Wednesday, August 7, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
Oktibbeha County schools to improve?
Dr. Margie Pulley has a monumental task before her. As the leader of the failing Oktibbeha County School District, she must find a way to get everyone on board. She is optimistic. She says much is being done to enhance the teacher's performance in the classroom. Mississippi State University educators are serving as mentors. "They provide professional development, but they also come in and observe our classes and give our teachers feedback, and they come in and do lessons with our teachers and our students," teacher Courtney Honnoll said.
Hardwick Keeps State Post
Phil Hardwick, coordinator of capacity development at the John C. Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University, has been elected to the MAPE Board of Directors for the 2013-14 term. Hardwick is past president of MAPE and has served on the board for several years. "One of the best economic development projects is improvement of local schools through school-community partnerships," Hardwick said. "That's what MAPE is all about, and it's why I continue to be involved with MAPE."
MSU Riley Center Ticket Schedule
Tickets for the upcoming fall and winter season of shows at the MSU Riley Center in downtown Meridian will soon be available for purchase by the general public. Current season ticket holders may renew their subscriptions until Aug. 7. The new season subscriptions go on sale Aug. 12. Ticket sales have been steady, according to box office manager, Derron Radcliff. "So far, it's going good. It's about average right now since we are just in renewals," said Radcliff. "Usually when we get to pick 3 sales when we find out exactly how sales are going but the response has been great so far. So far, we've only heard positive things about this season."
MSU Extension cooks up healthy living with kids
The smells associated with healthy diets filled the Mississippi State Extension Service July 26 as participants of the Kids in the Kitchen program received hands-on lessons on kitchen safety, nutrition and making wise choices in food. "It's a program we do every summer to give kids the opportunity to taste foods they may not get at home and maybe influence their parents' diets. One day these kids are going to be parents and this program helps them to know how to prepare meals when they're young," said Extension EFNEP youth educator Naomi Fulton.
OCH announces expansion of its pain management care
OCH Regional Medical Center is pleased to announce that it will expand its pain management care by opening a clinic this August. Pain management services are currently provided by George M. Hammitt, III, MD, and Katie Thomas, CFNP, and now Jackson L. Walters, MD, has joined the OCH staff to offer full-time services at the OCH Center for Pain Management. "I completed my undergraduate at Mississippi State with a major in mathematics and a minor in chemistry, so Starkville is home for me and my family. I am excited to be getting back to a small town and working with a community hospital," Walters said. Dr. Walters is originally from Clarksdale and a true Mississippi State University Bulldog at heart.
Greater Starkville Development Partnership hires Barret as new membership director
The Greater Starkville Development Partnership named Heath Barret, the Mississippi State University coordinator of transfer recruitment, as its newest director of membership development, CEO Jennifer Gregory announced Monday. Barret will join the Partnership on Aug. 19. He will help with new membership recruitment, member retention and other Chamber of Commerce planning and goal implementation. Barret served with the MSU Department of Admissions and Scholarships since 2006 as the university continued posting record enrollment numbers.
Partnership taps Barret for new Chamber job
After an extensive search, the Greater Starkville Development Partnership tapped Heath Barret to serve as the new director of membership development for the Chamber of Commerce. Barret, a Starkville resident, has spent the last seven years working in Mississippi State University's Office of Admissions and Scholarships as a coordinator for transfer and recruitment. Prior to his time with MSU, Barret worked in sales. The combination of the two skill sets made Barret the clear choice for the position, said Partnership CEO Jennifer Gregory.
Wichita State engineering dean finalists to be on campus
Three finalists who want to run Wichita State University's College of Engineering are heading to the campus next week to talk about the job, university officials said. They will visit with administrators, faculty and students. They include Royce Bowden Jr., currently associate dean for academic affairs for the Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State University. Bowden will visit WSU Aug. 14-16.
City operating under 'throwback' commission-style government
Its cannons, historic homes and landmarks aren't Vicksburg's only throwback to history. Its municipal government is a relic from when the city was younger, smaller and the issues confronting city leaders were easier to handle. Since 1913, Vicksburg has operated under the commission form of government approved by the Mississippi Legislature in 1908. It's a concept of municipal government that uses a three-member commission with one member serving as mayor and the other commissioners are over different city departments. At one time, the form of government was popular for the majority of the state's cities. In the mid-1980s, however, most changed to other forms because the commission form proved either too cumbersome or because its at-large election of commissioners did not pass the one-man, one-vote test under the federal Voting Rights Act, said Marty Wiseman, director of the John C. Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University.
Capella's OCH lease offer includes $45M in cash
Capella Healthcare offered $45 million upfront for a 50-year OCH Regional Medical Center lease and pledged to keep all active employees, documents show. The Dispatch obtained a portion of the Franklin, Tenn.-based company's April offer Monday, which pledged Capella's commitment "to provide necessary capital for strategic initiatives, physician recruitment and equipment, technology and facility enhancements." The offer also said Capella would "commit to employ all active employees at current or improved salary levels," offer extensive benefits and honor accrued vacation time. No other payments were indicated in the proposal obtained by the Dispatch.
Chaney: State must prepare for health law changes
Like it or not, individuals and business need to get up to speed on the Affordable Care Act. "It's important that you understand what changes are coming," said Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, who was among several speakers at the annual HealthLink Managed Care Conference in Tupelo Tuesday. Nearly 200 people -- human resource managers, medical providers, insurance agents and others -- gathered to dig into the details.
Later Mississippi public school openings begin in 2014
Many Mississippi public school students are starting class this week, but they won't be starting this early next year. That's because the Mississippi Legislature passed a law in 2012 that says public school districts can start no earlier than the third Monday in August. In any given year, that day can fall somewhere between Aug. 15 and Aug 21. Next year it will be Aug. 18. The law, similar to those passed in other states, is meant to boost tourism spending by encouraging a longer summer. The Gulf Coast Business Council, a Gulfport-based business group, helped push through the law. A 2010 council study predicted later school openings would raise Mississippi tourism spending by $100 million, as well as create another $40 million in indirect benefits. However, some districts may extend schedules into June, cutting into the beginning of summer vacation. Legally, Mississippi districts must still provide 180 days of instruction, meaning the only other way to comply is to cut holidays during the school year.
Interim superintendent will serve on charter board
Interim state Superintendent of Education Lynn House will serve on the new Charter School Authorizer Board, but probably only until a new permanent superintendent is named. Spokeswoman Patrice Guilfoyle said Monday that the state Board of Education agreed without a vote at its July meeting that House should take the post. The law expanding Mississippi charter schools gives an appointment to the superintendent, not the board, but House had said she wanted to consult the board.
Small group of protesters picket Pickering in Ocean Springs
A small, but spirited group of protesters turned out on East Beach in Ocean Springs to picket Mississippi State Auditor Stacey Pickering for what they perceive to be a conflict of interest arising from a fundraiser held at a residence there Tuesday evening. "I'm concerned about the corruptness that continues to go on," said D'Iberville resident Carol Lightner as she held a sign which read "Audit All Y'all." "John Grisham couldn't write a book about this, because you can't make this stuff up. It's the taxpayers money and it's the poor fishermen who suffer. I'm sick of it and so is everybody else." In general terms, the protesters believe it was a conflict of interest for Pickering to have a fundraiser hosted by people who are thought to be friends or have done business with former Department of Marine Resources Executive Director Bill Walker, who was fired by the Commission on Marine Resources in January amid allegations of misspending. The DMR is still under investigation by Pickering's office.
State representative urges release of watchdog report on state port
State Rep. Sonya Williams Barnes is urging legislators who serve on a state watchdog panel to release a report on state port expansion. The Legislature's Joint Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review has completed the report on the port's management of $570 million in federal funds for restoration and expansion. A big question has been whether the work will produce the 1,200 jobs required in exchange for federal funding provided through the Community Development Block Grant Program. PEER Director Max Arinder said the report has been on the committee's agenda since June, but no decision on its release has been made. PEER met Tuesday without official action, but convenes again this morning.
Closing costs in Mississippi among lowest in nation, study shows
If you need a little extra push toward buying that new home, you can pay a lot less to close on the deal in Mississippi than most other states, according to financial website Mississippians pay an average of $2,320 in origination and third-party fees when closing, the 14th-lowest such figure in the U.S., according to an annual survey from Bankrate. Of course, whether each person closing on a home recently in the state will pay more or less that amount will vary greatly. Some lenders, for example, charge an application fee, Bankrate says, but others don't.
Broad U.S. terror alert mystifies experts; 'It's crazy pants,' one says
U.S. officials insisted Tuesday that extraordinary security measures for nearly two dozen diplomatic posts were to thwart an "immediate, specific threat," a claim questioned by counterterrorism experts, who note that the alert covers an incongruous set of nations from the Middle East to an island off the southern coast of Africa. If ordinary Americans are confused, they're in good company. Analysts who've devoted their careers to studying al Qaida and U.S. counterterrorism strategy can't really make sense of it, either. There's general agreement that the diffuse list of potential targets has to do with either specific connections authorities are tracking, or places that might lack the defenses to ward off an attack. Beyond that, however, even the experts are stumped.
Teacher Corps' latest group largest since launch
A state-sponsored program designed to train non-education majors as teachers rolled out its largest class in its 24-year history this summer. The Mississippi Teacher Corps recruits top graduates from around the nation, leading them to some of the state's most challenging classrooms after two months of training and ongoing education. This year, 32 newly licensed teachers completed the summer training held at the University of Mississippi's College of Education. More than half are math or science teachers, and all will teach in a critical-needs school in the northern or central parts of the state.
Bringing research dollars, treatment to cancer fight
The University of Mississippi Medical Center Cancer Institute has long been a Mecca for patients who want access to cutting edge cancer treatments. And in the four years since prominent cancer researcher Dr. Lucio Miele has been at the helm as director, it is also increasingly becoming a draw for millions of dollars in cancer research funds. The amount of research dollars attracted by the Cancer Institute, which is ranked among the top cancer hospitals by U.S. News and World Report for the third year in a row, has gone from very little to close to $5 million per year in direct grants. "This was done primarily through the recruitment of very successful scientists from all over the country, and some internal recruitment in Mississippi from University of Mississippi scientists who were isolated in pockets of excellence," Miele said. "These scientists have now been organized in a coherent structure so they can interact with one another."
Sid Williams graduates top of journalism class at Ole Miss
Being number one is nothing new for Sidney Williams, who graduated as valedictorian of Philadelphia High School Class of 2009. Now a graduate of the University of Mississippi, Williams was number one academically in his class from the Meek School of Journalism. What's more, he was named a Taylor Medalist, the University's highest academic honor. "I didn't even know they had rankings in college," said Williams, the son of Mickie and Sid Williams of Philadelphia. "Here I was sitting in a room of some of the University's brightest students, only to hear my name called out as the undergraduate with the highest student ranking." Williams earned a bachelor of arts in journalism at Ole Miss, with a broadcast emphasis and a specialization in public relations.
Belhaven University's Fitzhugh Hall opens as new science, math building
Even though there's still a couple of weeks before fall semester, a handful of Belhaven University students already were back on campus Tuesday, helping professors prepare new science labs for classes. The labs are part of a recently finished project on campus, a yearlong $6 million project where the 100-plus-year-old Fitzhugh Hall was partially renovated and expanded following water damage to parts of the building and foundation, said spokesman David Sprayberry. The expansion to Fitzhugh not only meant updated facilities and more space, but it was also a joint effort of different science disciplines to work together, ushering the school's program into a more modern science, said Reid Bishop, a chemistry professor and chair of the division of science and mathematics.
The ultimate Hi-Stepper: Anna Bee, legendary founder of Hinds dance line, dead at 91
Anna Cowden Bee, iconic founder and decades-long leader of the Hinds Community College Hi-Steppers, died Tuesday morning at Brandon Court nursing home in Brandon, where she'd been residing. "We will certainly miss her. She was a sweetie," her son, Alon Bee, said. HCC President Clyde Muse said, "Mrs. Bee is likely the most iconic individual in the nearly 100-year history of this institution. She was the epitome of a gracious Southern lady, but possessed a tremendous tenacity that was hard to refuse when it came to protecting the interests of the Hi-Steppers and the young ladies she called, 'my girls.' She was a great friend to Vashti and me, and there was a void at the college that will never be replicated or replaced."
U. of Alabama to offer software engineering concentration
The University of Alabama will begin offering a software engineering concentration this fall, the sixth degree option available within the computer science program. According to the CS website, the concentration's creation is in response to the growing demand for "skilled, creative technology workers." Students working toward a computer science degree have been able to take software engineering courses for some time, but the new concentration will officially recognize software expertise, according to a UA press release.
U. of Florida asks Gator Nation for $800 million to achieve pre-eminence
Less than a year after closing the books on its most ambitious fundraising drive, the University of Florida on Tuesday announced it will be asking once again for alumni, professors, students and friends of the Gator Nation to open their checkbooks. The university and the UF Foundation this week launched its "Pre-eminence Initiative," which is meant to complement a similar designation bestowed upon the university in June by the Florida Board of Governors. The goal is to raise $800 million over the next three years to create more than 100 endowed professorships and chairs to attract distinguished research professors to UF to help it become one of the nation's top 10 public research universities.
U. of Florida still reviewing application of ex-U. of Kentucky surgeon
University of Florida Health Shands Hospital is continuing to review the application of Dr. Mark Plunkett, a cardiothoracic surgeon from the University of Kentucky who has come under recent scrutiny following a CNN report last weekend on the UK hospital's insistence on shielding the infant mortality rate of the surgery department that Plunkett led. "Our review of Dr. Plunkett's application is ongoing as we continue to follow our standard processes," Dr. Tim Flynn, the chief medical officer of Shands, said in an email. "His hiring is contingent in part on his obtaining a Florida medical license and completing our credentialing process, which has not yet occurred." The surgery program at UK was suspended late last year for reasons that have not been entirely publicly disclosed.
Business incubator set up to grow Baton Rouge biotechnology companies
A business incubator focused on developing local biotechnology companies has its first four tenants at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge. The BioTech Initiative, a partnership between Pennington and the LSU Louisiana Business and Technology Center, will help grow companies that harness technological advances to improve patient health and care and control health care costs, the two organizations said Tuesday.
Thousands of U. of Georgia students moving back into dorms
University of Georgia classes don't begin until Monday, but thousands of students already are pouring into town. That was easy to tell Tuesday morning on Baxter Street and Milledge Avenue, where traffic slowed to a crawl as hundreds of students checked into UGA's high-rise dorms on Baxter Street. The residence halls opened at 8 a.m., but the lines began forming at 6 a.m. on Baxter Street, said UGA Director of University Housing Gerry Kowalski. Students will have filled 40 percent to 50 percent of UGA's roughly 7,700 undergraduate housing beds by the end of the day, he said. By the end of today, they'll be close to 70 percent full.
Texas A&M System Board of Regents to discuss budgets, top-level jobs
The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents is set to approve upcoming budgets, begin the process of selecting a new president for its flagship institution and create a new executive vice chancellor position. The regents will meet Wednesday and Thursday to discuss and vote on the topics. The regents will consider creation of a right-hand man of sorts for System Chancellor John Sharp, an executive vice chancellor and chief financial officer. The system's six vice chancellors would report to the new position, which would be directly accountable to the chancellor. The man tapped to fill the lofty spot is Billy C. Hamilton, who worked for Sharp during his tenure as Texas comptroller. Hamilton received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Texas and spent more than 25 years working in the comptroller's office. After leaving the comptroller's office in 2006, Hamilton has operated a private consulting practice focusing on tax, policy research, management and government business strategy.
Texas A&M dean Crocker named to Broadcasting Board of Governors
Ryan Crocker, dean of Texas A&M's Bush School of Government and Public Service, has been named one of three new members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. The board of governors is an independent, bipartisan federal agency that supervises government-supported civilian international media. As a former ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait and Lebanon, Crocker's career as a foreign-service specialist spans 37 years. The dean also is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Board of Trustees of Whitman College.
Beef Cattle Short Course at Texas A&M lassoes ranchers
A rugged, elderly gentleman with a thick, white mustache and gray hair billowing from his cowboy hat tugged on the reins of his horse as he rode off into the sunset in a crisp, white shirt, starched jeans and a $300 pair of boots. "This is a dream probably many of us have," said Dr. Bruce Carpenter, an associate professor at Texas A&M, as he flipped to the Hollywood portrayal of the rancher. "In reality, how much of your time in cattle operation is spent doing that? Truthfully, probably less than 10 percent of your time is spent doing that. Another 80 percent of your time is spent repairing those fences in the foreground and fightin' that mesquite in the background." Carpenter, an AgriLife Extension livestock specialist, along with Dr. Ron Gill, also a Texas A&M professor and extension livestock specialist, delivered the "Retiring to Ranching" presentation to a room full of 100-plus attendees as part of the 59th Annual Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course.
U. of Missouri enrollment down in key groups
The University of Missouri's fall 2013 freshman class is shaping up to the be second-largest in campus history, but it won't break records for its diversity or high test scores. A memo Ann Korschgen, vice provost for enrollment management, and Director of Admissions Barbara Rupp sent to administrators, deans, department chairs and others said MU is losing more students to colleges and universities offering larger scholarships than in previous years. In the memo, Korschgen and Rupp said the largest declines were among the highest achieving students. MU has received 168 fewer deposits from students with ACT scores of 30 or more compared to last year (36 is the highest score), and 83 fewer than in fall 2011. Director of Financial Aid Nick Prewett said recruiting high-ability students is essential to MU's success.
U. of Arkansas' Walton College, J.B. Hunt Host Supply Chain Forum
Nearly 300 sales executives from across the United States who work for J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. attended the company's supply chain forum July 30-Aug. 1 on the University of Arkansas campus. The forum was organized and hosted by the department of supply chain management in the Sam M. Walton College of Business. "We are honored that the company chose the Walton College as the place to hold this event for their sales executives," said Eli Jones, dean of the Walton College. The forum sessions covered topics ranging from sales to logistics outsourcing to global trends in supply chain management.
New U. of South Carolina student housing plan goes before Columbia design board
A Columbia developer will present new plans for a nearly 600-bed student housing project at the intersection of Huger and Blossom streets to a Columbia design review board on Thursday. Ben Arnold's proposed four- and five-story complex would have a mix of facades, including stucco finish, composite panel, brick veneer and corrugated metal. The plan calls for a parking garage, cafe, pool, fitness center and two internal courtyards. The project, which would be located at one of Columbia's key entryways, is one of four student housing complexes approved or proposed for downtown in what is considered a student housing boom.
North Carolina law that ends pay raises for teachers with master's degrees a blow to college finances
A master's degree in teaching costs about $6,400 a semester for a full-time North Carolina resident attending East Carolina University's College of Education, meaning a four-semester program would cost about $26,000. But, according to the North Carolina state legislature, that doesn't mean it's worth anything. In the most recent state budget passed by the state legislature and signed by the governor last week, North Carolina lawmakers eliminated a provision that granted automatic pay raises to public school teachers who completed master's degrees. The elimination of the benefit could have a significant effect on enrollment in education schools at North Carolina colleges and universities. And since many of those programs generate net revenues for the institutions, enrollment declines could affect their bottom lines. North Carolina's move could also clear the way for other states to take similar steps.
EDITORIAL: PEER sits on report about port
The Sun Herald editorializes: "The Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review is proving to be somewhat less than peerless when it comes to oversight of the Port at Gulfport. PEER says it 'provides the Legislature with timely and accurate information on Mississippi state government in order to enable that body to perform its function of legislative oversight.' Timely? Then why has the committee for months been sitting on a report about the port, which is the middle of an expansion that has raised nothing but questions about its operation."
Slimantics: Memories of the first day of school | Slim Smith (Opinion)
The Dispatch's Slim Smith writes: "Call it the Half-Million Kid March. Roughly a half-million kids will descend on roughly 1,100 Mississippi public schools to begin the 2013-14 school year on Wednesday. I suspect it will be a controlled chaos and that most of what is learned Wednesday won't be found on the syllabus. Being where you are supposed to be when you are supposed to be there will be the first objective for the kids."
Green Water: Can the U.S. Navy win the eco-arms race? | Ray Mabus (Opinion)
Secretary of the Navy and former Mississippi governor Ray Mabus writes for Foreign Policy: "With domestic oil production up, imports declining, and new oil and gas reserves being discovered, some question whether energy remains, or ever was, a security challenge and military vulnerability for the United States. The rise in oil prices back over $100 per barrel in the wake of Egypt's political turmoil provides a sobering answer. Even if bullish predictions about America becoming energy self-sufficient, even a net exporter, by the 2020s prove true -- a welcome development, no doubt -- energy will continue to play a key role in economic and political stability. Self-sufficiency will not insulate the United States against oil price shocks, as Egypt and, before that, Libya remind us. It also will not lessen global political and economic friction from resource competition or threats to infrastructure and distribution."
BRIAN PERRY: Are you a 'Tater Tot'?
Consultant and columnist Brian Perry writes: "Fairgoers enjoyed a tame political year in this 'off year' election cycle (municipal elections were earlier this summer) at the 2013 Neshoba County Fair. But as always, the Fair provided an opportunity for elected officials to visit with Mississippians and address them and the media. ...Cowbells rang through the Pavilion when Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum addressed the crowd. Additional special guests included Ole Miss Chancellor Dan Jones and East Central Community College President Billy Stewart. ...The Fair is much more than politics, but if politics is your thing, make plans to attend next year when speeches resume July 30 and 31."
BOBBY HARRISON: Subtle words play on the cold wars in state Capitol | Bobby Harrison (Opinion)
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison writes: "Even in a slow year where little news was made, politicians speaking at the historic Neshoba County Fair couldn't help but make comments that a week later still are head scratchers. Take Gov. Phil Bryant, for instance. After his fair speech, while meeting with reporters, during general chit-chat the Republican governor revealed he had just finished reading a book about the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which has been chronicled, often with a great deal of poetic license, in both movies and literature. It was a bit of a head scratcher that the governor showed interest in a famous and bloody confrontation that took part, at least in part, over gun rights."
SID SALTER: Hall: Gutsy Republican again calls for a tax hike and lives to tell about it
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "Central District Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall is a savvy politician who understands that Republicans who call for anything that can be construed as a tax hike usually end up as political road kill in GOP primaries -- yet there Hall stood last week under the old oaks at the Neshoba County Fair repeating his call for an increase in the state's gasoline tax for the second year in a row. ...That advocacy came after Hall beat the drum in speeches for the last several years for state government to realistically assess the growing disparity between the number of Mississippi roads that are in need of maintenance and repair and the funds being generated to pay for that work. Educating Mississippi voters about the problem Hall is talking about will be a tall order. Those voters are struggling with the rising price of fuel and there's not much appetite for any policy changes that would raise the pump price of gas and diesel fuel in the state."

Mullen, Bulldogs dodge rain
Dan Mullen considers himself a "rainmaker." The Mississippi State head football coach has seen nothing but rain this week while out at practice. The Bulldogs moved over to the farm Monday, where things start to get serious. The first two days there have seen nothing but rain. MSU has been forced inside both days. A mid afternoon shower hit on Tuesday, but things were looking good for the Bulldogs late afternoon practice. That wasn't the case. "The farm started to go pretty good," Mullen said after Tuesday's practice. "The weather forecast said at 4:30, it was done raining for the entire day. There was a zero percent chance. That wasn't until about 5:45 and more rain started to come, thunder and lightning. We do the smart thing, which is move inside, and of course then no more storms come at all."
Weather forces Bulldogs inside
Dan Mullen can't catch a break with the weather, but his players haven't let it divert their focus. For the second day in a row, Mississippi State found itself practicing inside the Palmeiro Center instead of out at the South Farm fields on the edge of campus. MSU did get some work done out there Tuesday, but rain and lightning eventually forced the action indoors. Mullen said the Bulldogs didn't let the change of scenery hamper their work. "You go inside, you take that big distraction, come back in, refocus, and get back to work without really missing a step. I was pretty proud of our guys for doing that," Mullen said. MSU is also having to deal with summer classes, which in the past haven't stretched this far into preseason camp. Final exams end Friday.
Experience, leadership return to Mississippi State defense
Mississippi State's roster is among the youngest in the SEC, but the Bulldogs are experienced at linebacker. The biggest loss from last year came with the graduation of Cam Lawrence, but MSU returns a wealth of talent to a young defensive squad. Preseason All-SEC selection Benardrick McKinney will anchor the linebackers after a breakout freshman season. "Being a leader, all of us are just trying to get the young guys to execute the plays, know their assignment and just play hard," McKinney said. "As linebackers, it isn't going to be a one-man role. We're going to work together as a unit to push everybody." According to McKinney, the freshman are adjusting well and his veteran teammates are settling into leadership roles.
Sound practices: MSU's eclectic playlists keep players, coaches in rhythm
The thud of the football colliding with LaDarius Perkins' chest created the only sound in the end zone. Fans lined along the rope heard every word a graduate assistant told the Mississippi State senior fielding kicks: "You want to be moving forward." After a few more reps, the Aug. 2 sun began to melt the energy on the field. The assistant looked at Jon Clark, the assistant athletic director and head of football operations who stood by a 3-foot-tall black speaker and said, "I told Perk you were DJ'ing this morning!" Minutes later, the sound waves emitting from the speaker overcame the rays of the sun as House of Pain's "Jump Around" echoed through the fields behind the Leo Seal Jr. Football Complex.
BRAD LOCKE: No news is good news for Mississippi State | Brad Locke (Opinion)
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Brad Locke writes: "All has been relatively quiet for Mississippi State, with preseason camp rolling along quite nicely. No major injuries, no off-field issues (that we know of), no huge transitions being made, no drama. The same can't be said for the other six teams in the SEC Western Division."
RICK CLEVELAND: Khayat recalls all-star ordeal
Syndicated columnist Rick Cleveland writes: "The NFL preseason begins every year, as it did this past Sunday night, with the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. It was not always so. Once upon a time -- actually 42 times, ending in 1976 -- football began each season with the College All-Star Classic played at Chicago's Soldier Field. The game always matched the defending NFL champions against a team of college all-stars, about to begin their pro football careers. As you might guess, the games often were more mismatch than classic: NFL champs against rookies-to-be. Recently, on a warm, humid Sunday at the Neshoba County Fair, former Ole Miss football star-turned law professor-turned Chancellor Robert Khayat told of his 'defining moment' experience in the 1960 College All-Star Classic played 53 years ago this week. There were eight of us sitting around a table and seven of us about to fall out of chairs laughing."
Auburn installs temporary wire structure for fans to roll at Toomer's Corner
Auburn's tradition of rolling Toomer's Corner has been hold for more than three months. The tradition will continue this fall thanks to the installation of a temporary wire structure at the famous intersection, which serves as a gathering place for Auburn fans to celebrate wins and memorable moments. The city of Auburn installed four wires connecting three concrete poles at the corner Tuesday. The wires meet at the central pole in the triangle, forming a "V" at the intersection. The university removed the live oaks at Toomer's Corner in April after experts determined they could not save the poisoned oaks.
Temporary rolling wires installed at Toomer's Corner
In lieu of oaks at Toomer's Corner, Auburn University fans can now roll four wires installed Tuesday after Auburn athletic victories. Sarah Stark, an Auburn senior in psychology, said while she will miss having live oaks at the corner to roll, she's pleased with the wiring system. "I like the AU symbols between the wires and I like that it brings celebrations into the middle of the intersection instead of just at the corner," Stark said. "I think it'll be interesting to see it used after our first win." The temporary structure was first discussed over a year ago, after the two Toomer's Oaks were poisoned in early 2011. A new redesign of the corner was announced by the university in April, but construction of the finished product will not begin until 2014.
Richt takes cautious route in allowing fans, media access to UGA practices
Fans of Florida, Mississippi State and South Carolina are allowed entry into at least some of their team's preseason football practices. Don't expect Georgia coach Mark Richt to allow an all-access pass to one of his team's workouts this month before the Bulldogs open their season Aug. 31 at Clemson. "I'm not interested in that," Richt said. "You just never know. One little thing can give a clue as to what we're doing and how we're doing it. Information, the less you know, the harder it is to prepare. The more you know, the easier it is to prepare. Especially if you're watching practice."
Knight Commission Proposes Broad Changes in NCAA Governance
Control over college sports should remain in the hands of college presidents, but the makeup of the NCAA's Division I governing boards should be expanded to include former college athletes and public leaders, a new report says. And faculty members should play a greater role. The report, which was produced by the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics as part of an 18-month review of NCAA governance, was delivered on Tuesday to Mark Emmert, the association's president, and members of its Division I Board of Directors. The report reveals "significant concerns" about the NCAA's current governance process, suggesting that it fails to "effectively engage the entire Division I membership, contributing both to a lack of confidence and to a narrowness of perspectives." But the commission did not reach a consensus on how to create a more-inclusive process.

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