Tuesday, July 11, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
Oktibbeha County circuit clerk pleads guilty to meth charge
Oktibbeha County's circuit clerk pleaded guilty to felony possession of methamphetamine Monday in Clay County Circuit Court. As part of his plea, Glenn Hamilton, 61, will serve one year supervised probation, as well as pay a $1,00 fine and $500 in restitution to the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics. His attorney, Rod Ray of Columbus, said if Hamilton meets all the standards of his probation, his conviction will be removed from his record in a year. Still, Hamilton must step down from his post as circuit clerk due to his plea. Board of Supervisors President Orlando Trainer said supervisors will likely appoint an interim clerk during their recess meeting next Monday and add the circuit clerk's race to a special election already scheduled for November. In the meantime, he said County Administrator Emily Garrard will oversee operations in the circuit clerk's office.
New director named for emergency management in Oktibbeha County
The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors didn't look far to find the next director of emergency management. Monday morning the board voted to promote the assistant director, Kristen Campanella, to the position. Campanella has served the county for nearly 16 years, starting as a dispatcher and working her way up to the top spot. She replaces Shank Phelps, who served as director the last two years. Phelps has spent over two decades in government jobs, including law enforcement, in Oktibbeha County.
Plane that went down in Delta, killed 16, came from N.C. base
President Donald Trump offered condolences to the families of those who died in a tragic military plane crash in Mississippi Monday night, the Associated Press reported. A U.S. military plane used for refueling crashed into a soybean field in rural Mississippi on Monday, killing at least 16 people aboard. The fiery wreckage spread debris for miles. Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Lee Smithson said the plane crashed on the Sunflower-Leflore county line. Leflore County EMA Director Frank Randle confirmed Monday that 16 died in the crash. Trump tweeted early Tuesday, "Marine Plane crash in Mississippi is heartbreaking. Melania and I send our deepest condolences to all!"
Biloxi named fifth best family beach destination by U.S. News & World Report
Looking for a great family beach destination? U.S. News & World Report ranked Biloxi No. 5 in the country, right up there with top-tier destinations like Honolulu and Hilton Head. "Perfectly placed to catch a cool breeze from the Gulf Coast, Biloxi, Mississippi, is the playground of the South," the article says. It also touts the casinos, the sugar white sands on Ship Island and hidden gems such as Beauvoir as reasons to visit. The rankings were based on analysis of expert and user opinions. Biloxi also was ranked 7th for Most Relaxing Beaches, 8th for Best Cheap Summer Vacations, 11th for Best Beaches in the USA and 17th for Best Affordable Destinations in the USA.
Union Files for Vote by Workers at Mississippi Nissan Plant
The United Auto Workers filed petitions Monday to force a unionization election at a Nissan Motor Co. plant in Mississippi after a yearslong pressure campaign to build support. Sandra Hightower of the National Labor Relations Board confirmed that the board received the UAW's election petition in its New Orleans office. The UAW declined comment but has scheduled an event Tuesday at its office near the plant in Canton, just north of Jackson. That union has long struggled to unionize foreign-owned auto plants across the South, and Monday's move sets the stage for a key showdown. The union lost a vote among all workers at Volkswagen AG's plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but then won a vote among 160 maintenance workers. That was the first-ever win for the UAW at a foreign-owned auto plant in the American South.
Opioid and Heroin Summit starts Tuesday
Former Jackson Met Darryl Strawberry and author Sam Quinones are headlining the Opioid and Heroin Mississippi Drug Summit starting Tuesday. "We need to get the word out about how addictive opioids are," Attorney General Jim Hood said Monday. "We need to get doctors to change their prescribing habits." Hood is now suing seven pharmaceutical companies, accusing them of making billions in profits by misrepresenting to doctors and patients the dangers of these prescription opioids. Hood said he expects 40 states or more to pursue similar litigation. Mississippi ranks fifth in the nation for opioid prescriptions
Mississippi families struggle amid budget cuts to Medicaid-funded services
Each day, Perteria Allen walks her grandson through his morning routine -- but it doesn't always work perfectly. Sometimes he shoves towels into the toilet until the floor floods. He fights Allen and she has to wait outside until he calms down. He throws his medications. Allen's 21-year-old grandson, Bertrand Andrus, is severely autistic. At 68 years old, Allen says she desperately needs someone to help care for him in her Greenville, Miss., home. "It's a lot of work for one person at my age," she said. For nearly eight years, Andrus has been on the state's waiting list for a Medicaid-funded in-home caretaker during the day, a service designed to keep people with intellectual or developmental disabilities out of mental health facilities. Just as her grandson was making it to the front of the line, Allen received a letter from the state Department of Mental Health in April informing her that access to the Medicaid program had gone from slow-moving to a complete stop.
Senators Skeptical of Leadership Health Care Timeline
With several sticking points remaining, rank-and-file Republican senators and aides are skeptical of Senate GOP leaders' latest goal of holding a vote on legislation to overhaul the U.S. health insurance system as early as next week. Adding to the headache for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is an amendment pushed by a pair of conservatives that they say is necessary for their support. While it has some appeal in the conference, others have lingering questions over what impact the provision would have on sicker individuals. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas told reporters on Monday evening that updated text for the bill that would repeal and replace large portions of the 2010 health law could be released this week. A report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on the proposal could then come early next week, teeing up a vote next Thursday or Friday. But some Republicans appear skeptical of that timeline.
Space war is coming -- and Congress wants to create a U.S. 'Space Corps' to fight it
When the United States has to fight a war in outer space, who will be in charge? A debate erupting on Capitol Hill is pitting Congress and the U.S. Air Force against each other over a plan that would create a new military branch -- the United States Space Corps -- to address threats in space by January 2019. The Air Force, which currently oversees the Space Command wing, is vehemently opposed to a dedicated space service, saying that would only complicate the defense bureaucracy. But members of Congress say the Air Force isn't moving fast enough to combat what they see as the looming threat in the cosmos --- especially as intelligence agencies warn that Russia and China are developing weapons to take on U.S. space assets. The proposal, which is set for a full House vote this week, won bipartisan support in a House committee last month.
Coffee linked to reduced risk of heart disease, stroke
Drinking coffee could be connected to a reduced risk of dying from a slew of disease including heart disease and stroke, according to two new studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The health benefits and limitations of coffee have been long studied, and this isn't the first time coffee drinkers have seen headlines claiming their morning habit may result in a longer life. One of the studies examined a little over 185,000 Americans, and found that whether people drank caffeinated or decaffeinated, coffee was associated with a lower risk of death due to heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease in African-Americans, Japanese Americans, Latinos and whites.
First gene therapy -- 'a true living drug' -- on the cusp of FDA approval
When doctors saw the report on Bill Ludwig's bone-marrow biopsy, they thought it was a mistake and ordered the test repeated. But the results came back the same: His lethal leukemia had been wiped out by an experimental treatment never used in humans. "We were hoping for a little improvement," remembers the 72-year-old retired New Jersey corrections officer, who had battled the disease for a decade. The pioneering therapy with Ludwig and a few other adults at the University of Pennsylvania hospital paved the way for clinical trials with children. Six-year-old Emily Whitehead, who was near death, became the first pediatric recipient in 2012. Like Ludwig, she remains cancer-free. Such results are why the treatment is on track to become the first gene therapy approved by the Food and Drug Administration. An FDA advisory committee will decide Wednesday whether to recommend approval of the approach, which uses patients' own genetically altered immune cells to fight blood cancers.
Jackson State, Ole Miss create program to increase diversity among pharmacists
Beginning this fall, Jackson State University's department of biology will partner with the University of Mississippi to give qualified JSU pre-pharmacy students preferred admission status to the UM School of Pharmacy. "It's a win-win," said Timothy Turner, chair of the department of biology at Jackson State University in a statement released by the university. Those who meet the requirements will be admitted to the preferred admission program after the first semester of their freshman year. Once students from the program are admitted, they will be on track to graduate on time and will be held to the same academic standards as all Ole Miss pharmacy students.
Former head of Water Institute of the Gulf named director of Louisiana Geological Survey at LSU
Charles "Chip" Groat, founder and former head of the Water Institute of the Gulf, has been named acting director of the Louisiana Geological Survey and will also serve as a professor, according to the LSU Center for Energy Studies. Groat's experience includes service as the Geological Survey director and state geologist from 1978-90 and as the executive director for Coastal, Energy and Environmental Resources from 1992-95. In his new job, Groat will work with Center for Energy Studies Executive Director David E. Dismukes to explore new research and growth opportunities for the Geological Survey and for LSU's overall energy, coastal and environmental research initiatives.
Summer means construction at U. of Florida
It's summer, which means the University of Florida's facilities department is busy with construction projects best developed when fewer people are around. "We try to do the ones that have the most impact on the students and faculty and staff during the summer," said Miles Albertson, director of major projects and special programs. "Food service and utility infrastructure is a prime example of that." At the intersection of Gale Lemerand Drive and Stadium Road, utility infrastructure is being updated with a new chilled-water manhole and piping and a new steam manhole. Current utilities are reaching the end of their useful lives. Broken chilled-water manholes would mean buildings couldn't be cooled, and broken steam manholes would mean buildings couldn't be warmed. Timing is key for projects like these, which would impact huge numbers of people during the fall-spring academic year.
Athens students get head start with UGA intern program
While many students use summer vacation as an opportunity to earn some extra cash with part-time jobs, or just lounge about until the next school year starts, a handful of Clarke County high school students used this summer to get a head start on careers in science and agriculture. The seven students are among 59 statewide participating in the University of Georgia's "Young Scholars" program. Sponsored by UGA's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the program brings in bright Georgia students from throughout the state for a six-week paid internship on UGA campuses in Athens, Tifton and Griffin, where the program began 27 years ago. The program is run by the college's Office of Diversity, which tries to recruit students from under-represented groups, but the program is open to any qualified student, said Victoria David, director of the college's Office of Diversity.
Texas A&M gets share of grant to help retain special education teachers
Texas A&M learned Monday that it's among 10 state universities that will benefit from a $50 million grant donated by H-E-B's education foundation to help keep special education teacher candidates in the classroom after graduation. The non-profit Raising Texas Teachers initiative was created to help with a nationwide shortage of special ed teachers by doling out scholarships. Funding from H-E-B CEO Charles Butt's latest multimillion-dollar philanthropic push will spread the scholarships to Texas universities over the next decade, officials said, adding that the organization plans to award 500 teacher candidates each year with $8,000 scholarships. Training and mentoring opportunities will be part of the package. The first round of scholarships, to be awarded in fall 2019, will include 10 to Aggies.
U. of Missouri seeking lobbyist to replace laid off staff
A little more than a month after laying off everyone responsible for the University of Missouri's lobbying efforts, the university is advertising for a chief lobbyist. The position, posted Thursday, seeks someone who can establish and build relationships with state and federal officials that will "advance the strategic objectives and operational goals of the University of Missouri System and its four campuses." On May 31, as part of $101 million in budget cuts that eliminated 474 jobs, most of the employees of University Relations were laid off. The UM System office handled lobbying duties in Jefferson City and Washington, D.C., as well as public relations duties to speak with reporters and process records requests. The public relations functions were merged with the MU News Bureau, the Columbia campus media relations team. At the end of the most recent Board of Curators meeting, President Mun Choi said he wanted to conduct a national search "to identify the best people to represent us and our interests and the interests of our students and our faculty at the legislature."
Long After Protests, Students Shun the U. of Missouri
In the fall of 2015, a grassy quadrangle at the center of the University of Missouri became known nationwide as the command center of an escalating protest. Students complaining of official inaction in the face of racial bigotry joined forces with a graduate student on a hunger strike. Within weeks, with the aid of the football team, they had forced the university system president and the campus chancellor to resign. It was a moment of triumph for the protesting students. But it has been a disaster for the university. Freshman enrollment at the Columbia campus, the system's flagship, has fallen by more than 35 percent in the two years since. The university administration acknowledges that the main reason is a backlash from the events of 2015, as the campus has been shunned by students and families put off by, depending on their viewpoint, a culture of racism or one where protesters run amok.
Most Republicans Think Colleges Are Bad for the Country: Why?
A majority of Republicans and right-leaning independents think higher education has a negative effect on the country, according to a new study released by the Pew Research Center on Monday. The same study has found a consistent increase in distrust of colleges and universities since 2010, when negative perceptions among Republicans was measured at 32 percent. That number now stands at 58 percent. By comparison, 72 percent of Democrats or left-leaning Independents in the study said colleges and universities have a positive impact on the United States. In an increasingly polarized culture, the drastic shift is the latest piece of evidence that institutions of higher education -- along with labor unions, banks, churches, and the news media -- have been plunged headfirst into a hyperpartisan war.
In dramatic shift, most Republicans now say colleges have negative impact
Republicans have soured on higher education, with more than half now saying that colleges have a negative impact on the United States. An annual survey by the Pew Research Center on Americans' views of national institutions, released this week, found a dramatic attitude shift on higher education among Republicans and people who lean Republican, with the change occurring across most demographic and ideological groups. Two years ago, 54 percent of Republicans said colleges had a positive impact on the country's direction, with 37 percent rating higher education negatively. That ratio shifted to 43 percent positive and 45 percent negative last year. The latest version of the survey, conducted last month among 2,504 adults, for the first time found a majority (58 percent) of Republicans saying colleges have a negative effect, compared to 36 percent saying they have a positive effect.
Overseas students would face close scrutiny under proposal floated at DHS
Senior officials at the Department of Homeland Security are floating a proposal that would require foreign students to reapply for permission to stay in the United States every year, a controversial move that would create new costs and paperwork for thousands of visa holders from China, India and other nations, according to two federal officials with direct knowledge of the discussions. Officials caution that the plan is in the preliminary stages and would require regulatory changes that could take a minimum of 18 months. The plan may also require agreement from the State Department, which issues visas. The officials say the proposal seeks to enhance national security by more closely monitoring the students. The discussions are emerging at a time when foreign student enrollment has reached a historic high in the United States and is injecting billions of dollars into the economy, according to the Institute of International Education.
Michigan's New Motor City: Ann Arbor as a Driverless-Car Hub
As the world looks ahead to a future of interconnected, self-driving cars, this college town 40 miles west of Detroit has emerged as a one-of-a-kind, living laboratory for the technologies that will pave the way. Here, it is not uncommon to see self-driving Ford Fusions or Lexus sedans winding their way through downtown streets and busy intersections, occupied by engineers with eyes focused more on laptops and test equipment than the roadway. Soon students and staff members at the University of Michigan will be able to get around the engineering campus on fully automated, driverless shuttle buses provided by a French company drawn to Ann Arbor by the university's autonomous-car test track, known as MCity. And at any time of the day, some 1,500 cars -- owned by university employees, businesses and local residents, and wired up by university researchers -- radio their speed and direction to one another and to equipment like traffic lights and crosswalk signals. It is all part of a vast pilot project run by the university to develop connected-car technologies that someday should ease congestion and make self-driving cars safe.
OUR OPINION: Agri-center solution should benefit county
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal editorializes: "A longtime headache for Lee County's governing board reached a resolution last week. The Board of Supervisors voted on Wednesday to relinquish control of the county's agricultural event center, turning the buildings over to the Mississippi State University Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, which owns the land where the buildings have sat. ...Jane Parish, who heads the MSU experiment station, said 4-H programs offered through the Extension Service will continue at the center, but could not yet provide details about other uses of the facility. Parish said the use of the center would be done in serving their mission, which is research and education. This is a good solution to an issue that has caused much frustration."
Today, left and right confused with right and wrong
Longtime Mississippi journalist Charlie Mitchell writes: "Charlie Faulk was patient. As the first managing editor to shepherd me, he had to be. He's gone now -- 27 years -- but America and American journalism are in sore need of his gentle good humor and wisdom. As journalists go, Faulk was no crusader. He wasn't afraid of anybody, but if a fight could be avoided, he'd avoid it. It fell to him to calm down a whole generation of us who, with college degrees in hand and Watergate on the brain, knew the world needed to change and knew we were just the people to change it. ...He didn't think that's how journalism should work. ...Faulk would have a lot of problems with corporate mass media and its marketing methods, especially to the extent that reporters' relationships to newsmakers are made to matter. They don't. Journalists and official powers that be are naturally at odds because our role in the scheme of things is to ask why. Reporters have been bawled out for not telling stories the way the way officials wanted them told for centuries. But today, instead of letting the criticism roll off, Big Media has gained audience by creating an ongoing soap opera."
With Rep. Tyrone Ellis leaving, some history of Mississippi House goes too
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison writes: "The retirement earlier this month of Rep. Tyrone Ellis, D-Starkville, from his District 38 post is a sign that the time is nearing when the original 26 rebels who played such a key role in shaping the modern history of the Mississippi House can only be found in the history books. 'With Tyrone leaving, there are only four of us left in the House,' said Rep. Tommy Reynolds, D-Water Valley. 'I think we did some good. The House is a lot more open than it would have been without it.' Reynolds, like Ellis, was among the 26 House members who tried unsuccessfully in 1984 to change the rules to limit the powers of then-Speaker C.B. "Buddie" Newman, who was generally viewed as running the 122-member House with an iron fist. At the time, the effort of the 26 rebels was viewed as a huge disappointment. But the group did not give up and by the end of the term in 1987, the 26 had blossomed into a three-fifths majority that successfully changed the rules to give the average member more say in the House."

Nick Fitzgerald embracing task of following Dak Prescott at Mississippi State
After Nick Fitzgerald humiliated the Ole Miss defense with 258 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns and three passing touchdowns in a 55-20 Egg Bowl win in Oxford last November, Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen chomped a cigar and fielded questions about his then-sophomore quarterback. Chief among them: Exactly which schools did the Bulldogs beat out to land Fitzgerald? Mullen's memory isn't entirely perfect. The Bulldogs also bested Middle Tennessee. Why didn't every FBS coach---in an age when dual-threat quarterbacks are coveted above all others---want a 6' 5", 230-pound quarterback with a huge arm and receiver speed? They lacked faith. Fortunately for Fitzgerald, he had the ideal mentor. Dak Prescott had laid claim to the starting job in 2013, and he was about to take Mississippi State to heights few outside the program believed possible.
Mississippi State's Nick Fitzgerald named to Maxwell Award watch list
Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald has been named to the preseason watch list for the Maxwell Award, which is presented annually to the college player of the year. Fitzgerald led the Southeastern Conference in total offense with 3,798 yards as a sophomore last season to go along with eight 100-yard rushing games and a 7.1 rushing yards average by a quarterback, both SEC records. The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder from Richmond Hill, Georgia completed 54.3 percent of his passes for 2,423 yards, 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while rushing 195 times for 1,375 yards and 16 more scores. Fitzgerald is the first Bulldog up for the award since Dak Prescott in 2015.
Hogs, LSU saw different Nick Fitzgerald games but both share praise
If a Venn diagram were to be created with the title, "Nick Fitzgerald's 2016 Season," perhaps there wouldn't be two better components than Arkansas and LSU. Picture an LSU circle on the left; Fitzgerald suffered one of his worst games on Sept. 17 against Tigers. Picture an Arkansas circle on the right; Fitzgerald experienced one of his best games on Nov. 19 against the Razorbacks. Where the two circles overlap is the respect both programs shared during their respective SEC Media Days' sessions for Fitzgerald, who broke out last season and is looking to take another step in his development this fall. During his first season as MSU's starter Fitzgerald rushed for 1,375 and yards and 16 touchdowns, and threw for 2,423 yards, 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Dan Mullen now wants him to improve his 54.3 completion percentage. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema didn't doubt it would happen.
Media days appearance holds meaning for Mississippi State's Dez Harris and family
Delaina Wilson attended every Mississippi State game in 2016 except for the visit to BYU in October, but she never watched any of the live action when the Bulldogs were on defense or special teams. Wilson is the mother of Mississippi State linebacker Dez Harris, and like many other moms, she always took a seat in the stands, always wearing her son's jersey or a Bulldogs t-shirt. But instead of watching the plays when Harris was on the field, she often looked down and buried her head in her hands. Other times, she simply looked away. Only after hearing the crowd's reaction signaling the play had ended did she catch the replay of what happened on the scoreboard. Later, when she got home, she watched the game she attended on DVR. The issue preventing Wilson from seeing what was happening on the field was not a lack of interest. The root of the problem was deeper than that. "The fear," Wilson said, "wouldn't allow me to physically watch the game."
Mississippi State running back forms lasting friendship with a young boy suffering from spina bifida
Pinson Valley High School football practices used to have a regular spectator with a pretty good eye for talent. An honest eye, too, not one to favor his brother on the offensive line. Braden Herring's eyes kept going back to Nick Gibson. It was no secret to Braden's brother -- Brandon, tasked with blocking for the running back on his way to local stardom -- Gibson was his brother's favorite player. That being the case, Brandon asked Gibson to meet Braden one day after practice. The two have been attached ever since. Gibson, a redshirt sophomore from the Birmingham, Alabama, area, could be in the rotation for Mississippi State this fall, and if he is, Braden will have a front-row seat to it all. It's been the perfect friendship for both of them: Gibson has an unquestioned No. 1 fan in Braden, and Braden gets a football experience he almost certainly wouldn't get otherwise.
Nash and Dak -- Meeting a hero
Meeting a favorite athlete is something most of us dream about, but rarely does it ever actually happen. For 11-year-old Nash Durr, the son of the late William Durr, a Lincoln County Sheriff's deputy killed in the line of duty on May 27, his dream became a reality on Saturday. And it came with a little help from William's cousin, Brookhaven prosecuting attorney Joseph Durr. "This was set up a few weeks ago," Meg Cook, Nash's aunt said. "I was on my honeymoon and got a phone call from Joseph Durr, an attorney in Brookhaven. I immediately thought something was wrong, but he had told me that he got in touch with Prescott's agent and set it up for Nash to meet with Dak." The Durr family loves Mississippi State football. For years, William and his wife Tressie had season tickets. Nash loved to watch his favorite player, Dak Prescott, play on Saturdays and now on Sundays with the Dallas Cowboys.
The Countdown to Kickoff: The SEC's best No. 53, Mississippi State's D.D. Lewis
AL.com is counting down to the 2017 SEC football season on Sept. 2 by presenting the No. 1 player to wear each number 1 through 99 in the conference's history. There are 53 days until the first Saturday of the SEC football season, and the No. 1 53 is Mississippi State linebacker D.D. Lewis. Born in 1945, D.D. Lewis was named for two of the United States' top generals of World War II: Dwight Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur. And Lewis was a commanding presence on the field at linebacker. He was one of the three linebackers picked for the SEC's 50th anniversary team in 1972. Lewis was a member of the College Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2001.
Greg Sankey wants SEC to 're-engage' review of serious misconduct policy
With the SEC behind on an issue where it once led, the conference's commissioner wants the league to "re-engage" and review its serious misconduct policy. The SEC first enacted the landmark legislation on June 1, 2015 and expanded it in 2016, which prohibits athletes who've been convicted, pleaded guilty or no contest to a felony involving sexual assault, domestic violence or other forms of sexual violence or faced discipline at previous colleges for such interpersonal violence to transfer to a conference school. The Big XII, Pac-12 and Indiana University implemented similar legislation since, with the Big XII and Indiana's policies encompassing incoming signees as well. "It's time for us to re-engage the working group to look at these issues," Sankey said in his opening remarks at SEC Media Days on Monday.
Greg Sankey says SEC is open to 14-week regular season
The annual SEC state of the union, delivered by commissioner Greg Sankey, served as an opportunity to deflate at least one recent trite conversation, which was fueled by an offseason of discontent by at least one conference member. Although Auburn University Athletics Director Jay Jacobs and former AU head coach Pat Dye publicly expressed the willingness for their athletics program to move from the SEC West to the SEC East, it's never been an official topic of conversation for the league. Sankey, for the second time since the spring, shot down any such notion. The commissioner also spent time discussing a 14-week season, which would come with two bye weeks instead of the standard one. When up for discussion at the annual SEC Spring Meetings, coaches didn't express much desire for a common reason: it would extend the season.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey quickly shoots down talk of conference realignment
It only took two questions at this year's SEC Media Days to hear the first mention of conference realignment. It took far less time for commissioner Greg Sankey to shoot down such talk yet again. "(It) has not been an agenda item in a meeting," Sankey said. "It is a conversation in most large press conferences in which I appear, and that's the extent of the conversation." The subject -- namely, the idea of moving Auburn to the SEC East and Missouri to the SEC West -- has often been a hot topic on talk radio during the boring summer months. Legendary Auburn coach and local radio personality Pat Dye brought it up again this year, saying on the Paul Finebaum Show in May that "We touch Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. We need to be in the East, and Missouri needs to be in the West."
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey pays tribute to Kentucky players who broke racial barriers
The SEC, birthed in a downtown Knoxville hotel, will celebrate its 85th birthday this year. It was another anniversary that commissioner Greg Sankey addressed early in his remarks to kick off SEC Media Days on Monday. This September will mark the 50th anniversary of the first African-American to play in an SEC football game. That was Nate Northington, one of four black players on the Kentucky team that season. Sankey spoke of the challenges Northington and many others faced when breaking through racial barriers. "They dealt with realities most of us don't understand," he said.
LSU's Ed Orgeron was prepared for the inevitable question: What's different this time?
In a navy suit with an LSU pin affixed to his lapel, Louisiana's tanned and burly native son strode into the Wynfrey Hotel with the confidence of someone ready to answer the question on everyone's mind. What's different this time around, Ed Orgeron? He answered that immediately upon his arrival Monday afternoon, when he wheeled past fans in the lobby hollering for his signature to put his gravelly voice to work on Radio Row. He answered it again when he reached the main ballroom and stood on the dais beside an LSU helmet to break down his team -- finally, officially, his team -- in front of a congregation of college football writers.
Paul Finebaum adds hour just for ESPN2: 'Too much of a good thing can be wonderful'
SEC Media Days gives the conference the chance to introduce the key coaches and players for the upcoming season. It is also a chance for ESPN and the SEC Network to announce programming for the upcoming football season. Now, you will be seeing more of Paul Finebaum. The SEC Network host will add an hour to "The Paul Finebaum Show" exclusively for ESPN2 beginning Wednesday, Aug. 16 and running through December. The new, TV-only hour will be aired 2-3 p.m. ET (1 p.m. to 2 p.m. central) before the show goes live 3-7 p.m. (2 to 6) on ESPN Radio and SEC Network, Monday through Friday. According to the release, ESPN2's Friday hour of the show will be aired live from the location of "SEC Nation."

The Office of Public Affairs provides the Daily News Digest as a general information resource for Mississippi State University stakeholders.
Web links are subject to change. Submit news, questions or comments to Jim Laird.
Mississippi State University  •  Mississippi State, MS 39762  •  Main Telephone: (662) 325-2323  •   Contact: The Editor  |  The Webmaster  •   Updated: July 11, 2017Facebook Twitter