Monday, June 24, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
Bulldogs two wins away from first national championship
Mississippi State, national champions. Those words have never been strung together, but that can change this week as the Bulldogs face UCLA in the College World Series finals. Game 1 of the best-of-three series is at 7 p.m. today on ESPN. MSU and UCLA are both trying to not get caught up in what might be, instead focusing on what it takes to make that elusive national title a reality. "The minute your brain goes into what happens next're starting to lose your perspective of what got you here," MSU coach John Cohen said. "It's kind of like a chess game -- whoever loses that perspective first is going to have a disadvantage in this series."
Dudy Noble Field, restaurants hold viewing parties
Can't make it to Omaha for the finals of the College World Series? Seven Starkville restaurants will host official Mississippi State baseball watch parties this week for fans unable to attend the best-of-three championship series in Omaha. Fans will be able to interact with @MStateBB, win prizes through social media and enjoy food and drink specials while they watch the game with fellow Bulldog fans. In addition, Dudy Noble Field will also host a watch party for game one Monday night. Admission is free to all watch parties.
Mississippi State fan's passion remembered
As Mississippi State University Bulldogs continue their march to College World Series victory, the family of an alumni and diehard fan remember his devotion to MSU. Don Hall, 79, of Brandon died Friday after a long battle with Alzheimer's, but, his love for the bulldogs never left him. The last line of description in Hall's obituary read: "His greatest passion was following the Mississippi State Bulldogs." "I remember when he brought his motor home and grill to field and fed the entire baseball team after a practice one day," Keith Hall said of his dad. He said his dad was always a MSU fan and recalls going to every game as a child, home and away.
State fans snap up CWS gear
As Mississippi State's baseball team has made its trek toward a national championship, Northeast Mississippi retailers said sales of College World Series merchandise have taken off. Bulldog fans across the region have flocked to stores to buys shirts, caps and buttons commemorating the team's historic run in Omaha. "We have had many people come buy College World Series merchandise," said Sherry Neal, manager of The Lodge in Starkville. "We have been very overwhelmed by what the team has been doing. We have had to order multiple shipments of shirts."
MSU fans, alums celebrate CWS finals berth
Along with the occasional bursts of applause and clapping Friday afternoon at Old Venice Pizza Company in Starkville, tensions mounted as the maroon and white faithful watched and waited for the outcome of a very crucial game. Mississippi State defeated Oregon State in a 4-1 victory, ensuring its place in the College World Series finals. "We're going to the championship. We've never been this far, and to be going there is awesome," alumna Anna McLeod said.
Decades of True Maroon
Every Bulldog fan is looking forward to seeing Mississippi State play for their first national title Monday night. But for some of the team's most seasoned supporters, this game means something special. "I never though I'd live to see Mississippi State play for a national title in anything, in any sport, but baseball is really something special," said Mississippi State alum Bill Gavin. After Mississippi States win on Friday, countless fans have been traveling to Omaha for the Championship games. While students have been thrilled to see their school doing so well, fans who have been following the Bulldogs for decades can best appreciate the moment.
For Mississippi State, Omaha sojourn now about more than baseball
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "I'm a Mississippi State guy. Always have been, always will be. For more than 30 years now, I've made no secret of my allegiance to my alma mater and have never missed an opportunity to tell the story of what a difference Mississippi State University has made in my life and that of my late parents and my sisters. I love the place and I love the people. ...We are closer to a major sport NCAA national championship than MSU has ever been -- closer even than the storied 1985 MSU squad led by future major-league All-Stars Will Clark, Rafael Palmeiro, Jeff Brantley and Bobby Thigpen. We're closer to an undisputed NCAA Division 1 major sport national championship as any Mississippi university has been since 1960. ...How much it would mean to MSU folks if we could, as Jack Cristil liked to say, 'wrap it in Maroon and White.'"
MSU Alumni Meeting Postponed for Championship Game
Mississippi State Alumni officials say the alumni meeting planned for this Tuesday, June 25, has been postponed due to the College World Series championship game.
College World Series finals: Our State's team
Water-cooler talk in recent days has been all about MSU's historic College World Series showing. Learn more about some of the guys whose names you'll hear in Monday night's game against UCLA.
Mississippi State opens new research park road
Mississippi State University announced Thursday that it has opened the new four-lane Technology Boulevard at the Thad Cochran Research Park, and with it, more than 40 acres of additional land and utility infrastructure for new economic development.
Three questions with... Dr. Brian Williams, agricultural economist
This spring's weather has affected farmers in unusual ways. Daily Journal reporter Errol Castens visited recently with Dr. Brian Williams, an agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, about the weather's impacts.
Two sororities to build at Mississippi State
Mississippi State University is one step closer to adding two new sorority houses to its campus after the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees approved exterior designs for the houses at its meeting Thursday in Jackson.
Mississippi ranked 49th in overall child well-being
Mississippi has moved out of the No. 50 spot in overall child well-being for the first time in 24 years, according to data released Monday in the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Kids Count Data Book. The state now sits in the 49th position, and the foundation claims improvements in education and health to be the reason. "While the health and education indicators have improved somewhat, keeping Mississippi out of its perennial 50th spot, the high percentage of children living in poverty coupled with children living in households whose parents lack secure employment continue to be of concern," said Dr. Linda Southward, Mississippi Kids Count director. Mississippi Kids Count is located at Mississippi State University's Social Science Research Center.
Annual Kids Count report bumps state to 49
Gains in health and education have nudged Mississippi children off the bottom of the Kids Count list. For the first time in the 24 years that the Annie E. Casey Foundation has been compiling state-by-state statistics on the well-being of children and families, Mississippi ranked 49th, not 50th overall. New Mexico took over the bottom spot. It's an important, although incremental, achievement for the state where nearly a third of children live in poverty. "While we are not where we need to be, the fact that our child and teen death rate, along with some decrease in the percentage of children without health insurance has been helpful," said Mississippi Kids Count Director Linda Southward, who serves on the faculty at Mississippi State University Social Science Research Center.
Out of Concrete and Drudgery Come Canoes That Float
It's not easy making the unsinkable out of the unthinkable. But at the National Concrete Canoe Competition, civil engineering students use a material that is normally the stuff of dams and parking garages to build a 20-foot-long craft that will float even if completely swamped. On Saturday, after two days of being judged on their engineering know-how and the quality of their final product, the students took to the waters of a nearby lake for races that would count for 25 percent of their overall score. Sarah Smith, a captain of the Mississippi State team, who just graduated, said she was convinced a main reason she was hired by a civil engineering firm in Jackson, Miss., was because of her concrete canoe work. Her employers, she said, "knew what kind of time and dedication goes into this."
Higher Education Briefs: Mississippi State researcher helps map cave art
A pictograph that remained in the dark for almost 6,000 years has come to light with the help of a Mississippi State anthropologist. Featuring what appears to be a human hunting, the image -- the oldest ever discovered in Tennessee and among the oldest yet found in America -- is providing new insights into prehistoric life, according to Nicholas Herrmann, MSU associate professor of anthropology and Middle Eastern cultures. Herrmann and a research team led by Jan F. Simek, president emeritus of the University of Tennessee system, have worked for more than a decade in Tennessee's Cumberland Plateau.
Tabereaux wins MSU Distinguished Staff Award
Charlotte B. Tabereaux, Ph.D., education director at the MSU Riley Center for Education and Performing Arts, has won a Mississippi State University 2013 Zacharias Distinguished Staff Award. The MSU Staff Council recognizes 12 winners each year, half from the university's professional staff and half from the support staff. The MSU Riley Center, a restored Victorian showplace in historic downtown Meridian, is widely known as a performing-arts and conference venue. But its mission also includes a strong educational mandate. Dr. Tabereaux oversees the educational programs.
Mitchell Companies hires new communications manager
Meridian-based Mitchell Companies has recently named Anna Grace Ward as the new communications manager. In this role, Ward will be responsible for coordinating marketing and employee communication for all of Mitchell Companies across all platforms, websites, social media, and print. She will also be responsible for event management for various company events. Ward graduated from Mississippi State University in 2011 with a bachelor of arts degree in communication with an emphasis in public relations and a minor in marketing.
Judge Williamson to oversee Ward 4 election review proceedings
Mississippi 10th Circuit District Judge Lester F. Williamson Jr. will oversee alderman candidate John Gaskin's request for an election review, counsel confirmed Friday. Williamson's appointment marks the first step in Gaskin's contest of the Ward 4 Democratic Primary. The state's 10th Circuit District includes Clarke, Kemper, Lauderdale and Wayne counties. An official hearing date is not scheduled, but a pre-proceedings conference between the judge and counselors is scheduled for Thursday, attorney Lydia Quarles confirmed. Quarles represents incoming Ward 4 Alderman Jason Walker, who defeated Gaskin by four votes.
Oktibbeha supervisors may pick interim prosecutor tonight
Supervisors could name an interim replacement for retiring county prosecutor Roy Carpenter Jr. at its 5:30 p.m. meeting today. The board is expected to take action soon -- either today or by July's first monthly meeting -- as Carpenter ends an almost 30-year career as Starkville and Oktibbeha County's prosecutor. Supervisors have received at least one application for the position, board Vice President John Montgomery confirmed Sunday, but an exact count of resumes was unavailable at press time. An agenda for the meeting was also unavailable as of press time.
Can Democrats Win Back the Deep South?
A few weeks ago, municipal elections were held in Mississippi. The state Republican Party concentrated its efforts on four traditional GOP strongholds -- Tupelo, Meridian, Starkville, and the picturesque Gulf Coast burg of Ocean Springs. But on Election Day, June 4, Mississippi Republicans got a rude shock: They lost all four. A handful of local elections in Mississippi is hardly a blue wave. But Democrats across the South hope what just happened there is the start of something big -- the first ripple of a Democratic comeback in the Deep South. They've formed at least three new regional political groups to try to make that happen.
Two NE Mississippi lawmakers top pay scale
Two lesser known state legislators were two of the highest paid lawmakers for the 2013 expense reporting period, making more than $57,000 each, with salary and expenses, according to the state auditor's legislative expense report. State Reps. Charles Jim Beckett, R-Bruce, made $57,500, and Donnie Bell, R-Fulton, was paid $58,313 in total compensation. A significant part was expense for travel to and from the state Capitol. Only those in leadership positions in the Legislature took home more money than Bell and Bennett.
Federal judge critical of Mississippi tort caps
A federal judge has upheld Mississippi's cap of $500,000 on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases. The ruling came in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a woman and her unborn baby who died after being denied potential lifesaving treatment at a hospital on the Choctaw Reservation in Neshoba County. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves applied the caps in the case, finding that his hands were tied and the Mississippi Supreme Court would likely find the caps constitutional. But Reeves found fault with the caps and what he perceived as their unfairness.
Innovate Mississippi taps Mayo Flynt for chairman
Innovate Mississippi announces the election of Mayo Flynt, president of AT&T Mississippi, as chairman of the nonprofit organization's board of directors. Its mission is to drive innovation and technology-based economic development in the state. The board is made up of private sector CEOs, innovation and technology entrepreneurs, business leaders, and investors. Representing the board's public sector are the presidents of Mississippi's four research universities -- Jackson State University, Mississippi State University, the University of Mississippi and the University of Southern Mississippi.
Officials point to workforce retraining as Navistar idles
Ten years ago, Alan Nunnelee faced a similar situation now looming over about 80 employees at West Point's Navistar Defense plant: job loss at no fault of their own. The Golden Triangle plant is suspending production of armored vehicles due to federal sequestration cuts and the gradual wind-down of the almost 12-year war in Afghanistan. Nunnelee became unemployed in 1993 due to a corporate merger, he said. The now-U.S. congressman who represents Clay County called the experience one of the most devastating moments of his career. While the Navistar situation seems bleak, officials point to workforce retraining as a springboard for unemployed workers to find mobility in the job market.
Eurocopter on verge of Lakota contract with Thailand
The fight to sustain production of the UH-72 Lakota, which is manufactured in Columbus, may be helped pending U.S. Congress' approval of a foreign military sale of six helicopters to the government of Thailand. American Eurocopter Director of Corporate Communications James Darcy confirmed Friday that Thailand has requested to purchase the aircraft. U.S. senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker released a joint announcement Thursday, expressing their support of the proposed deal. EADS North America is parent company of American Eurocopter, which has a plant in Columbus that produces the Lakota. The Columbus facility currently has a contract to build 41 helicopters in 2014 and 10 in 2015 for the U.S. military. That contract is being jeopardized by sequestration cuts that would cut that number down to 10 in 2014 and none in 2015.
Mississippi's May casino revenues offer economic encouragement
For those who judge casino spending as an indicator of increased leisure spending and economic recovery, May was a good month. Just 30 days after one of the worst casino revenue months in the last 15 years, an abrupt reversal by the state's Gulf Coast casinos in May have sparked Mississippi casinos to their first year-over-year increase in two years. Overall, the state's 30 casinos produced $192.7 million in gross gaming revenue in May. That's a 3 percent increase over May of 2012, when gamblers lost $187 million, according to records released Friday.
Supreme Court sends back U. of Texas race admissions plan to lower court
The Supreme Court has sent a Texas case on race-based college admissions back to a lower court for another look. The court's 7-1 decision Monday leaves unsettled many of the basic questions about the continued use of race as a factor in college admissions. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the court, said a federal appeals court needs to subject the University of Texas admission plan to the highest level of judicial scrutiny. The compromise ruling throws out the decision by the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the Texas admission plan.
How the farm bill failed
Among the 62 House Republicans voting against the farm bill last week, all but one had voted minutes before for a controversial food stamp amendment that undercut Democratic support for passage. This is what passes for "growing the vote" these days in Congress. Or in playground terms: taking your ball and going home. Fully seven of the 62 are current or former House committee chairmen; two more have appropriations bills of their own to manage on the floor. Yet all turned their backs on Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), left begging for 20 votes just to get to conference with the Senate. Looking back, it was a remarkable moment not just for the tone-deaf judgment of the House GOP leadership but because the Republicans voting "no" had gotten their way so often in the debate.
House GOP Must Do the Math to Avoid the Red Faces
A four-day weekend for the House is affording GOP leaders extra time to go over the long list of lessons they were retaught by the farm bill's catatonic collapse. Perhaps the most obvious and the most important among them: If you've got the votes, then vote. If you don't, bide your time. But be sure you can count well enough to know the difference. Forgetting this one lesson next time, on the immigration bill, will almost surely prove fatal to the most sweeping domestic policy overhaul of this decade.
No Easy Fix for House Leaders in the Shambles of the Farm Bill Vote
House leaders must determine how they can pick up the pieces after a bipartisan rejection of a five-year farm bill backed by Speaker John A. Boehner. But some people who follow the farm bill, in the past an easily bipartisan piece of legislation, say there may be no easy fix. The bill (HR 1947) was rejected 195-234 on Thursday, after 62 Republicans voted against it -- one out of every four GOP members. Only 24 Democrats voted for it. It couldn't even draw a majority of the Agriculture Committee Democrats. Leaders appear to have several options: have the Agriculture Committee rewrite the bill; go straight to conference with the Senate without a House bill, as they did with highway legislation; put the Senate farm bill (S 954) on the floor; or opt for another year-long extension of the 2008 farm bill (PL 110-246).
VW mum on prospects for Tennessee plant expansion
Volkswagen calls its Chattanooga plant a global model for energy conservation and efficient production. But executives remain tightlipped about whether the facility is in line to produce a new crossover SUV for the German automaker. A decision about production of the new model could come as soon as the quarter that begins in July, and local and state officials hope the company decides to double down on the plant that currently employs about 2,500. Economic incentives are likely to play a large role in the decision, just as they did when Chattanooga beat out sites in Alabama and Michigan for the plant in 2008. Tennessee's total incentive package was estimated at $577 million.
New USM athletic director choice crucial, supporters say
Now that the page has turned on the Jeff Hammond era, the question is who will fill his shoes as the next as University of Southern Mississippi athletic director. It's a crucial decision. "Athletics are the branding arm of the university," said Gene Carlisle, chief executive officer of the Carlisle Corp. and member of the Circle of Champions athletics donor group. "We're the third school in the state. We're not the university (University of Mississippi). We're not the land-grant university (Mississippi State University). You got to fight hard to hold your own."
Bennett gets first look at Gulf Coast Research Lab
University of Southern Mississippi President Rodney Bennett has gotten his first look at USM's Gulf Coast Research Lab's Cedar Point campus in Ocean Springs. Bennett, who was named USM's president earlier this year, was at the facility Friday for a tour and to speak at a meeting of the new Science Center for Marine Fisheries. He got a firsthand look at the lab's system of hatching, raising and releasing fish. Bennett said the aquaculture research at the lab has the potential to take the USM marine sciences program to international prominence.
Delta State president tours region
Delta State University's eighth president, Bill LaForge, toured the region recently, stopping to tour the ASICS running shoe distribution center in Byhalia. By the looks of LaForge's busy schedule, a pair of running shoes just might be a good idea. LaForge also made the rounds in smaller towns and cities like Hernando and attended a gala event in Memphis, rubbing elbows with blues great Ruby Wilson and other Mid-South luminaries at a reception in his honor at the Mississippi riverfront home of fashion designer Pat Kerr Tigrett. "People love Delta State," LaForge said in a recent interview with the DeSoto Times-Tribune during a stop in Hernando. "I've met some of my very best friends -- lifelong friends -- while at Delta State."
Construction nearly complete on Pearl River Community College's arts center
Construction is nearly complete on a multi-million dollar, showcase arts facility that's been 13 years in the making at Pearl River Community College in Poplarville. In just a couple of months, the long-awaited, Ethel Holden Brownstone Center for the Arts will be open. The $11 million auditorium was paid for primarily with funds from a private endowment. It will seat nearly 1,000 people and will host concerts, plays and other special events. Also, construction is progressing on two other nearby projects on the Poplarville campus. A $10 million basketball coliseum could be open by November and a $3.1 million, 60-bed men's dormitory should be ready to house students by the end of the fall semester.
Friends roast retiring Itawamba Community College president
Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley quickly learned a lesson when he joined the Itawamba Community College Board of Trustees. "I had a crazy notion," Presley said Saturday night during the David C. Cole Celebrity Roast at the BancorpSouth Conference Center. "I thought the trustees ran the college. I learned very quickly the president ran us." One of five roasters at the event honoring ICC's retiring president, Presley joked that Cole put a nursing clinic outside the board room to repair the shoulders of those whose arms were twisted during meetings. The event raised about $100,000 for the Itawamba Community College Foundation, which will use the money for student scholarships and other needs of the college. Former Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck was the master of ceremonies.
LSU's new leader: Earning respect
When he first became president of California State University Long Beach in 2005, the talk was that F. King Alexander wasn't qualified to run the institution of more than 30,000 people. But that view changed, according to people such as former three-term Long Beach Mayor Beverly O'Neill and Long Beach fundraising chief Andrea Taylor. "When he was hired, people were intent on not liking him. His predecessor had a warm presence. King had a different personality," Taylor said. "It's a credit to him that he could succeed here. It's not like the campus decided to embrace him. He earned that campus and community respect." Alexander steps into the LSU presidency Monday. He was selected amid controversy over a secretive search process and was immediately attacked by a faculty leader who questioned his qualifications. But perhaps his biggest challenge will be bruising battles over money for higher education.
Texas A&M president gives updates on incoming freshmen, Kyle Field
Texas A&M University President R. Bowen Loftin revealed Friday that the university overshot in offers made to high school seniors and is preparing to take in about 1,000 more Aggies than expected in the 2013 freshman class. Bowen, in delivering an address at a staff council forum, said the school received about 10 percent more applications than it did in 2012 and wanted to enroll about 8,700 freshman. "We messed up, and more people than we expected, based on historical data, said 'yes,'" Loftin said. "The numbers I'm hearing on the freshman class are about between 9,500 and 9,700 most likely. This will be the biggest jump ever in our history in terms of the size of the incoming class from year to year. And that will put a strain on us as well." Loftin spoke to and answered questions from about 150 staff members for nearly an hour and a half at a forum called "The university moving forward."
Texas A&M officials have big plans for equine center
The Texas A&M structure that collapsed Saturday, injuring five workers, was part of an $80 million project that university and system officials said will be one of the most cutting-edge equine facilities in the nation. Ground was broken in October on the first phase of the Texas A&M Equine Complex, on the university's west campus off F&B Road. It was approved by the A&M System Board of Regents in May 2012. The complex was the source of much pride for the university's top officials.
Texas A&M cologne, perfume to offer scent of Aggie spirit
Coming soon, you won't have to walk across campus under the Texas sun or spend a night at Northgate to smell like Texas A&M. The university will have its own official perfume and cologne come fall, and officials say it will actually smell quite nice -- with floral and fruity aromatics. A&M spokesman and top marketing guru Shane Hinckley acknowledged the jokes on social media about what the Aggie products might smell like, but said he expects the scents to sell well.
Student housing boom continues even as U. of Missouri expects fewer freshmen
For the first time in years, University of Missouri administrators are predicting a smaller fall freshman class than the year before, but the forecast doesn't seem to be deterring student housing developers from adding more upscale apartments to the market. Enrollment is "expected to slow down but not decrease," Brandt Stiles, director of development for Collegiate Housing Partners, told the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission earlier this month. "We're still expecting steady growth for the next five years." A growing student body at MU is a bet that student housing developers from Texas to St. Louis to Rhode Island put money on.
Florida Atlantic rehires adjunct at center of controversy over class exercise
Florida Atlantic University on Friday announced that it was rehiring Deandre Poole -- who was at the center of what was called the "stomping on Jesus" controversy -- as an adjunct instructor in communications for the summer and fall terms. The university administrator who made the decision, asked if Poole had done anything wrong, said -- without hesitation -- "No." Further, the university is backing away from statements it made at the time the controversy broke out that said the exercise in question could never again be used at Florida Atlantic. University officials said that their guide for discussing future use of the exercise would be a Faculty Senate investigation of the controversy, released Thursday, that found that the class in question was entirely appropriate, and that senior administrators at the university had "dismally failed" to protect academic freedom.
Higher-Education Groups Unveil Alternative to Federal Student-Success Measures
Six major higher-education associations have teamed up to develop a new method of measuring student success that provides a more comprehensive look at how students progress through college and how many of them eventually graduate. Beginning on Monday, colleges seeking a voluntary alternative to the federal government's method of calculating completion can sign on to the Student Achievement Measure. Using information from the National Student Clearinghouse, they will be able to post data that includes graduation rates for transfer students and, for two-year colleges, those attending part time. Students who are still enrolled at the end of the tracking period will also be included. The effort comes at a time when a growing number of states are passing laws tying a portion of colleges' appropriations to performance measures, including graduation and completion rates.
SMTTT means stand for Southern Miss | Chuck Scianna (Opinion)
Chuck Scianna, a Southern Miss alum and president and co-founder of SIM-TEX, writes in the Hattiesburg American: "Dear Fellow Alumni of the University of Southern Mississippi, Due to the recent announcement by Dr. Rodney Bennett that Jeff Hammond would not remain as our athletic director I experienced the following: I strongly disagree with his decision -- but I am a Golden Eagle. I am mad as hell -- but I am a Golden Eagle. I want to walk away from the university -- but I am a Golden Eagle. When Jeff was appointed AD, others who profess to be Golden Eagles walked away from athletics and Southern Miss. I will not walk away."

Bulldogs, Bruins begin national championship series tonight
For all the similarities between how UCLA and Mississippi State play baseball, it's the differences that delight John Cohen. The fifth-year MSU head coach stood next to UCLA's John Savage on Sunday as cameras snapped, the prize they both have sought resting on the table in front of them: The NCAA baseball championship trophy. Each team's quest for that piece of hardware concludes this week at TD Ameritrade Park, when the Bulldogs (51-18) and Bruins (47-17) meet in the best-of-three College World Series finals. First pitch for tonight's Game 1 is scheduled for 7, and it'll be seen on ESPN.
Culture Clash: Small-town MSU, big-city UCLA battle for 1st CWS title
On the eve of the biggest baseball series in Mississippi State history --- heck, the biggest sporting event in school history for that matter -- head coach John Cohen arrived at the podium wearing an interlocking 'M' and 'S' maroon baseball cap. When he discarded the hat, it revealed a mangled mess of hat hair matted in no particular direction. Beside him sat UCLA coach John Savage. The gel in his slicked back hair allowed for a glistening look under the lights. When he rose from his seat, he displayed a short-sleeved jacket. Four gold letters spelled his school's name on the pristine blue warmup. Cohen symbolized the southern drawl, small-town feel of southern Starkville living. Savage represented UCLA, a campus that sits among the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles. Between them stood the reason they traveled from different parts of the country --- the 2013 College World Series trophy.
Mississippi State faithful cling to lucky rituals, rites
Starkville resident Kim Dier does not believe that she is an overly superstitious person. Yet, there she was following the same pre-game routine before each of the Mississippi State University baseball team's victories over the University of Virginia at the Charlottesville Super Regional. "We had a big group of MSU fans in our section," Dier said. "We sat in the same seats every day. I also made sure that I did everything the same way I was doing before the game. Even though it was a two-game series, we played for three days. After winning the first game, it was important that we keep the momentum up, so all of us in our section made sure to follow the exact same routine." Now the pre-game rituals have turned even more serious as the Bulldogs begin play in the College World Series national championship series.
Bulldogs, Bruins meet the press on eve of title series
After a photo-op with the trophy they're both trying to win this week, MSU coach John Cohen and UCLA coach John Savage sat down, flanked by two players each, and then everybody said nice things about each other. The mutual respect these teams have for each other was on full display during the pre-championship press conference. The Bulldogs and Bruins are both rather surprising entrants in this series, neither having been a national seed for the NCAA tournament. But their styles of play, which are quite similar, carried them to super regional road victories and 3-0 starts here at TD Ameritrade Park.
Elusive crown within reach for Bulldogs, Bruins
Neither UCLA nor Mississippi State has been one of the 24 schools that won its last game of the season in Omaha. That will change Tuesday or Wednesday when players from either UCLA or Mississippi State dogpile at TD Ameritrade to celebrate winning the national championship. John Cohen was a player on the 1990 Mississippi State team that went 1-2 in Omaha. He said he is obviously honored to be the coach 23 years later who could bring an end to the frustration one of college baseball's most intense fan bases has experienced over the years.
Two more steps on Bulldog journey
Mississippi State first baseman Wes Rea received a reminder from back home a couple of days ago that gives him a sense of what's at stake over the next few days in Omaha. Rea's buddy works for a seed company in Starkville, Miss. He and some co-workers were busy in the fields when the Bulldogs locked up their spot in the College World Series championship final with Friday's win over Oregon State. "He called me after we won and said he looked across the cornfield and everybody was jumping around, going crazy,'' Rea said. "That is the kind of thing people are doing back home." Rea and his teammates want to give Bulldog Nation even more reason to celebrate.
CWS Finals Preview: UCLA Faces Mississippi State In Cultural Clash
Two of the nation's best bullpens face off in the Finals, as Jonathan Holder leads Mississippi State against UCLA. Otherwise, the teams are very different.
2013 College World Series: Five questions for UCLA Bruins and Mississippi State Bulldogs
From the beginning, a sense of exceptionalism hovered over the College World Series. There was something of everything. We had perennial powers (North Carolina, LSU), teams that have waited decades or forever for this (NC State, Indiana), a team that won titles its previous two times here (Oregon State) and five conferences (SEC, Pac-12, ACC, Big Ten, Big East). We had compelling stories, but nobody rode in on the bare back of luck. All eight teams hosted regionals and proved their worth. So we should have been prepared for anything, shielded completely from surprise. And yet, who had both UCLA and Mississippi State playing for the national championship? Neither team entered Omaha as the favorite in its bracket. Both have deep, festering wounds that would be fatal for most other clubs. But here they are, both undefeated at the College World Series and proving true something we've always known to be: You don't have to be perfect to be a champion.
Senior catcher puts 'Ammo' in MSU pitching staff
Nick Ammirati's maturation began on a 1-1 curveball thrown by Preston Brown. Mississippi State trailed by three in its March 16 game against No. 2 LSU in Starkville when the Tigers' Alex Bregman stepped up to the plate with two runners on in the ninth inning. In his previous four at-bats of the game, the Bulldogs had retired the freshman, who finished the season ranked third nationally with 104 hits. As Ammirati squatted behind the plate for Bregman's fifth at-bat, he heard MSU pitching coach Butch Thompson's voice in his head.
Mississippi State's Renfroe got a little help with HR
Baseball skills aside, Mississippi State's greatest talent might lie in fortune telling. In the last 49 days, a span which includes 21 games, the Bulldogs' bats have produced two home runs. In both circumstances, MSU called its shots. Associate head coach and pitching coach Butch Thompson predicted Wes Rea's home run against Virginia in the super regionals on June 9. The sophomore's blast gave Mississippi State a 3-1 lead in its eventual 6-5 win. Rea returned the favor for MSU's latest long ball, a Hunter Renfroe three-run homer in a 4-1 win against Oregon State on Friday that clinched a spot in the College World Series final.
MSU lefty Girodo finds the right angle
Butch Thompson was nudging Chad Girodo in a certain direction, but he wasn't going to force anything. Eventually, Girodo figured it out. As a result, opposing hitters have had a devil of a time figuring out Girodo, whose sweeping slider has made him a huge factor during Mississippi State's deep postseason run. The senior left-hander should play a big role this week when MSU (51-18) battles UCLA (47-17) in the College World Series finals, a best-of-three series that starts tonight.
Moreland keeping watch on CWS Bulldgos
Former Mississippi State Bulldog Mitch Moreland is making sure all his Texas Rangers teammates keep up with the Bulldogs in Omaha. "I had it on pretty much every TV in the clubhouse watching them advance to the finals," Moreland said before a game at St. Louis Saturday. The Rangers starting first baseman was a member of the 2007 team that last went to Omaha. His team lost in two games, but this team is two wins away from a national championship.
Mississippi State baseball steps out of long shadow cast by star-studded 1985 club
The star-studded 1985 Mississippi State baseball team has cast a long shadow over every Bulldogs club that followed. Now the 2013 team is poised to do what no other Mississippi State team in any sport has done -- win a national championship. "They feel like they're on a mission," Bulldogs coach John Cohen said Saturday. "They feel like things are coming together for them and they want it all."
Graveman's strong start sets MSU on title path
Kendall Graveman told the Mississippi State University coaches Friday morning he didn't feel as physically strong as he did prior to previous starts. MSU coaches John Cohen and Butch Thompson weren't worried. "I knew Kendall would try to live in the 88-89 mph zone that we've preached to him because he had no choice," Cohen said. "I knew Kendall Graveman would be at his best the moment he said that. He didn't realize it because he's an 18- to 22-year-old young man that doesn't know what his strengths are yet. I'll say this, though, he sure learned a lot Friday night about himself and his leadership abilities." In the process, Graveman helped MSU make history.
Former Bulldog Masters providing divine assistance
Go ahead and call it a divine intervention. Whatever you call it, Mississippi State University baseball coach John Cohen was going to make sure all of the religious affiliations were in his team's corner. At a Thursday morning practice before the most important game in the program's history, Cohen turned to a former teammate and close friend to give an inspirational speech to his team. Cohen didn't turn to any teammate. He turned to a man who delivered MSU to the College World Series in 1990 with one of the most famous athletic accomplishments in school history. Cohen turned to Burke Masters, or as he's known in Joliet, Ill., Father Burke Masters.
Renfroe shows big ballpark can't hold him
Mississippi State University coach John Cohen is constantly talking about Hunter Renfroe doing things on a baseball field normal athletes just can't do. By hitting only the third home run in the first 11 games of the College World Series, Renfroe's shocked everyone again. His three-run home run into the left-field bullpen at TD Ameritrade Park helped secure MSU's 4-1 victory in the bracket one championship game against No. 3 national seed Oregon State University. The victory clinched the Bulldogs' first berth in the College World Series championship series. MSU will take on UCLA at 7 p.m. Monday (ESPN) in game one of the best-of-three series for the opportunity to win the school's first national championship in any sport.
Renfroe, Graveman play key roles in victory
For the first time in school history, the Mississippi State University baseball team will play for a national championship. After a 4-1 victory against No. 3 national seed Oregon State University on Friday afternoon in the bracket one championship game at the College World Series, MSU (51-18) will play UCLA (47-17) in the best-of-three national championship series. "I think these guys really believe something is going to happen that's going to allow us to win a game," MSU coach John Cohen said. "Our kids just believe something good is going to happen, and it has." Prior to this season, the most victories MSU had earned in Omaha, Neb., was two. The 1985 team that accomplished that feat lost its next two games and was eliminated.
MSU, UCLA feel ballpark plays to their strengths
The final teams in the College World Series feel the large dimensions of TD Ameritrade Park play to their styles. The large ballpark in Omaha, Neb., which has yielded only three home runs, has become a haven to Mississippi State University and UCLA, which rely on pitching and defense, and have a respect for the other team's style of play. "You've seen throughout the tournament that they've dominated with incredible defense and a unbelievable bullpen," UCLA coach John Savage said. "I have so much respect for what (MSU coach) John (Cohen) and MSU (pitching coach) Butch Thompson have done in recruiting at recognizing the changing development in college baseball."
Rea doesn't regret decision to play baseball
Three years ago, Wes Rea made a brave decision for a young man in the Southeast. Today, he feels that decision has been validated. A four-star prospect in football, Rea was told to give up baseball, the sport he loved more than any other, to play football, the sport that many believe matters more in this region. The 17-year-old Rea had scholarship offers to play football at 11 Southeastern Conference schools and other powers in the sport such as the University of Nebraska, but he shut down his football recruiting to play baseball at Mississippi State University. It was a decision many in the football-crazy region doubted, but with MSU one game away from a chance to play for a national title, Rea hasn't regretted his choice.
Holder brings drama, history to closer's role for Bulldogs
Two lines in the song that plays as Jonathan Holder leaves the bullpen and walks to the mound at Dudy Noble Field say everything Mississippi State University baseball fans feel about the sophomore closer. "He called my name and my heart stood still. When he said, 'John go do my will.'" The sound of Johnny Cash's "God's Gonna Cut You Down" signals Holder's arrival and means MSU is close to another victory. "It's a feeling for us, too," MSU junior shortstop Adam Frazier said. "There's a collective feeling of OK, we've got this because we have a lead and Johnathan Holder is coming into the game. We just play at a higher level."
Darlin' Dawgs: MSU becomes Omaha's adopted team
Fans of the Mississippi State University baseball program are not the only ones changing plans and headed in another direction. Ashley Huddleston runs The Fan Express, a novelty shop and souvenir store adjacent to TD Ameritrade Park, site of the 2013 College World Series. While the Bulldogs have had three days off in between games, the time has come in handy for Huddleston. "I picked up the phone Tuesday and ordered about 2,000 more MSU T-shirts," Huddleston said. "We know they have a passionate fan base. It is our understanding they plan to pack the stadium out. We don't want to miss any sales and we don't want fans to come to the ballpark and not have their team on display."
South Alabama's Calvi says Mississippi State team has 'it' factor as CWS finals approach
South Alabama head coach Mark Calvi knows what a College World Series championship team looks like; he was the pitching coach when South Carolina won the title in 2010. With that as a gauge, he said he likes what he sees in Mississippi State, a team that twice defeated his Jaguars this season, including in the NCAA Tournament Starkville Regional. "They kind of remind me of the 2010 South Carolina team,'' Calvi said Sunday. "They're a little bit different, but they remind me a lot of those guys in that they have the 'it' factor."
Hotard: Mississippi State, UCLA fitting CWS finalists
On the final play of the first game at this year's College World Series, Oregon State's Danny Hayes sent long fly ball to right field, bringing the crowd at TD Ameritrade Park to its feet. Runners were at first and second. It appeared Hayes had gotten enough of Mississippi State closer Jonathan Holder's two-out offering to turn a 5-4 deficit into a dramatic 7-5 win. But the ball died in Hunter Renfroe's glove for the final out. As we await the start of the CWS championship series beginning Monday night, we may have a hard time finding a single play that will better epitomize a tournament that has been characterized by plenty of close games decided by pitching and defense, and a tournament that has featured just three home runs in 20 games. It is fitting that Mississippi State and UCLA are the last teams standing, considering those teams have shown the most late-inning grit of anyone that reported to TD Ameritrade Park for college baseball's signature event.
Bruins try to make own mark in Westwood
On the baseball diamond, they're cornered by the Angels -- with Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton -- and Magic Johnson's Dodgers. When their season started, Dwight Howard's ego and Kobe Bryant's ankle overshadowed them. And most fans can locate the Clippers' Lob City more easily on a map. Heck, even the Kings' run in the NHL Playoffs took precedence. So, has UCLA's run to the College World Series finals been overlooked by a Los Angeles fanbase with so many teams to pull for? "Not at all, I mean there's only 12 professional teams in Southern California," UCLA's Kevin Williams said with a smile. "But we've got our fans here. We've got people supporting us back in Westwood and LA and all over the country."
MSU's Omaha journey joins 1996 Final Four run | Gene Phelps (Opinion)
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Gene Phelps writes: "Mississippi's college athletic teams seem to suffer from an identity crisis when it comes to the national media, official and unofficial apparel vendors ...heck, even the NCAA. Maybe, just maybe, that all changes this week when Mississippi State's storied baseball program plays for its first national championship at the College World Series in Omaha. The last time MSU found itself in this bright of a national sports spotlight was in 1996, when the men's basketball team -- coached by Richard Williams and powered by Dontae Jones, Erick Dampier and Darryl Wilson -- reached the Final Four."
Magic moments tell story of Bulldogs' season | Brad Locke (Opinion)
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Brad Locke writes: "A whole lot goes into the kind of run Mississippi State has made to the College World Series finals. It's hard to narrow it down to just a few moments. But I'm going to try anyway, and what I hope is that this will give you a snapshot of how MSU got to Omaha, where it faces UCLA in the best-of-three title series starting Monday."
Vann Hall demolished to clear room for new construction at USM
It was home-away-from home to the thousands that tromped through its three stories, its doors opening to signal the start of a new Southern Miss school calendar. And if the walls could talk, they would echo with the tales of young men coming of age as they struggled and competed and failed and triumphed on fields and courts and diamonds and classrooms. But the walls are gone, reduced to rubble and removed to make way for the second stage of a more modern dormitory complex that will house a flurry of freshmen for years to come. Vann Hall is no more. The building that served as USM's athletic dormitory for more than 40 years is now an empty space that will be reconfigured as part of the Century Park South project.

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