silent sounding board. For Holly Schaefer, that last role out of the three in her life is as intertwined with the first two as it is essential. Holly's husband is Vic Schaefer, Mississippi State's meticulous women's basketball coach who has guided the Bulldogs to their second straight Sweet 16 appearance. Holly's daughter is Blair Schaefer, Mississippi State's Type-A personality junior guard who transformed in the first two rounds of the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship from solid role player to tournament star. This story is about what it's like for Holly to be right in the middle of that relationship and why she thinks it functions so well -- at home and on the court.
 
Gary Blair has unique perspective on Mississippi State-Washington matchup
Gary Blair will crack open a "Colorado Kool-Aid" on Friday night and have a front row seat for could be one of the most intriguing NCAA tournament matchups this season. The game between the second-seeded Mississippi State and the third-seeded Washington women's basketball teams will present a contrast in styles between a defensive-oriented team and one that might be a little more offensive minded. For Blair, the approaches of MSU coach Vic Schaefer and Washington coach Mike Neighbors will mean even more because both men have worked for him and he remains good friends with both. "It is going to be fun," Blair said Wednesday.
 
Mississippi State vs. Washington: Huskies providing Kelsey Plum good matchup
No. 7 Mississippi State has a chance tonight to go where no Bulldog team has gone before them if it can win its Sweet 16 game at 6 p.m. on ESPN2. Standing in MSU's way, however, will be No. 12 Washington and one of the nation's toughest tandems. The Huskies not only have the NCAA's all-time leading scorer in Kelsey Plum but also the nation's leading rebounder, Chantel Osahor. "(Plum) is so multidimensional and so hard to prepare for," said MSU coach Vic Schaefer. "It's not just her, because their game (against Oklahoma) was just a game of horse out there. If you're not guarding somebody, you're going to pay the price. Osahor is obviously a tremendous basketball player and is special, so we've got our hands full."
 
Washington's high-scoring Kelsey Plum leaves opponents befuddled
Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer sees something familiar when he watches Washington guard Kelsey Plum. The Houston native and Rockets fan said Plum affects the game the same way NBA superstar James Harden does. "They run a lot of stuff that the Rockets run," Schaefer said. "They spread the floor. They play off of her. She's smart enough to find who is open, and those kids can make shots." Washington's dynamic senior has averaged at least 20 points in each of her four seasons, and she has broken Jackie Stiles' NCAA career and single-season scoring records this season. Schaefer is the next coach who will try to devise a plan to slow Plum when his Bulldogs face the Huskies on Friday in the Sweet 16.
 
Maryann Baker wears many hats, helps keep Mississippi State women's basketball program going
The voice came out of nowhere. Facing his "choir" during a Hail State Hoops luncheon last month, Mississippi State women's basketball coach Vic Schaefer couldn't remember the last name of someone who works at Premier Ford and supplies his vehicle. "Bill Russell," rang a voice from the back of the Mize Pavilion lobby. A few heads turned to see who handed out the assist, but the individual was nowhere to be found. That's because there likely was another item to take care of or another person in the program to help. Such is the role of Maryann Baker, director of operations for Schaefer's program. From handling travel arrangements for the team, to setting up meetings for coaches, to picking out clothing and gear for the players, you name it and Baker does it. Her ability to handle multiple tasks at the same time allows the coaches and players to stay focused on making the program be the best it can be.
 
Injury-plagued Bulldogs welcome Volunteers to Dudy Noble Field this weekend
Andy Cannizaro has been in baseball every year since his early childhood days of tee ball, and in recapping Mississippi State's lengthy injury report Tuesday, he confidently said, "I've never seen anything like this in my life." MSU's injury issues have been and remain well documented, and one of the most apparent impacts comes in how MSU has managed pitching late in weekends. Twice in a six-day stretch, MSU used center fielder Jake Mangum as the starter and pieced together the game with one- or two-inning appearances from five or more pitchers, a method Cannizaro is unlikely to abandon. "We're going to be doing the same thing for the foreseeable future," he said. That foreseeable future continues with this weekend's series against Tennessee.
 
Shorthanded Bulldogs reeling into SEC home opener
Mississippi State is limping heading into its SEC home-opening series against Tennessee this weekend. The Diamond Dogs have lost four straight and have had a lengthy list of injuries and disciplinary issues on their roster as well. "We need guys to take steps forward and get better on the mound," said MSU coach Andy Cannizaro. "We need guys to get better in the batter's box, defensively and base-running. It's a young team and we're getting better every single day at practice. "We're playing so many close, tough ballgames but the outcome has been frustrating at the end for us because we've come out on the short end of so many close ballgames." Tonight's game is slated for a 6:30 start.
 
Konnor Pilkington is only certainty in Mississippi State rotation
The only sure thing regarding Mississippi State's starting rotation this weekend against Tennessee for the Bulldogs' first SEC home series is Konnor Pilkington will be on the mound Friday night. Andy Cannizaro told reporters in Starkville Thursday that he wasn't yet ready to announce who will start on Saturday and Sunday. And that's where the Bulldogs are at right now. In Pilkington, MSU has a Friday night ace capable of tossing a gem every week. From the Bulldogs' perspective it's critical he does just that. Injuries, struggles and now discipline issues -- Cannizaro announced pitcher Ryan Cyr, who started the fourth game of the year, is no longer on the team -- has MSU needing to solidify roles with limited arms.
 
Dan Mullen likes Mississippi State's depth at center position
Dan Mullen believes football teams have to have, "at least three" centers, just for the purpose of insurance in depth at such a pivotal position. He may have a center in his right tackle. With MSU dealing with losses to graduation and preexisting injuries in spring practice, Martinas Rankin has been taking reps at center all spring, a development co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach John Hevesy expects to continue through the Maroon and White Game. The change of scenery is of no concern to him. "I'm just going with it, whatever happens, happens," Rankin said. "It's a benefit to me to play more than one position."
 
Fred Ross, Justin Senior lead former Bulldogs at Mississippi State's Pro Day
After Fred Ross finished his senior season with the Mississippi State football team, he put personal grudges aside and embarked on a grueling regimen of relentless training for the NFL Combine. "There's guys that can run 4.2- (second 40-yard dash), but you never see that on the football field," Ross said. "You don't play football running 40 yards in a straight line. You never do that." Ross then went out and delivered an impressive outing at the combine. On Wednesday, Ross turned his focus solely to football at MSU's Pro Day at the Palmeiro Center. Ross and offensive lineman Justin Senior hope their performances at Pro Day help them convince a team to pick them as a late-round selection in the NFL draft, which begins April 27. Ross and Senior were two of 19 former Bulldogs who worked out for representatives of 27 of the NFL's 32 teams.
 
Former Bulldog AJ Jefferson confident he made right decision
Former Mississippi State defensive lineman AJ Jefferson skipped the St. Petersburg Bowl, but he stuck around to participate Wednesday in the program's Pro Day at the Palmeiro Center. Now that Jefferson has done it, he is even more confident in the decision he made in December. "I made the right decision staying here (at MSU in draft prep). They got me right," Jefferson said. Jefferson's final season ended in the Egg Bowl after he decided to rehabilitate a nagging shoulder injury and to get healthy prior to the draft. Despite injuries, Jefferson finished second on the team in tackles for a loss and sacks in 11 games. Jefferson seemed encouraged by his progress, but he elected Wednesday only to do position drills for scouts.



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