Monday, March 3, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
Former Mississippi State University Extension director, William Bost, dies
William Bost, former Mississippi State University Extension director from 1962-81, died Tuesday morning at the age of 90, a release from the university stated. Bost, a World War II veteran and the namesake for the campus building housing MSU agricultural administration, passed away in Tupelo after a lengthy illness. "It was with much sadness that I learned of the passing of Dr. Bill Bost," said MSU President Mark Keenum in a statement. "He was a legendary figure in the history of Mississippi State University and his contributions will be long remembered. I have very fond memories of my interactions with him over the years. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and his many friends in the Extension community."
Longtime Mississippi agriculture leader Bost dies at 90
William Bost, who directed the Mississippi Cooperative Extension Service for nearly two decades, has died at age 90. Bost died Friday at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo, after a long illness. Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum calls Bost a "legendary figure" in the school's history. Bost served in the Navy during World War II. He was ag extension director from 1962-81, and the MSU agricultural administration building is named for him.
MSU Honors 'Firsts' During Black History Celebration
Mississippi State University honored area African-Americans who were the first in their fields. A reception Friday morning wrapped up a two-day event that featured lectures and classroom visits by Earnest Green, one of the nine students who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., in 1957. In addition to paying tribute to Green on Friday, the university honored firsts from the surrounding area, including Philadelphia's first African-American mayor, James Young. Young said, "Today's climate is conducive to prosperity and growth if we just make up our minds to do it."
MSU Celebrates 136th Birthday
The rich tradition at Mississippi State University in Starkville was celebrated Friday in a big way. There were three big cakes to prove it as MSU turned 136 years old. The date coincides with the 1878 anniversary of when legislation was signed, establishing the Mississippi Agricultural And Mechanical College that would become Mississippi State University. During the celebration at the Bull Ring near Colvard Student Union, alumni of the institution reflecting on the past history were excited about the future. "Continuing to be a leader in the state of Mississippi amongst higher education institutions and really tie in to economic development. Trying to get as many students in the pipeline for higher education, so they can make a positive impact on the state," said Jeff Davis of the MSU Alumni Association.
Have you taken the pledge to become a Mississippi Saver?
Mississippi Saves launched its first America Saves Week campaign Monday to promote financial responsibility throughout the nation. As part of the national America Saves effort, Mississippians can save money for a rainy day by taking the pledge to become a Mississippi Saver. Bobbie Shaffett, a family resource management specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said an America Saves study found 63 percent of Americans were making only "fair" or "no" progress in meeting personal savings needs.
MSU Students Help Make Math Class Fun for 3rd Graders
Call it taking the mystery out of math. Some third graders at Ward Stewart Elementary School in Starkville had some special guest instructors, Friday. Mississippi State University math instructor Kim Walters, along with some of her elementary math education students, got a chance to try out some of their more innovative lessons. For Walters, it's a chance to make math less scary to younger children. For her students, it's a chance to get some real classroom teaching experience. But for the third graders, it's mostly about fun.
Higher education briefs: The Neighbourhood to headline festival
Mississippi State's Student Association and the campus Music Maker Productions are bringing The Neighbourhood to perform for the 2014 Old Main Music Festival. Free to all, the festival takes place April 12 at the University Amphitheatre as part of the school's 29th annual Super Bulldog Weekend.
Mississippi gardeners wait and see what winter left behind
Nothing unleashes a gardener's urge to replenish a garden or refill flower beds and pots than the earliest sign of springtime. And after this winter's unusual string of ice, sleet and snow across the state, it might be tempting to rush those shopping trips to nurseries and garden centers to commence the season. But for the next few weeks, cautious gardeners are waiting to see what plants, trees and shrubs made it through the winter and what didn't. Under those pitiful brown leaves might be some signs of life, experts say. Dr. Lelia Kelly of the MSU Extension Service is special advisor to the Mississippi Nursery and Landscape Association. She said that as bad as winter-beaten plants and trees may look now, don't panic.
Ag producers, scientists talk about research, needs
More than 300 north Mississippi agricultural producers met with Mississippi State University representatives to hear research results and recommendations and to express what they need from the university in the coming year. Steve Martin, head of MSU's North Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Verona, said the annual meeting helps keep producers, researchers and Extension specialists on the same page. "Two-way communication is essential to meet the needs of the state's farmers and landowners," Martin said. "We need to know about the challenges they are facing, and they need to hear what we are discovering in our research and our Extension outreach."
Agriculture agent appointed in Pike County
Lamar Adams has been named Extension Service agent for Pike County. The Enterprise-Journal reports Pike County supervisors named Adams to the agriculture post vacated in 2013 by the retirement of Mike Tynes. Adams has been with the Extension Service for 26 years. For the past five years he has worked as state dairy specialist at Mississippi State University.
Meridian CAO McGrevey Looks Ahead to the Future
It was a month ago this week when Meridian Mayor Percy Bland named Mike McGrevey as his new chief administrative officer. McGrevey replaced interim CAO Curt Goldacker. McGrevey has been an economic strategist for several years, from the military to most recently at Mississippi State University. As CAO, McGrevey hopes to improve on economic development, leisure activities, as well as improve the education infrastructure to help build instructional capacity from preschool to twelfth grade. With any job comes challenges and McGrevey sees that as room to grow.
Senate amendment guts House school merger bill
The Senate Education Committee struck the House's Starkville-Oktibbeha school merger bill, HB 833, Thursday, replacing it with its own language reiterating Oktibbeha County School District Conservator Margie Pulley's guidance in 2015's state-mandated unification. The bill now heads to the Senate floor for confirmation. Early in the legislative term, state lawmakers predicted Starkville-Oktibbeha school merger bills would wind up in a conference committee where specific details surrounding the merger will be hammered out by a small band of representatives and senators.
Bond proposals far apart
Bond proposals have passed both the Mississippi House and Senate, but that does not mean the two chambers will agree on a package to send to Gov. Phil Bryant for his signature. Both House and Senate leaders said they want to hold the overall bond package to about $200 million. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, said the state pays off between $200 million to $250 million of its debt each year. The goal, leaders on both sides have said, is that they do not want to increase the state's debt by issuing bonds to finance long-term construction projects. Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves indicated he is disappointed with the size of the House bond package. "We are a long way apart," said Reeves, who presides over the Senate.
Road funding sees no action
Proponents of increased Mississippi highway funding aren't just going to be waiting until 2015. They'll probably be waiting until 2016. A recent legislative watchdog report agreed with Department of Transportation leaders that the state needs hundreds of millions of dollars more each year to maintain existing highways. But with Gov. Phil Bryant and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves explicitly ruling out an increase in fuel taxes, money-raising proposals have gotten nowhere in the 2014 Legislature. The Mississippi Economic Council plans a study looking for solutions to the state's funding shortfall but won't make recommendations until after the 2015 state elections.
Teacher pay raise decision this week?
Mississippi's roughly 30,000 classroom teachers will have a better idea Tuesday about whether they will get a pay raise during the upcoming school year. The Senate Education and Appropriations committees must pass a pay raise proposal by Tuesday for the issue to remain alive during the 2014 session. It is beginning to look like a pay raise will pass those two hurdles, based on the comments of Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who presides over the Senate. On Friday, Reeves said when asked about a teacher pay raise, "We have always said that it is our belief that we need to pay our good teachers more money."
New Trade Mart possible; House bill also contains plans for renovations to aging coliseum
The House has earmarked $55 million in bonds for a new Mississippi Trade Mart and renovations to the aging coliseum on the Mississippi Fairgrounds. The measure, House Bill 1608, has been sent to the Senate. It would pay for repair, renovation and improvements to the Mississippi Coliseum, the demolition of the Trade Mart and the construction of a new one. It also calls for improvements to parking on the Mississippi State Fairgrounds, including, but not limited to, the construction of parking facilities on the location of the existing Mississippi Trade Mart. "It's ready to go," House Ways and Means Chairman Jeff Smith, R-Columbus, said of the project.
Mississippi spends millions to create jobs but leaders want better tracking of results
Mississippi spends uncounted millions each year on 30 tax-incentive programs the state Legislature has approved to attract business. In addition, 10 loan and grant programs cost $716 million between 2008 and 2012, according to the MDA's 2013 incentives report. The state programs have seen successes -- Nissan and other automotive-related manufacturing have created thousands of jobs to replace other manufacturing business lost. Some political leaders want a clearer picture of the state's return on investment. Two legislators -- a Democrat and a Republican -- are proposing bills designed to track the results of incentive programs, and retool or end those that don't work.
Analysis: Missing cost estimates create questions
If you want a lesson on how the legislative process in Mississippi sometimes turns from fact-based analysis to "trust me" politics, sit in on a meeting of the House Ways and Means Committee. The process of carving out tax benefits for individual industries was on view last week as lawmakers debated the wisdom of taxing carbon dioxide or cutting taxes on heavy truck parts. In charge of taxes and borrowing, House Ways and Means and Senate Finance are among the Legislature's most powerful committees. The House committee, especially, is willing to consider many requests, whether it's cutting the sales tax rate on motorcycles or lending money to set up or expand grocery stores in economically depressed areas. As is true in most committees, many bills have their roots in lobbyists.
Former Rep. Childers to run for Senate in Mississippi
Former Mississippi Democratic Rep. Travis Childers announced Friday he's running for Senate, giving Democrats a top-tier candidate if Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) loses his primary. Childers's decision just before the Saturday filing deadline indicates Democrats believe Cochran is highly vulnerable to state Sen. Chris McDaniel in the June primary. If the longtime senator goes down, Democrats hope they could pull off the upset in the deeply red state; eyeing missteps or gaffes by McDaniel could turn into a repeat of other unlikely contests they pulled off against weak GOP nominees. A former Blue Dog congressman, Childers said in a statement he's running "to make sure that all Mississippians have a Senator in Washington looking out for them."
Gene Taylor, now Republican, will seek to reclaim seat from Palazzo
Former U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor of Bay St. Louis said it was the dysfunction of Washington that drove him to seek a return to the job he held for two decades. This time, though, he'll be running as a Republican. "Like everybody else in South Mississippi, I look 1,100 miles up toward Washington and wonder what in the heck are these guys doing?" Taylor said. "None of them are cooperating. We have serious needs. They have voted to make our flood insurance more expensive, they have voted to cut the military. They furloughed federal employees while they continued to get paid. This is a democratic republic, it's all about majorities, it's all about working together to find common goals."
Travis Childers to run for Senate in Mississippi
Former Mississippi Rep. Travis Childers jumped into the race against incumbent GOP Sen. Thad Cochran Friday, giving Democrats a credible candidate in the deep-red state and drawing warnings from some on the right that a bloody Republican primary could risk putting control of the seat in jeopardy. "Mississippians know that I have a solid record of being an independent guy who will work across party lines and stand up to the powers that be when needed," Childers said in a Friday news release announcing his bid. "In the U.S. Senate, I will continue to put Mississippi's middle class first." The Democrat didn't enter the race on a whim: Party strategists told POLITICO earlier this month that Childers would make up his mind on the Senate race after private polling was conducted for the Mississippi Democratic Party.
Cochran Supporters Hit Chris McDaniel on Hurricane Katrina Relief
A super PAC boosting Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., is hitting the senator's tea party primary opponent for comments he made on Hurricane Katrina relief. Mississippi Conservatives, an independent-expenditure-only committee, will air a pair of television and radio ads throughout the state, criticizing state Sen. Chris McDaniel for saying that a vote on Hurricane Katrina relief would not be "an easy vote to cast." The ads are backed by a $100,000 buy, according to a source tracking media buys in the state. They will air on broadcast, cable and radio stations over the next few weeks in the Biloxi and Hattiesburg markets -- two of the areas hit the hardest by Hurricane Katrina in the state.
Field set for Mississippi's U.S. Senate, House races
Tea Party challengers hope to upend Mississippi's Republican and Democratic party establishment in state U.S. Senate primary elections, political races likely favoring established candidates in both parties, including six-term incumbent Thad Cochran. The qualifying deadline passed Saturday with a few perennial and little-known candidates joining to the Senate primaries, but nothing as significant as Friday's news of former Democratic U.S. Rep. Travis Childers entering the race. Primary elections are June 3, and the general election is Nov. 4. The former 1st District Congressman's candidacy positions both GOP and Democratic primaries to include familiar candidates favored by the party establishment to face ultra-conservative candidates who support draconian spending cuts, opposition to federal budget funding of Obamacare and elimination of entire federal departments. National and state political pundits, however, believe all challengers to the Republican Cochran likely will waste their time trying to unseat the third-most senior member of the U.S. Senate.
Cold War II? Obama legacy hangs on Russia
President Barack Obama -- who sought to "reset" U.S. relations with Russia when he took office -- now faces the greatest foreign policy challenge of his presidency. A standoff with Russia evoking memories of the Cold War is scarcely the global legacy that Obama has sought. He's labored to end U.S. involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and has proved reluctant to engage militarily in Syria, preferring diplomacy to military force. His administration has looked to rebalance its focus to emerging power economies in Asia. But it's the showdown with Russian President Vladimir Putin that may prove defining for Obama.
MUW's Gordy Series welcomes Kittredge, on women in sports
On Thursday, the Gordy Honors College at Mississippi University for Women welcomes Dr. Katherine Kittredge to its Forum Series. The series continues its focus on sports with Kittredge's presentation "My So-called Sporting Life; What Women can Gain (and Lose) from Playing Sports." The presentation begins at 6 p.m. in Poindexter Hall. It is free and open to the public. Kittredge's presentation will reflect on her experiences as a female athlete at a time before Title IX expanded athletic opportunities for women in America.
'Rivers' prequel to be issued by Simon & Schuster
Widely praised by readers and critics, Michael Farris Smith's debut novel, "Rivers," will continue its story of a hurricane-ravaged Mississippi with a prequel, also to be published by Simon & Schuster. The associate professor of English at Mississippi University for Women has been commissioned to continue his account of a post-apocalyptic Mississippi as an e-book single, which will help launch the publisher's new imprint, Simon451. The piece will appear this fall. Smith, who is now at work on his next novel, says it's been hard to let go of the world he created in "Rivers." "My new work is so different." To promote his book, the Mississippi native, who attended Mississippi State University, William Carey and the University of Southern Mississippi, has made appearances in nearly 30 cities.
James Meredith talks about the defacing of his statue
Civil rights pioneer James Meredith spoke to high school students about black history and the recent vandalism of a statue in his honor at Ole Miss. Meredith, who was the first African-American student at Ole Miss 50 years ago, was the keynote speaker at a black history program at Lumberton High School. "Teenagers have been committing pranks and doing foolish things forever," said Meredith. "I mean, blacks will be out of their minds if they let this distraction, if they were planning on going to Ole Miss and they let this distraction turn them away. There has not been a lynching in Mississippi since 1958, almost six decades. So, what's so important about a noose? that's foolishness."
Campus construction on the rise
Mississippi's eight public universities, the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the universities' 12 satellite centers are home to 1,631 buildings. That's an ever-changing number -- and one that's on the rise now with a slew of projects underway on campuses across the state. These projects are part of the universities' efforts to modernize and provide better learning and living environments for their students and a better teaching environment for their faculty. Here's a look at some current and future projects at the University of Southern Mississippi, Delta State University, Jackson State University and Mississippi University for Women.
Campus construction continues
Mississippi's eight public universities, the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the universities' 12 satellite centers are home to 1,631 buildings. That's an ever-changing number -- and one that's on the rise now with a slew of projects underway on campuses across the state. In Sunday's first of this two-part series, we focused on developments at the University of Southern Mississippi, Delta State, Jackson State and the Mississippi University for Women. Today we feature the remaining four public universities. "Mississippi State University has completed more than $230 million in capital improvement projects from 2009 through 2013, and have underway in 2014 more than $200 million," said Tim Muzzi, associate director and university architect for Facilities Management, Planning, Design and Construction.
Authors share writing secrets at Delta State University
Creativity was flowing as three Mississippi authors visited the Delta State University campus Friday. Charlaine Harris, Dean James, and Carolyn Haines came to DSU for two morning lectures and a panel discussion, then visited the Ellis Theatre and the Delta Arts Alliance for a book signing and short readings. The event was sponsored by Graduate and Continuing Studies and put together by Beverly Moon.
Extension site on tap for Brookhaven: Mississippi College plans local classes
An extension of Mississippi College could be coming to Brookhaven by the fall semester, allowing area residents to pursue a master's degree without having to travel long distances to achieve it. Organizers with the college met with locals on Wednesday to announce the prospective plan to add a satellite classroom in Brookhaven. "Our ultimate goal is to have several master's level programs here in Brookhaven," said Rachel Peeples, Wesson native and director of field experiences for Mississippi College. "We would like to get started with one course of study this fall, and then see how it goes from there."
Auburn grad worked on Oscar-nominated film 'Dallas Buyers Club'
Forty years ago, Michael O'Neill had a big decision to make. O'Neill, who had never considered acting as a career, was preparing to finish his last semester at Auburn University with a degree in economics. He had been asked by actor Will Geer to consider a career in acting. Geer, most famous for playing Grandfather Zeb Walton on the 1970s television show "The Waltons," had previously received a copy of a speech O'Neill delivered at Auburn and was impressed with his diction and presence as a speaker. "His exact quote was, 'I think you should try acting before the corporate structure snaps you up,'" O'Neill said. Splitting time between his homes Los Angeles and Birmingham when he's not working, O'Neill still has fond memories of his time at Auburn University. His freshman class was the first to use the Haley Center. O'Neill considers his Auburn years as instrumental in his development as an actor.
U. of Kentucky says it continues to make progress after glitches delay paychecks
University of Kentucky officials were working over the weekend to correct a glitch that resulted in 16,000 employees not being paid immediately Friday. Eric Monday, executive vice president for finance and administration, said Saturday that UK estimated that 70 percent of the effected employees would be paid by noon Saturday and the rest would be paid by Monday evening at the latest. In a letter to the employees from Monday provided by the university, the school said it will "ensure that any overdrafts, non-sufficient charges and late fees will be covered." UK is Lexington's largest employer.
Suspect sought after stabbing at U. of Florida
Police are investigating a stabbing on the University of Florida campus that sent a male victim to the hospital early Monday morning. A man stabbed another man in Leigh Hall around 7 a.m. and later fled west in a black Jeep on Newberry Road, said University of Florida Police Department spokesman Maj. Brad Barber. The victim was taken to UF Health Shands hospital. He is not a student at UF, Barber said. UFPD is working with other local agencies to find the suspect in the stabbing.
Coalition of colleges wants to alter Haslam's 'Tennessee Promise' program
Unhappy with the proposed changes to the lottery-funded HOPE Scholarship, a coalition of the state's private colleges has offered a new plan to fund Gov. Bill Haslam's "Tennessee Promise" program. Four-year schools already had expressed concerns about the governor's intention to change the HOPE Scholarship, the state's largest merit-based aid program, in order to fund his plan to make community college free for recent high school graduates. Instead, the private colleges want Haslam to look to another lottery-funded scholarship, the Aspire Award, which is granted to low-income students to supplement their HOPE Scholarships.
Texas A&M student leader to tackle unity, meal plans and MTV
Texas A&M's new student body president hopes a humble approach will heal divides within student government during a time of growth and change for the university. Industrial distribution senior Kyle Kelly, a seventh-generation Texan and third-generation Aggie, was elected late last month with 53 percent of the vote. Grounded with a strong spiritual background, Kelly said he wants to work within the confines of student government to make changes to the campus and take students' concerns to Austin during the next legislative session. Kelly said smaller goals include putting plaques around Simpson Drill Field to honor the 55 Aggies killed in World War I and getting MTV off all of the televisions in the Memorial Student Center. Examples he gave of more desirable channels included ESPN and Fox News.
Loftin builds goodwill as he prepares to get to work on campus issues at U. of Missouri
Exchanging maroon for black and gold wasn't too hard for R. Bowen Loftin, but he still has to remind himself not to say "howdy" to students or give the Texas A&M University "gig 'em" thumbs up. The University of Missouri's new chancellor has settled in just fine, and one month into his new job he has started making plans. In the next few weeks, Loftin said he anticipates announcing the next dean of the MU medical school as well as details for a search committee that will help identify the next provost. Additionally, he expects to announce the merging of some on-campus, non-academic offices. "We've made some decisions already internally and are trying to communicate that properly to those who would be impacted," he said, adding that he doesn't anticipate any people losing their jobs.
U. of Missouri's Loftin plans to increase shared governance
For years, University of Missouri faculty members have lobbied to have a greater say in decisions involving the budget and other broader university issues. Now that R. Bowen Loftin is on the job, and there's a new provost on the way, some faculty members are optimistic that so-called shared governance is on the horizon. Many people have different definitions of shared governance. Loftin's definition is broad and includes three sets of stakeholders: faculty, staff and students. "Shared governance means you consult the university's constituents before you make decisions that affect them," he said. "And I don't mean just faculty."
An Era of Neglect: How public colleges were crowded out, beaten up, and failed to fight back
It happened so slowly that no one really noticed at first. That's the way erosion works. It is a gradual decay. But somewhere along the line, over the past three decades or so, the deterioration of support for public higher education became hard to miss. Appropriations tanked. Tuition soared. College leaders embraced gloomy rhetoric about broken partnerships with the very people who had built these institutions from the ground up. Now we have come to a precipice. College students and their families, who just a decade ago paid for about one-third of the cost of their education, are on track to pay for most of it. In nearly half of the states, they already do. Behind these changes is a fundamental shift. Public colleges, once viewed as worthy of collective investment for the greater good, are increasingly treated as vehicles delivering a personal benefit to students, who ought to foot the bill themselves.
Student Loans Entice Borrowers More for Cash Than a Degree
Some Americans caught in the weak job market are lining up for federal student aid, not for education that boosts their employment prospects but for the chance to take out low-cost loans, sometimes with little intention of getting a degree. Take Ray Selent, a 30-year-old former retail clerk in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He was unemployed in 2012 when he enrolled as a part-time student at Broward County's community college. That allowed him to borrow thousands of dollars to pay rent to his mother, cover his cellphone bill and catch the occasional movie. "The only way I feel I can survive financially is by going back to school and putting myself in more student debt," says Mr. Selent, who has since added $8,000 in student debt from living expenses. Returning to school also gave Mr. Selent a reprieve on the $400 a month he owed from previous student debt because the federal government doesn't require payments while borrowers are in school.
Survey: administrators in higher ed see 2.4% increase in base salary
After three years in which private college and university administrators led their public counterparts in salary gains, the publics are on top in 2013-14. The gains in public higher education are also larger than those of a year before, while the private increase is smaller than last year's, according to a study released today by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources. Overall, the increase is 2.4 percent -- with the public increase 2.5 percent and the private increase 2.3 percent. Based on an increase of 1.5 percent in the Consumer Price Index for the period covered, that means that public and private administrators are all enjoying increases in purchasing power.
IRS idea could end presidential election debates on campus
Colleges are warning the tradition of presidential debates on campus could be in danger thanks to an obscure proposal in controversial proposed IRS regulations. The Internal Revenue Service proposed changes in November to the rules governing politically active nonprofit groups like Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS. The change would define voter registration campaigns, get-out-the-vote drives and events at which political candidates appear as "political activity." And in the same document, they asked for feedback on eventually applying the same definition to nonprofits without a political purpose -- like colleges. So far, that's just a question, not a regulation. But the mere possibility of extending the definition has colleges worried.
PAUL HAMPTON (OPINION): I've found some common ground with Sen. McDaniel
Paul Hampton writes in The Sun Herald: "Handsome. Well-spoken. Dapper. I was beginning to think I'd never find anything state Sen. Chris McDaniel and I have in common. Then I found something we agree on. It was right there on his Facebook page. 'I know it's late, but if you are a dog lover like me, then you really need to read this,' he wrote on his personal Facebook page. It was a post about 20 essential facts dog owners should remember. Sound advice. I've been a dog lover all my life, as long as I can remember, anyway. ... I guess once you've gotten to know a dog, you're hooked. Like Sen. McDaniel. Complete agreement. Politics? On that, Sen. McDaniel and I have a ways go to."
LLOYD GRAY (OPINION): An intriguing political season
Lloyd Gray writes in the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal: "What an interesting political year 2014 is shaping up to be. No big story in the 1st Congressional District, where Alan Nunnelee gets a free pass in the primary and no major opposition in the general election. But even that development is interesting in itself, considering that Nunnelee hasn't been a tea party favorite and has had to fend off Republican primary challengers in the last two elections who tried to position themselves to his right. The latest twist to the 2014 campaign season was a long-anticipated announcement from the man Nunnelee ousted from Congress in 2010, Democrat Travis Childers. The former Prentiss County chancery clerk on Friday officially jumped into the U.S. Senate race. ...So what are his chances in a statewide race? Against McDaniel, not insurmountable. Against Cochran, pretty slim."
SID SALTER (OPINION): Entry of Taylor, Childers into campaigns certainly raises stakes
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "Incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran remains a prohibitive favorite to win re-election. That's a cold, torrential political rain that falls equally on the GOP primary challenge of state Sen. Chris McDaniel and now that of the Democratic challenge by Childers in the November general election. But Mississippi Democrats would have been foolish not to field a credible candidate like Childers in the current political environment. And to those who think a Democrat can't win a statewide election in Mississippi, talk to Attorney General Jim Hood or call a cousin in GOP-friendly Indiana. ...The entry of Childers and Taylor into these races raises the stakes for Republicans and Democrats alike and focuses even more voter interest on an already bewildering political scenario."

Mississippi State baseball team beats Eastern Illinois to complete sweep
A day after tying a 33-year-old stolen bases record, Derrick Armstrong kept running Sunday. The Mississippi State senior outfielder Derrick Armstrong showed again why he is a player opponents hate to play, delivering a key two-run single in a seven-run seventh inning that pushed No. 18 MSU to a 9-0 victory against Eastern Illinois before a crowd of 7,631 at Dudy Noble Field. "What you get from Armstrong is a quality at-bat each and every time," MSU coach John Cohen said. "It seems like he's having a six- to seven-pitch at-bat each and every time. The infielders can't position themselves in a normal way because by the time the ball gets to them, he could be safe at first." Armstrong, a 5-foot-10, 170-pounder, personifies the intelligence and tenacity Cohen has loved to recruit in his six years with the Bulldogs. One day after he had four stolen bases in a 7-1 victory against Michigan State, Armstrong helped MSU (10-4) earn its first shutout of the season, win its sixth-straight game, and complete a 4-0 run through the Diamond Classic presented by Polk's Meat Product.
Bulldogs sweep weekend
No. 18 Mississippi State completed a four-game weekend sweep with a 9-0 shutout of Eastern Illinois on Sunday. The Bulldogs picked up a pair of wins over both the Panthers and Michigan State in the round-robin Diamond Classic. "I'm really proud of our kids, we needed this weekend," said Mississippi State skipper John Cohen. "We needed to get back to winning some ball games and getting some confidence." The Diamond Dogs (10-4) have won six games in a row.
Mississippi State completes weekend sweep
Derrick Armstrong created a reputation for himself this weekend. The senior stole five bases in four games as Mississippi State swept the Diamond Classic, capped off by a 9-0 win against Eastern Illinois on Sunday. "(Opponents are) always like, 'Fast runner at the plate. Get rid of it quick,'" Armstrong said. "They're holding the ball, picking off over there." Armstrong matched a 32-year-old school record with four stolen bases against Michigan State on Saturday. It caught the attention of Eastern Illinois (2-10). The Panthers focused on Armstrong on first base in the seventh inning rather than Demarcus Henderson at the plate or Jacob Robson at third.
MSU softball team wins two more to go to 19-1
Senior Alison Owen and freshman Alexis Silkwood delivered dominating pitching performances Sunday to ensure the Mississippi State softball team would own the best 20-game start in program history. Owen guided MSU to a 2-1 victory against Ohio, while Silkwood helped the club to a 2-1 victory against Texas State in its final games at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Softball Classic. The victories helped MSU improve to 19-1. The 2006 squad had the previous best start with an 18-2 record. MSU has allowed the fewest runs (12) through 20 games in program history. The 2006 group held the previous best with 23 runs.
Mississippi State holds off Ohio
It wasn't white knuckle, grab the edge of your seat drama, but Mississippi State Bulldog pitcher Alison Owen came within one pitch of a perfect game in a 2-1 win over the Ohio Bobcats Sunday morning in the Mississippi Gulf Coast Classic. The one hit Owen did allow was a home run to Dakota Pyles in the bottom of the third inning that tied the game 1-1. Her shutdown performance the rest of the way led the Bulldogs to the win and a record of 18-1. "Just another jewel," Bulldog coach Vann Stuedeman said. "She's throwing really well, spinning it well. Ninety-three pitches. That's being efficient and smart."
Conflict over use of designated seats at Kyle Field in A&M students' hands
A much maligned proposal for 12 select seats at Kyle Field is now in students' hands. Student Body President Reid Joseph on Friday said that student leaders are working on ideas for a special way to fill the seats. The idea to keep some seats empty was unveiled with the new Kyle Field last year but it's unclear who said what, when about the purpose of the seats. A&M System Chancellor John Sharp has said the seats would honor fallen Aggies and symbolize the 12th Man. The Eagle and other media reported that these seats would honor those who died in the 1999 bonfire collapse but top A&M officials released a statement last week which clarified the purpose of the seating and called into question for the first time the accuracy of the reporting.
Clashes Between Fans and Players Draw Greater Scrutiny
Scott Brooks, an associate professor of sociology and black studies at Missouri, said social media had altered the dynamic between spectator and participant. Engagement is not limited to the court, lending another layer of proximity to a tense environment. "For good and bad, access to social media has blurred the lines between fans and athletes," Brooks said. "Athletes will internalize this, and they start to see themselves as a victim. Now, you can respond back, but then the storm starts all over again. That act of being able to respond through social media, I think that's played a lot into this." The N.C.A.A. leaves game management policies up to conferences. The Southeastern Conference has instituted fines ranging from $5,000 for an initial offense to $50,000 for a third offense for universities whose fans rush the basketball court or the football field. But that did not stop South Carolina fans from running onto the court Saturday to celebrate their team's upset over Kentucky.
College Football's NFL Problem: Why Are Underclassmen Suddenly Leaving in Droves for the NFL Draft?
Throughout the offices and film rooms of NFL teams, the whispers are building: This may be the deepest NFL draft ever. It also may be the one that ruins college football. A minor change in the NFL's collective bargaining agreement with its players, which was signed in 2011, is being blamed for a shift so dramatic, some within the game are fearful that college football's talent base and recruiting system may never be the same. Put simply: Players are rushing to leave school early and go pro like never before. This year, there will be at least 98 underclassmen available in May's draft, a 34% increase from 2013 and an 85% increase from 2010, the year before the latest collective bargaining agreement. The average age of an NFL player last season was 26 years 308 days, the youngest since 1987.

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