Monday, July 10, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
What massive Lincoln collection means for Mississippi State
Former Rhode Island Chief Justice Frank J. Williams, 76, became interested in Abraham Lincoln as a sixth grader in Cranston, Rhode Island. He sat underneath a picture of the 16th president in his class, and his interest was piqued. His teacher, Ms. Taylor, encouraged Williams to learn more about Lincoln, and pretty soon he was spending his lunch money on paperback Lincoln books. Through time spent as a Boy Scout, and later an Army Officer and a lawyer, Williams continued to collect memorabilia and live by Lincoln's example. His wife, Virginia Williams also supported his collecting. "It all had a part to play in this global basket," Williams said. " Every one of those things would feed off the other." Today, the collection consists of more than 17,000 items and more than 12,000 books. It is considered to be the largest privately-owned Lincoln collection and library, and has been valued at approximately $3 million. It will be donated to Mississippi State University. Associate Dean of Libraries Stephen Cunetto said the library was just beginning to unbox the Lincoln collection.
Area Mississippi State alumni chapters announce send-off party dates
Incoming students to Mississippi State University and their parents are invited to the nearest of several send-off parties hosted by the MSU Alumni Association's local chapters and clubs between July 12 and Aug. 8. Send-off parties give incoming freshmen and transfer students a chance to meet others in their area who are MSU bound, while allowing alumni and friends the opportunity to congratulate and welcome new Bulldogs to the maroon and white family. The events are also opportunities for prospective students and their parents to learn more about the MSU family. Each incoming student will receive the official send-off party T-shirt at their party. Alumni, friends and current students are invited to celebrate with the new students and share the Bulldog spirit.
MSU Alumni Association announces new national officers
As the Mississippi State University Alumni Association marks 132 years of service, new leaders of the national board of directors are beginning two-year terms for fiscal years 2017-2019. The incoming national officers, who began their terms July 1, include Brad M. Reeves of Jackson as president; Sherri Carr Bevis of Gulfport as vice president; and Jerry L. Toney of Starkville as treasurer. Ronald E. Black of Meridian continues on the board as immediate former national president. The group was elected in February at the association's annual business meeting. "These new national leaders will continue a longstanding tradition of tirelessly leading our association, involving even more alumni and friends in our offerings and promoting Mississippi State around the world," said Jeff Davis, the association's executive director.
Lee County hands off agri-center to Mississippi State
After years of running deeply in the red, with constant leadership churn, Lee County has decided to close its agricultural event center and give the buildings to a Mississippi State University research station. The agri-center and associated buildings sit on property owned by the Mississippi State Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, but the county controlled the property under a lease that the Board of Supervisors decided not to renew in a unanimous vote earlier this week. "It's been failing ever since it's been built," said District 1 Supervisor Phil Morgan, current Board of Supervisors president. "Ever since I've been on the board, I've been trying to get MSU to take it, because it was more advantageous for them than for us." The buildings revert, free of charge, to MSU at the months' end.
Master of Physician Assistant program on track at MSU-Meridian
Mississippi State University-Meridian will become the first public institution in the state to offer a Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree program. The state College Board on June 15 approved the MSU-Meridian proposal to plan for the program that will be housed on the university's Riley Campus in downtown Meridian. It gave Mississippi State the OK to hire a director to create a program plan, which includes necessary steps to achieve initial accreditation. The program will prepare clinical practitioners to meet critical needs in rural health care. Physician assistants serve under the supervision of doctors of medicine or osteopathy, making clinical decisions and providing a broad range of diagnostic, therapeutic, preventative and health maintenance services.
Mississippi State, Jones County JC sign Partnership Pathways agreement
Mississippi State University and Jones County Junior College leaders have signed an agreement creating a Partnership Pathways program that will ease the transition to a bachelor's degree for JCJC students. The partnership allows students to enroll concurrently at JCJC and MSU. Additionally, MSU will place academic advisers at JCJC to assist students and ensure efficient degree completion and maximum transfer of credits. The programs featured in the partnership include accounting, business administration, criminology, history, psychology, bachelor of applied technology in health care services, bachelor of applied technology in event and hospitality services, elementary education (early childhood and middle school concentrations), kinesiology, social work, secondary education (English and social studies concentrations) and special education. MSU has similar agreements with Meridian Community College, East Mississippi Community College and East Central Community College.
One beetle may have brought lethal tree disease now across Southeast
A lone female fungus-farming beetle inadvertently imported to Georgia may have been the source of a disease that has killed some 300 million redbay trees and threatens Florida's avocado groves, researchers from Mississippi and Florida say. Clones of the beetle and her fungus have spread west into Texas and north to North Carolina over the past 15 years, said researcher John Riggins of the Mississippi State University Extension Service. He said they could spread nearly to Canada on sassafras, the source of the powder used to thicken file (FEE-lay) gumbo. "File and guacamole could definitely be endangered," Riggins said Wednesday.
Starkville mayoral hearing rescheduled
A hearing on candidate Johnny Moore's challenge to the results of Starkville's mayoral race is now set for Thursday after scheduling issues with the presiding judge forced the event to be pushed back. Originally set for Tuesday, the hearing before Special Judge Barry W. Ford is now scheduled two days later at 10 a.m. at the Oktibbeha County Circuit Court Annex, Deputy Civil Clerk Tina Mullins said Thursday. Ford was appointed by the Mississippi Supreme Court to hear an election challenge filed by attorney Johnny Moore after he lost May's mayoral runoff by six votes. Moore filed a petition for judicial review one day before the Starkville Democratic Election Committee, at his behest, was scheduled to hear his initial challenge.
Back to basics: Area growers face increasing demand for locally sourced foods
They are unlikely pioneers on an unusual journey: a lawyer, a retired church administrator, a stay-at-home mom, a landscape architect and a classically trained chef. They are not so much exploring new territory as rediscovering an old one, the way we produce the food we eat. One by one, they arrived in the Golden Triangle, each setting their own course. For some, it was a carefully planned and deliberate effort to change the way we think about food. For others, it was more or less an accident. Some started small and grew big. Others stayed small and are content with that, focusing on perfecting the niches they have found. For the past 20 years, as each arrived in the Golden Triangle, they have contributed to returning the community to its food roots.
HomeStretch talks speed to market
At seven-years-old, motion upholstery manufacturer HomeStretch appears to be hitting its stride with a redesigned website that tells the story of a company that has been growing quickly and, until now, quietly. The video on the website home page tells the story of American quality and craftsmanship. It is narrated by company President Skipper Holliman, who co-founded HomeStretch with Vice President Gentry Long. Behind those video scenes is a growth story of a Mississippi furniture manufacturer founded in 2010 at the height of the economic recession, built on a simple business model and backed by decades of experience in merchandising, marketing and operations that Holliman and Long brought, along with the discipline to stay true to their commitment to making a high quality product that is in-stock, shipped fast and supported with great service. HomeStretch has grown from 35 employees to 400, and it does its part to support furniture manufacturing in Mississippi as a partner with the Mississippi Furniture Academy, a skills certification program through Mississippi State University.
Mississippi Power debuts largest solar power plant in the state
Mississippi Power Co. on Friday showed off its 52 MW solar power facility located in Lamar County to the public. The company says the solar site -- which has the capacity to power about 8,000 homes -- is the largest such power plant in the state of Mississippi at 595 acres and housing more than 215,000 solar panels. Operation began June 27, but Friday's event involved a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a lineup of speakers praising the site, such as Mississippi Public Service Commissioners Brandon Presley and Sam Britton; Mississippi Power Chairman, President and CEO Anthony Wilson; Former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, and others. Presley said he is excited by the recent spurt of utility-owned solar projects and the economic benefits they bring to Mississippi.
Mississippi leads the U.S. in losing Millennials
As Millennials -- those born between 1981 and 2000 -- became the largest generation of Americans, the demographic's total U.S. population increased by approximately 2.6 million from 2010 and 2016, according to Census estimates. But counter to the national trend, Mississippi's Millennial population has dropped to 801,799, a 3.9 percent decrease during those six years. According to a analysis of the recently reported state-by-state Census data, no other state in the country lost more Millennials. (Overall, Mississippi's population increased by nearly 20,000 during the same amount of time to total 2,974,294 in 2016.) Nearby states also lost Millennials, but proportionally not as many: Alabama, 1.8 percent, and Arkansas, 0.2 percent. Other than Mississippi, the only other states experiencing a decline of more than two percentage points between 2010 and 2016 were Illinois, Michigan and New Mexico.
Gulfport will borrow more than expected to pay for Mississippi Aquarium
Gulfport will borrow more than it first expected to help pay for the $93 million Mississippi Aquarium under construction downtown. The City Council on Friday agreed to dedicate $35 million in bonds for the aquarium that city leaders are pitching as a family attraction that they expect to generate more than $300 million in economic impact annually for the region. "From the beginning, we made a commitment to do this project the right way," City Council President F.B. "Rusty" Walker said. "This bond measure supports that commitment by ensuring that from the very first day the doors open our residents and guests encounter the complete wow-factor of the Mississippi Aquarium and our community experiences the full economic benefit of this family-friendly destination." Gulfport officials will continue to seek funding from the state Legislature for the economic development project.
Will Tupelo's Roger Wicker face Chris McDaniel challenge in 2018 Senate race?
In the summer of 2014, little-known state Sen. Chris McDaniel came within a political eye lash (one-half percent or 1,720 votes) of defeating the iconic Thad Cochran and putting himself in position to be Mississippi's next U.S. senator. But McDaniel failed to garner a majority vote in that hot and contentious June Republican Party primary and Cochran rebounded to win the runoff and is now continuing his service in the U.S. Senate as chair of the Appropriations Committee. There has been rampant speculation about whether McDaniel, who has affiliated himself with the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party, would wage a campaign in 2018 against Mississippi's other United States Senate -- Tupelo's Roger Wicker. Wicker, no doubt, will be prepared to run an aggressive, well prepared campaign and well financed campaign.
Analysis: Faces, usually not parties, change in 4-year term
Some faces may change in the Mississippi Legislature during a four-year term, but parties often don't. The 52 senators and 122 representatives might want to look at their colleagues on inauguration day. Most will still be at the Capitol at the end of the term. Because of resignations or death, some will not. Legislators are approaching the midpoint of the current term, with the next regular election in 2019. The House outpaces the Senate in turnover of seats. Four House seats are currently vacant -- one because of retirement and three because representatives have moved on to other elected or appointed jobs. So far this term, none of the turnover in legislative seats has resulted in a partisan change.
SoS Delbert Hosemann stands by voter info vow
Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann reiterated Friday that he will never send private voter roll information to a new voter fraud commission in Washington, though one state lawmaker is questioning Hosemann's stance since the state already participates in a crosscheck program. "My biggest disappointment is that Secretary Hosemann led me to trust him that our sensitive voter data was secure and would not ever be given out, or they could jump in the Gulf of Mexico," Rep. Jay Hughes, D-Oxford, said Friday. "That trust quickly vanished when I learned the reality that his office had been voluntarily providing the exact same personal voter data to 28 other states for the last nine years. That is a significant omission of fact, that would have raised many, many questions --- which should've been raised at a time like this."
President Trump's talk of cybersecurity unit with Russia takes the spotlight
In a surprise move coming out of the G-20 meetings with the world's most powerful leaders, President Trump on Sunday shifted conversation from trade or healthcare or climate change -- all key topics at the summit -- to his proposed "Cyber Security unit," a joint operation with Russia focusing on cyberattacks. Lawmakers and members of Trump's administration on Sunday had strongly mixed opinions about the idea of working together with Russia on the issue of cybersecurity. Some chided the idea as "dumb" and "naive," while others praised the effort, saying it was important the U.S. cooperate with Russia, in part to ensure the Kremlin does not turn its efforts on the U.S. again in the future.
Trump's Son Met With Russian Lawyer After Being Promised Damaging Information on Clinton
President Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before agreeing to meet with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign, according to three advisers to the White House briefed on the meeting and two others with knowledge of it. The meeting was also attended by his campaign chairman at the time, Paul J. Manafort, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Mr. Manafort and Mr. Kushner recently disclosed the meeting, though not its content, in confidential government documents described to The New York Times. The Times reported the existence of the meeting on Saturday. But in subsequent interviews, the advisers and others revealed the motivation behind it.
Vehicles as weapons of terror: U.S. cities on alert
As terrorists overseas increasingly turn to vehicles as weapons, cities across the United States, concerned such attacks could happen here, are ramping up security in public spaces to protect areas with heavy pedestrian traffic. "There's unfortunately almost no end to the number of times these things happen by accident and, unfortunately, it is increasing the number of times these things are happening on purpose," said Rob Reiter, a pedestrian safety expert and chief security consultant at Calpipe Security Bollards, one of the nation's top bollard manufacturers. Bollards and security barriers, as well as increased police presence at events, are among some of the strategies that cities are using to guard against such attacks.
USM President Rodney Bennett named chairman of Conference USA Board of Directors
University of Southern Mississippi President Rodney D. Bennett has been named chairman of the Conference USA Board of Directors. Bennett, who will serve a two-year term, was elected by his peers from among the league's university presidents at the June board meeting. Bennett indicated that possible areas of focus may include cost of attendance for student-athletes, academic standards and quality, compliance, media compensation packages, sports scheduling, and post-season play. Joining Bennett on the Executive Committee are: Louisiana Tech President Dr. Les Guice, vice chairman; Middle Tennessee President Dr. Sidney McPhee; University of North Carolina-Charlotte Chancellor Dr. Philip DuBois; and Marshall University President Dr. Jerry Gilbert.
USM president Rodeny Bennett sets up scholarship fund with pay raise amid layoffs
Some employees at the University of Southern Mississippi are losing their jobs and many vacant faculty and staff positions have been eliminated because of state budget cuts. Three people have been laid off and another 33 faculty and staff positions were cut. USM officials said the cuts were necessary because the university received $7.96 million less in education and general appropriations funding for fiscal year 2018. Meanwhile, USM president Rodney Bennett is using a pay raise he is getting from the State College Board to endow a new scholarship through the USM Foundation. Bennett said in an email to faculty and staff that he was sensitive to the university's budget situation.
Jackson State ends week with firings, salary reductions
Newly installed Jackson State University President William Bynum ended his first week on Friday by firing two senior members of the university's communications department and slashing the salaries for several executive cabinet positions. Interim Communications Director Danny Blanton confirmed his termination, which came without advance notice, to The Clarion-Ledger late Friday afternoon. "I was told that the new president wanted to go in a different direction," Blanton said. Olivia Goodheart, director of public relations, was also terminated. Goodheart, who spoke critically of Bynum's nomination for president during a stakeholder meeting held on campus in June, said she was not given advance notice of the decision. Sources speaking on background also told The Clarion-Ledger that a number of vice presidents were informed by letter of salary changes on Friday.
Jackson State to bring back out-of-state fees for some
Citing efforts to recover from a $12 million shortfall, Jackson State University says it will no longer provide new out-of-state fee waivers to the children of lifetime members of the university's alumni association. The phase-out comes at a time when Mississippi's largest historically black college is working to stanch a cash drain that happened under the tenure of former president Carolyn Meyers as it deals with a budget cut for the fiscal year that started July 1. "(The elimination) is all part of the budget reduction and recovery plan," said university spokesman Danny Blanton. "We've been very open about the problems that led us to the need for budget reduction."
Local students chosen for rural physicians scholarship
This January, Blue Mountain College student Andria Barnes will take the Medical College Admission Test, a major step toward her dream of becoming a doctor for rural communities. Barnes is one of two Lee County students selected for the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program, which has been identifying college sophomores and juniors who demonstrate the necessary commitment and academic achievement to become competent, well-trained rural primary care physicians in Mississippi. Barnes and University of Mississippi student Mikayla Johnson, also in MRPSP, are both from Mooreville. There are a total of 10 students from North Mississippi participating in the program: Conner Caldwell of Belmont; Cailey Crawford of Randolph; Ramona Crum of Falkner; Cali Edwards of Aberdeen; Yesenia Gonzalez of Pontotoc; Hannah Laird of Starkville; Houston Orr of Fulton; Austin Urvina of Booneville; Barnes and Johnson.
U. of Alabama starts Hispanic nursing program
The University of Alabama is launching a program to increase the number of Hispanic nurses involved in health care. The Capstone College of Nursing has received a $1.7 million grant for the Bama-Latino Project, which aims to recruit Hispanics into baccalaureate nursing programs. Alabama nursing professor Normal Cuellar says in a statement that the registered nurse workforce is currently 83 percent white, and those people care for a very diverse population. She says the lack of diversity can cause communication and cultural problems. The Bama-Latino Project will provide scholarships to help students get into nursing programs. The school will recruit at least 20 students annually over four years, with the first group starting in the fall.
UGA paying some students to live off campus
University of Georgia fall semester enrollment could set another record. UGA officials don't yet know for sure, but early indications point in that direction. Admissions officials expect a "large incoming class with a higher-than-expected increase in the percentage of students accepting our offer of admission," according to Greg Trevor, UGA's executive director for media communications. Last year about half the students who applied to UGA were admitted, 53 percent. About half of those admitted enrolled in UGA fall semester classes -- a freshman class of 5,475. Most students apply to more than one college. The anticipated big freshman class has helped create a housing crunch on campus that's led UGA officials to offer cash to students if they'll agree to back out of their housing contracts.
Fired U. of Missouri professor had history of complaints by students, faculty, document shows
Former University of Missouri professor Galen Suppes, who was fired in 2016, has said his dismissal should strike fear in the hearts of all tenured faculty. But a report sent by the MU Campus Faculty Committee on Tenure to Interim Chancellor Garnett Stokes on May 15 describes a faculty member and teacher who, over a period of 16 years, harassed and intimidated colleagues and students, had a strained relationship with five successive department chairs and seemed indifferent to the Collected Rules and Regulations of the University of Missouri System. And yet, his attorney, George Smith said, the evidence against his client was mostly hearsay and so old it's no longer relevant to who Suppes really is. "He made mistakes," Smith said. "He did some things that were not kosher. Did it warrant him being fired without an opportunity to reconcile or change? I didn't think so."
Texas universities see decline in international applications
International applications to public universities in Texas have dropped by at least 10,000 over the past year, and some school officials cite President Donald Trump as a cause. A review of university data by the Houston Chronicle shows a 12.5 percent decrease in applications from international students last fall. That compares to a 30 percent increase in applications from 2013 to 2016. A sluggish global economy and greater competition from other countries have impacted applications, according to analysts and campus administrators. Some also have said Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric has created an unwelcoming environment. "Up to this year, anyone who started looking elsewhere, it was partially because of the money," said Rebecca Grappo, a Colorado-based international education consultant who works with foreign students and families. "Now what I'm hearing, it's almost all because of the atmosphere."
Federal Judge Dismisses Suit Against Texas Campus-Carry Law
A lawsuit filed last year by three faculty members at the University of Texas at Austin that sought to reverse the state's controversial campus-carry law has been dismissed by a federal judge, The Texas Tribune reports. Lee Yeakel, the judge presiding over the case in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, wrote that the professors did not have standing to sue. Judge Yeakel wrote that the professors could not provide "concrete evidence to substantiate their fears" that the law would affect free speech on the campus. "The chilling effect appears to arise from plaintiffs' subjective belief that a person may be more likely to cause harm to a professor or student as a result of the law and policy," he wrote. Renea Hicks, a lawyer for the professors, told The Texas Tribune that the case is not over yet, because while the judge dismissed it, he did not respond to some of the professors' arguments aside from the First Amendment.
Mnemonic memories
Angela Farmer, an assistant professor of educational leadership at Mississippi State University, writes: "Learning is a complex process involving many cognitive tools. From day one, students begin to be bombarded with key information sets which they must remember. For those who 'cram' for a test, this data is stored in the short term memory bank and withdrawn for a singular deposit, after which, the material disappears as if it were never held. In order to make a long term deposit in one's memory, he has to get a little more creative. One of the more frequently used, easiest and most accessible tools is a simple mnemonic device. There are a variety of ways to reinforce learning this way, and it works from Kindergarten concepts to graduate school complexities. A few examples include: 'My very educated mother just served us nine pickles" which, naturally provides a list of the planets, with the first letter of the mnemonic providing a clue as to the planet's name... when Pluto still counted, of course."
Do Republicans really care about debt reduction?
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: "So, is reducing the national debt still the priority concern for Republican leaders? ...What's the reality? ...The Congressional Budget Office, based on current budget data, projects annual deficits will 'grow from 3.2% GDP in 2016 to 5.2% by 2027' and the annual deficit will 'cross the $1 trillion threshold in 2022.' ...Meanwhile, the rhetoric will soon soar as Congress must once again increase the debt ceiling. There will be great wailing by Republicans, but bump the debt ceiling again they will so upward spending can continue. The lesson here is simple. Watch what leaders do, not what they say."
Who's (maybe) running in 2019... AG edition
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender writes: "In two previous columns, I attempted to outline the buzz on potential candidates for governor and lieutenant governor in Mississippi for 2019. Now, for a final installment at least until the Neshoba County Fair stumping later this month, let's look down-ticket at the attorney general post. This is assuming longtime AG Jim Hood runs for governor and-or does not seek re-election. On the Republican side, it might be easier to list those who are not considered potential AG candidates. It would appear that any Republican politician with a law degree has at least toyed with the idea or been approached about a run for the state's top lawyer job. On the Democratic side -- well, some politicos are starting to wonder if the party might be ready to cede the office it has held since 1878, the only statewide office now held by a Democrat."

Five questions facing Mississippi State at SEC Media Days
Mississippi State's Dan Mullen will be making his ninth consecutive appearance at SEC Media Days this week, making him the second longest tenured coach currently in the conference behind Nick Saban of Alabama. Mullen will take to the podium Tuesday afternoon along with seniors Donald Gray, Dez Harris and Martinas Rankin. Here are five questions the Bulldogs will likely be asked during the media circus.
Son of fallen deputy surprised with a chance to meet Dak Prescott
In deep grief, moments of joy stand out, and sometimes they come as a big surprise. That's how it happened on Saturday for Nash Durr, the 10-year-old son of Deputy William Durr, who was killed in the May 27-28 shooting spree in Brookhaven that claimed the lives of eight people. Durr, his wife Tressie, and Nash were big Mississippi State football fans. A photo released by Durr's family with a statement shortly after his death showed the three of them in their maroon and white, supporting their team. On Friday, Tressie and other members of the Durr family told Nash they were just going to get out of town for a little while, and Saturday they all put on their shirts that honor Durr's memory and told Nash they were going to a botanical garden. But instead of going to look at the plants, Nash found himself meeting Dallas Cowboys quarterback and former MSU standout Dak Prescott.
Cardmaker promises to replace Dak Prescott cards
Former Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott was not responsible for the appearance of machine-generated autographs on some of his trading cards, according to the company that produces the cards. All of the cards have been recalled and will be replaced. ESPN's Darren Rovell first reported the story on Wednesday. In a tweet, Rovell told the Daily Journal that he received a statement from cardmaker Panini late Friday, two days after contacting them for a response. In the statement, Panini said it was confident after an internal investigation that Prescott had "no knowledge" of how the disputed autographs got on the cards. Prescott items have been much in demand since his breakthrough 2016 rookie season with the Cowboys.
Southern Miss athletic department sees 8 percent growth in revenue
Southern Miss saw a year-over-year increase in athletic ticket sales by nearly $1.2 million in fiscal year 2016. According to figures compiled by the USA TODAY Network and released on Thursday, the athletic department used that hike and a number of others to raise its revenue generation level to $25,915,460. That amount represents an 8.1 percent upturn over fiscal year 2015. Yet, Southern Miss still lags behind the bulk of the NCAA, ranking 118th in the country and ahead of only one Conference USA institution (Louisiana Tech) whose budgets are a matter of public record. The major factors that inhibit Southern Miss' ability to increase its bottom line include contributions and student fees. While the department procured $3,641,997 in monetary gifts or donations in 2016 -- sixth-most among C-USA schools -- it ranked 82nd in the NCAA. That figure also marks a more than $300,000 reduction from the previous year.
The 5-year impact of Texas A&M, Missouri joining the SEC
Whether it expanded or not, the Southeastern Conference was never in real danger of extinction. It had too much legacy and power for such an unseemly fate. But it risked falling behind in the revenue war if it didn't capitalize on the most tumultuous modern period of college athletics. SEC commissioner Mike Slive had long been interested in starting a conference television network, but the timing wasn't right when the SEC signed a 15-year television rights deal with ESPN in 2008. That deal was historic at the time, but the market was booming, and it risked paling in comparison to even more lucrative deals that other conferences would soon get. Enter Texas A&M and Missouri which officially joined the conference five years ago last Saturday. The SEC pounced on the Big 12's dysfunction to add two large TV markets that would pave the way for the most successful television network launch in cable history.
He's back! Ten years removed, Ed Orgeron returns to SEC media days wearing different hat
A decade ago, Ed Orgeron stepped to the dais at Southeastern Conference media days as the head coach at Ole Miss. He fielded questions about his job security, discussed his team's shaky quarterback situation and talked about his intention to score more points in the second halves of games. In opening marks to reporters then, he told the group that today -- July 27, 2007 -- was his birthday. He also talked about his twin sons, both of which were then participating in the Little League World Series. He ended his opening statement with a remark that suggested the Cajun coach saw a bright future in Oxford, Mississippi. Ole Miss fired Orgeron four months later. The gravelly voiced Larose native returns to the conference's unofficial kickoff event Monday as the coach of a different SEC school. LSU's head man begins meeting with reporters at 2 p.m. during the opening day of this four-day media circus that plays out on the second floor of the Wynfrey Hotel.
Mizzou basketball paying nearly $375K for nonconference home games
The Missouri basketball program isn't quite done building its nonconference schedule for 2017, but its bill for bringing opponents to Mizzou Arena stands at $374,500. The fees were disclosed in the game contracts MU provided for seven of the Tigers' nonconference games after an open-records request from the Tribune last week. Missouri's most expensive opponent so far is North Florida, which will receive $98,000 for its Dec. 16 game in Columbia. Additionally, the Tigers will pay Miami (Ohio) $96,500 for the game Dec. 5; Green Bay $90,000 for the game Dec. 9; and Stephen F. Austin $90,000 for the game Dec. 19. Utah agreed to pay Missouri $100,000 for the home-and-home series that starts this season. The Tigers will play Nov. 16 in Salt Lake City. Missouri is scheduled to host in 2018-19, but a date has not yet been confirmed.

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