Wednesday, October 1, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
Mississippi State to Name Building for Charles Lee
Mississippi State is honoring its 17th president Friday with a public ceremony dedicating the J. Charles Lee Agricultural and Biological Engineering Building. The university program begins at 3 p.m. at the $11 million structure located on Creelman Street between Dorman Hall and McCarthy Gymnasium. In addition to Lee, speakers will include President Mark E. Keenum; Greg Bohach, vice president for agriculture, forestry and veterinary medicine; and George Hopper, dean of the colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Forest Resources. Also open to all, a reception will follow at the location. Mississippi State is home to the region's oldest agricultural engineering program and one of the nation's first in biological engineering. University officials have said the state-of-the-art facility that opened in 2007 enables the 136-year-old land-grant institution to continue setting benchmarks in these fields.
A double dose of hope with Red Bus Project at Mississippi State
One man's trash is another man's treasure, right? That's the case in Starkville where Mississippi University students are helping out orphans with every purchase of second hand clothing for sale in a double-decker bus. What's called the "Red Bus Project" is rolling through college campuses and that includes MSU. The Show Hope organization uses the Red Bus Project to raise money which will go toward the protection of orphans worldwide.
Changes coming to farm safety nets
Mississippi farmers will no longer be able to rely on direct payments from the federal government as a safety net. The federal program will instead expand crop insurance to cover losses in revenue or crop yield. Keith Coble, an agricultural economist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, says the changes provide more choices for farmers to protect themselves. "The bill ultimately provided a mixture of programs in an attempt to accommodate the differences in agricultural production," says Coble. "For example, rice producers in Mississippi, who have very little yield risk, they I think in many instances were very interested in price-triggered programs. If you have more yield risk than a revenue protection plan may be more to your desire."
MSU Bioenergy Field Tour
In southern Lowndes County, just a mile from the Alabama line, an agriculture drone hovers over a 70-acre research area where hybrid poplar trees are growing. They are in a special category of crops used to produce energy. "Faster growth, higher return on your investment, profitability is higher," Randy Rousseau with Mississippi State University said. Efficiency and cost effectiveness are what biofuels and other alternatives are all about.
Deer processors need to use caution to insure safe, tasty venison
In Mississippi, more than 200,000 deer are harvested each year, providing families with a source of free-range meat. However, hunters must exercise care when processing deer to ensure good-tasting, high quality, safe meat products. Byron Williams, associate Extension and research professor in the Department of Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion at Mississippi State University, said the hunter should wash the inside of the carcass immediately after field dressing if there is a source of drinkable water. Washing immediately is especially important if the digestive tract was punctured. Bronson Strickland, wildlife specialist with the MSU Extension Service, said one thing that affects the flavor and texture of the deer meat is the sex and age of the deer.
Voter registration deadline nears for general election
Noon Saturday marks the deadline to register to vote in time for the November general election The Oktibbeha County circuit clerk's office, located in the Oktibbeha County Courthouse Annex on Main Street, will remain open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through the week and from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday to accept voter registration forms. The general election, scheduled for Nov. 4, will include the U.S. Senate election between incumbent Thad Cochran (R-Pontotoc) and Democratic challenger Travis Childers of Booneville. Reform Party candidate Shawn O'Hara is also vying for the Senate seat. (Subscriber-only content.)
Peters: Parks down to $61K in Starkville Electric Department back payments
Starkville Parks and Recreation now owes about $61,000 in back payments for electric and water services after receiving an additional $96,000 in annual funding and a $60,000 financial bailout from the city this fiscal year, Director Herman Peters said. Acting upon a Freedom of Information Act request made by The Dispatch, Starkville Electric Department produced a report Monday that showed Parks began January's billing cycle with $112,038.33 in combined water and electric arrears -- monies already owed to the department -- and reduced that amount to about $68,000 in the billing cycle that covered August.
App promotes state's agritourism
The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce has launched a new mobile app to promote agritourism, coinciding with the peak season for such farm operations. While many agritourism operations offer activities year-round, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, hayrides and other sorts of outdoor entertainment are in abundance in October, designated as Agritourism Month. Agritourism is defined as business operations on a working farm, ranch, or other agricultural enterprise that offers an educational and fun experience for visitors while generating supplemental income for the owner. It generates $150 million annually in Mississippi.
Mississippi agencies begin budget requests for 2016 fiscal year
Leaders of Mississippi government agencies are appearing before lawmakers this week to request money for fiscal 2016, which begins July 1. Among those seeking an increase in funding are three big departments: Health, Human Services and Corrections. The Joint Legislative Budget Committee started a series of hearings Tuesday at the Woolfolk state office building near the Capitol. The hearings run through Friday, and they're open to the public. The current chairman of the committee, House Speaker Philip Gunn, said most agencies are making reasonable budget requests. "They understand that the intent of this committee is to be conservative in our spending," Gunn, R-Clinton, said after the hearing.
Lawmakers question education leaders about escalating administrative costs
State education officials making their legally-mandated push to support Mississippi's school funding formula were questioned yesterday in a budget hearing about rising spending on administrators and whether lawmakers should spend more money on programs not included in the formula. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and others are asking whether local districts are spending money wisely. He cited figures showing some schools had cut instructional spending while increasing administrative spending. State Superintendent Carey Wright said the only explanation she could give is that districts had cut the number of teachers to make ends meet.
MAEP is first priority for board, Wright says
State Superintendent of Education Carey Wright reiterated to legislative leaders Tuesday that full funding of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program is the top priority of the Mississippi Board of Education. During the opening day of the hearings by the Legislative Budget Committee, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves asked Wright if she would want MAEP fully funded before other priorities -- if the Board of Education received additional funding. "I will never want to take money away from the schools," she told Reeves. "That is all the money they have to function on. I would want them to have it first."
Fire up a cigar -- prisons budget is in the black
The announcement Tuesday that the state prison system isn't running a deficit for the first time in several years made House Appropriations Chair Herb Frierson want to light up a cigar. "Does anybody have a cigar?" Frierson asked after joint House and Senate budget hearings broke. "I love it when a plan comes together." Key lawmakers on Tuesday began the task of setting a $6 billion state budget for the coming year, with hearings that will run through Friday. Officials from major state agencies are making their pitches for the budget lawmakers will set in their 2015 session.
Tweaked DUI law starts today in Mississippi
A new state law effective today requires motorists with more than one DUI conviction to pay for breath-testing devices for their vehicles. Mississippi's previous ignition-interlock law made it a judge's discretion after a driver's second DUI conviction. The new law allows first-time offenders a chance to request an ignition interlock for 90 days instead of license suspension. It requires repeat offenders to have the device for one to three years plus a restricted driver's license. However, it could take at least a month for proposed rules and procedures to be become effective, representatives for related state agencies said. Still, the law is good news for first-time offenders, who often have no way to get to work because of a suspended driver's license, attorney Wayne Woodall said.
Group seeks ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in Mississippi
A group has filed a petition seeking a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in Mississippi. The group, Mississippi for Cannabis, is hoping to place an initiative on the November 2016 election ballot. The group filed the petition Monday with the Secretary of State's satellite office in Hernando, says petition organizer Kelly Jacobs. It's the initial process in the ballot process. During this year's Neshoba County Fair, conservative Circuit Judge Marcus Gordon of Decatur predicted marijuana would be legalized in Mississippi within a decade although he would be opposed to it.
State Capitol gets multimillion dollar facelift
Everywhere you turn at the Mississippi State Capitol you hear drilling and hammering. The work will still be in progress when lawmakers return in January. "It's time for another renovation," said Lawson Newman who works with WFT Architects. Newman is overseeing the Capitol restoration and repairs. "We're focusing on the exterior of the building," explained Newman. "Especially up at the roof, around the main dome; a lot of issues over the years. In fact, since the building was constructed the dome has leaked and other parts of the roof leaked." The money for the $7.4 million project was approved in stages by the Legislature.
Lawmakers call for Secret Service probe
Lawmakers in both parties on Tuesday called for an independent panel to investigate a series of White House security breaches on the Secret Service's watch. House Oversight Committee leaders emerged from a closed-door session with Secret Service Director Julia Pierson, which followed a public grilling, to say they would ask Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to form the panel. During the hearing, lawmakers expressed frustration not only with the most recent security breach -- a man carrying a knife was able to scale the White House fence and enter the first family's residence -- but with repeated contradictions between news reports and the Secret Service's initial account of the Sept. 19 incident.
Officials begin tracing contacts of Texas patient diagnosed with Ebola
A man who traveled from Liberia to visit family members in Texas tested positive for Ebola on Tuesday, marking the outbreak's first diagnosis outside of Africa, health officials said. The unidentified patient, who is critically ill, has been cared for in a special isolation ward at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas since Sunday, said Dr. Edward Goodman, the hospital's epidemiologist. The patient initially sought treatment in the hospital's emergency department Friday but was sent home with antibiotics, Goodman said. The man was in apparent good health when he stepped off a commercial airliner Sept. 20 but began to feel sick four days later, said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Frieden emphasized that the man did not become infectious until he began to develop active symptoms of the hemorrhagic fever.
Hong Kong Government Seeks to Wait Out Protesters
Leung Chun-ying, Hong Kong's chief executive, has adopted a new strategy to marshal the city's widespread pro-democracy protests: allow the demonstrations to continue until the protesters tire or lose support from the wider public, according to a person familiar with the matter. The impetus to resolve the standoff peacefully has come from the Chinese government in Beijing, this person said. "Beijing has set a line to C.Y. You cannot open fire," this person said. "You must halt it in a peaceful way." The thinking behind the tactic is to resolve the standoff by peaceful means and comes after a move on Sunday to deploy tear gas backfired on the government.
Whitney Miller to speak at Oct. 7 University Forum
Whitney Miller, a University of Southern Mississippi alumna who won the inaugural title of "MasterChef" on the Fox reality television show of the same name, will be the guest speaker at the Oct. 7 University Forum. The program will be held at the Trent Lott Center, room 103 A-D at 6:30 p.m. on the Hattiesburg campus. Admission is free. Inspired by the hospitality of her 97-year-old great-grandmother and creativity of her mother, Miller's passion for the art of cooking began at an early age. After winning the title of "MasterChef" at age 22, Whitney obtained her degree from Southern Miss in interdisciplinary studies with an emphasis in nutrition.
Delta State receives $1.6M education grant
Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, has been selected as one of only 24 universities across the nation for the U. S. Department of Education's new First in the World grant. To drive innovations in higher education that increase college completion, value and affordability, the Education Department on Tuesday awarded $75 million to the 24 colleges and universities. Delta State will receive $1.6 million. Delta State President William N. LaForge says the money will be used for student retention and to provide extra assistance to students who need academic support.
Education Department awards $75 million in innovation grants to colleges, including DSU
The Obama administration announced Tuesday that it will award a total of $75 million to 24 colleges to support innovations in higher education. For an administration whose active regulatory agenda and pushes for greater accountability have often rankled colleges and universities, the grants also reflect the type of postsecondary investments that higher education has widely praised. The Education Department chose the winners of the grant competition from a pool of nearly 500 applicants, officials said. The grants are going to 19 public and private four-year institutions and five community colleges, including Delta State University, which will receive $1,660,957.
Second U. of Alabama student arrested for making threats
A second University of Alabama student has been arrested for allegedly making threats that caused additional anxiety in the wake of an ominous online post on Sept. 21 that sparked alarm among students and has been the subject of an ongoing investigation by campus police. Daniel Evan Simmons, 19, was arrested Tuesday by the University of Alabama Police Department and charged. The message police allege Simmons posted in his fraternity's MessageMe chat room under a pseudonym is similar to messages allegedly sent on Sept. 22 by Dakota John Timm, the 20-year-old UA student arrested Sept. 23 on charges of harassing communication, according to court documents. UA spokesman Chris Bryant said Simmons is a member of Lambda Chi Alpha.
U. of Alabama student arrested for 'terrorist threat', not connected to original threat
A second University of Alabama student has been arrested in the wake of threatening messages that disrupted the campus community last week. Daniel Evan Simmons, a 19-year-old University of Alabama student, is charged with making a terrorist threat following an "investigation into the additional alarming messages that were sent during the early morning hours of Tuesday, Sept. 23," UA officials said. Simmons' message is not directly connected to the initial intimidating post which was posted Sept. 21.
McDonald's exec discusses challenges of modern supply chains at Auburn University's York lecture
McDonald's Corporation Vice President of Global Quality Systems Jerome Lyman spoke to a group of Auburn University faculty and students Tuesday for the College of Agriculture's Fall 2014 E.T. York Distinguished Lecturer Series. "I'm from Chicago, Illinois, Big Ten country. I'm in SEC country now. Thank you for welcoming a foreigner to your land," Lyman joked with the crowd. Although Lyman has worked with the McDonald's Corporation for 36 years, he dedicated the majority of his lecture to the issues consumer-facing global food supply chains. "There are significant challenges ahead of you," he told the students in the crowd. "...We don't spend a lot of time thinking about the food chain. ...It all kind of occurs."
LSU among worst in SEC for alumni giving; fundraising oversight aims to win donor dollars
After LSU students toss their graduation caps and stow their purple gowns, some of them, university leaders hope, choose to give back. At Louisiana's flagship university, alumni have three primary options for doing so: the LSU Foundation, LSU Alumni Association and Tiger Athletic Association. But in LSU President F. King Alexander's words, the school's endowment is "nowhere near where it should be." According to U.S. News & World Report's 2014 college rankings, LSU ranks second from the bottom among the 14 SEC schools in the "alumni giving" category, ahead only of the University of Tennessee. LSU plans to have filled a newly created position -- vice president of institutional advancement -- by January. The new oversight position is Alexander's answer to the need for increasing donations, the president said at a Sept. 12 LSU Board of Supervisors meeting.
Tobacco ban takes effect today at UGA -- no e-cigarettes, either
Don't light up on the University of Georgia campus today. Tobacco use is now against the rules. Up until today, UGA stood as the lone Athens holdout against tobacco bans that more and more college campuses across the state and nation adopted in recent years. Adopted earlier this year, the policy doesn't just ban smoking. Even electronic cigarettes are now verboten. "The use of all forms of tobacco products on property owned, leased, rented, in the possession of, or in any way used by the USG or its affiliates is expressly prohibited," reads the policy. UGA officials will take a low-key approach to enforcement. "We really don't see this as a police matter," said UGA President Jere Morehead. Most colleges have relied on social pressure to enforce bans, and that's what UGA will do.
Jewish UGA students question scheduling of homecoming on Yom Kippur
Jewish students at the University of Georgia are discouraged that the college has scheduled its homecoming game on the religion's holiest of days. UGA is set to take on Vanderbilt on Saturday, but the Jewish students say their observation of Yom Kippur will prevent them from attending the game. The students have written a letter they plan to deliver to university officials this week about their disappointment in the timing of the game. The timing of the game "has a lot to do with how our schedule was delivered to us from the conference," said Matthew Winston, assistant to UGA President Jere Morehead. Television broadcast schedules also dictate some of UGA's sporting event calendar, Winston said. "It was not intentional. We were not being insensitive," he said.
Forum at U. of Florida sharply divided on medical marijuana
At a Tuesday night forum on the University of Florida campus, Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell and former Florida House Speaker Jon Mills painted vastly different pictures of what medical marijuana would be like in the state of Florida. Darnell, an opponent, described the dire scene of a system ridden with "loopholes" where marijuana ice cream sandwiches, lollipops or cookies might be within reach of children, and where convicted felons or drug dealers could get licensed as caregivers. Mills, the former University of Florida Levin College of Law dean and the author of the medical marijuana amendment, described a well-regulated system where each patient must receive a certification from a doctor and an identification card from the state and each doctor much report each certification to the Florida Department of Health.
Students flock to U. of Florida's two-day career showcase
They lined up outside Gate 2 of the O'Connell Center all the way down to the intersection of Stadium Road and Gale Lemerand Drive -- waiting for the glass-and-steel doors to open at 9 a.m. so they could start interviewing with the hundreds of job reps inside. The University of Florida students had "cleaned up good" -- dressed in suits and ties, business dress ensembles and heels, not their usual classroom attire of T-shirts and cargo shorts. Those at the front of the line had waited for 45 minutes to an hour for the start of the career showcase put on by the UF Career Resource Center and sponsored by Nielsen. An estimated 8,000 students were expected to descend on the O'Connell Center between Tuesday and today to interview with representatives from 352 employers --- one of the largest job fairs in the Southeast.
Mold in Vanderbilt dorms spurs inspections in 500 rooms
Mold in some Vanderbilt University residence halls triggered inspections of about 500 separate rooms in September. Students in an old cluster of buildings started reporting mold and mildew in their rooms soon after move-in day in August, according to Jim Kramka, Vanderbilt's senior director of housing operations. The buildings, gathered around the Alumni Lawn, were built in the 1940s and 1950s. Their age makes them especially susceptible to mold during humid times of year, Kramka said. More than a dozen reports came in during August and September.
U. of Missouri medical school awards $600,000 in translational research grants
The University of Missouri School of Medicine on Tuesday announced six grants totaling about $600,000 as part of MU's Coulter Translational Partnership Program to help bring the work of several research teams from the laboratory to commercial production. The grants went to six research teams, each including a faculty member from the medical school or College of Engineering. The grant winners were chosen by a review committee because their biomedical research projects show potential and would meet a health care need. Each team received about $100,000. "This Coulter program is really a testament and really confirms my own observations of what this school is all about in terms of a collaborative environment," MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin said
Optimism About MOOCs Fades in Campus IT Offices
MOOC fever is cooling, at least among campus information-technology administrators, according to the 2014 edition of the Campus Computing Survey, an annual report on technology in higher education. While a little more than half of last year's respondents thought MOOCs "offer a viable model for the effective delivery of online instruction," just 38 percent of this year's participants agreed with that statement. And only 19 percent of respondents in 2014 said MOOCs could generate new revenue for colleges. In addition to decreased optimism about MOOCs among IT administrators, the survey revealed universities' weaknesses in providing accessible technology to students with disabilities, increased interest in applications for mobile devices, and concerns about cloud security.
Survey shows training and support remain top issues among IT officials
As the higher education IT community meets at the annual Educause conference in search the next big thing, a survey shows IT officials still place training and support for faculty, staff and students at the top of their priority lists. The survey, by the Campus Computing Project, has tracked institutional trends in information technology since 1990. This year, it was presented amid more than 400 other sessions on faculty development, cybersecurity, competency-based education and myriad other topics presented during Educause -- the can't-miss ed-tech event that brings together more than 7,300 people from over 50 countries to discuss the role of technology in higher education.
New Federal Guidelines Aim to Rid Schools of Racial Inequality
With racial minorities still less likely than white students to have access to rigorous academic classes or experienced and qualified teachers, the Obama administration will announce guidelines on Wednesday to ensure that strong teachers, high-level math and science courses, quality extracurricular programs, and equivalent technology and school facilities are available for all public school students. In a 19-page document issued by the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Education, the administration urges state officials, superintendents and principals to monitor policies and facilities and to make sure they are equitably distributed among students of all races. "Education is the great equalizer," Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, said in a statement prepared for the Public Policy Conference of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute in Washington on Wednesday morning.
OUR OPINION: Meet commitments before discussing tax reductions
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal editorializes: "The start of the Legislative Budget Committee's 2016 budget cycle highlights the continuing inadequacy of funding for the legislatively mandated Mississippi Adequate Education Program. ...The depth of underfunding is apparent for MAEP in the size of the increase requested -- $311.7 million, an increase of 14.3 percent -- to fully fund MAEP for 2016, which begins July 1, 2015. In addition, the state's chronically underfunded universities and community colleges, in separate appropriations, seek $120.9 million more than in the 2015 budget. ...2015 is a statewide election year, so playing politics with revenue to enhance individuals or parties is not new or unexpected, but is not good governance except when there's truly a sizable revenue surplus. ...Only when Mississippi is fully funding its official priorities set in law should there be any discussion of tax cuts."
BRIAN PERRY (OPINION): Lining up for Brown's state Senate seat
Consultant and columnist Brian Perry writes: "We're five months away from the qualifying deadline for the 2015 legislative elections, but the special election for the Lowndes County Senate District 17 to fill the remaining year of the late Senator Terry Brown is in six weeks and has already drawn four candidates. Brown passed away early last month and had been serving as Mississippi Senate President Pro Tempore, the top leadership post below Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves. On several occasions in that capacity, when Reeves and Governor Phil Bryant were both out-of-state, Brown was acting governor. ...This will mark the twelfth legislative special election since November 2012, the fourth in the Senate and eight in the House."
OUR OPINION: Mississippi State, Ole Miss capture national spotlight
The Dispatch editorializes: "Is it Saturday yet? When Mississippi State and Ole Miss play home games Saturday, it will mark something that has not happened in more than 60 years. Nov. 30, 1953, marked the last time Ole Miss and Mississippi State were both ranked in the Top 15 and played a game in Mississippi when the Bulldogs and Rebels played to a 7-7 tie in Starkville. This Saturday marks a occasion of even greater significance. On Oct. 4, four teams ranked in the top 12 will play in Starkville and Oxford. No. 11 Ole Miss will play No. 3 Alabama while No. 12 MSU will host No. 6 Texas A&M. Clearly, the focus of the college football world will be on Mississippi in a way the state has never seen."
MARTY RUSSELL (OPINION): Are you ready for gridiron gridlock?
Marty Russell writes in the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal: "I'm still surprised that, in 1864, when the Union general burned The Square in Oxford, he didn't give up in frustration after getting stuck in traffic going to buy the matches. I've been an Oxford resident for more than a decade now and I'm constantly reminded of one of the basic quandaries of quantum physics which is how a black hole can stuff so much mass into such a small space. ...Instead of wasting their time staring through telescopes, maybe physicists should just visit Oxford on a football weekend... I'm sure the same will be true at my alma mater, Mississippi State, when Texas A&M comes calling Saturday in Starkville. But I don't live in Starkville. Here in Oxford we've learned how to cope with the influx, mainly by watching the TV show, 'Doomsday Preppers.'"

Dan Mullen excited to host SEC Nation, Tim Tebow in Starkville
Texas A&M isn't the only team making the trip to Starkville this weekend. SEC Nation's crew will be in town as well, which means Dan Mullen's Heisman winning quarterback Tim Tebow will be on campus. "I'm excited to see Tim. He's probably not," Mississippi State's coach said. "The last time he was here Johnthan Banks had two pick-sixes so I don't know if he's too excited to come back to the stadium." Tebow returns to Davis Wade Stadium with Joe Tessitore, Marcus Spears, Paul Finebaum and Kaylee Hartung for SEC Nation at The Junction. It airs on the SEC Network at 9 a.m. until kickoff at 11 a.m.
Mississippi State offense gearing up for showdown with Texas A&M
Technically, Mississippi State center Dillon Day doesn't have much to do this Saturday, the result of a one-game suspension handed down by the Southeastern Conference following a pair of in-game incidents in MSU's 34-29 win at LSU. But despite the fact that Day isn't playing this Saturday against No. 6 Texas A&M, he's keeping busy anyway. "He's been right there with us every step this week," said MSU offensive lineman Ben Beckwith, who will line up at center in the place of Day for the Bulldogs' 11 a.m. kickoff against the Aggies on Saturday. "He's my roommate, and we've talked about it. Last week, it was still a bit of a shock that he got suspended and we were dealing with it. But now, with the game a couple days away, we have moved on and we're getting ready for a very good Texas A&M team."
RB Josh Robinson finds success with Mississippi State Bulldogs
Josh Robinson strutted into Death Valley with a purpose last week. Mississippi State's redshirt junior running back wanted to prove he belonged. The Louisiana native, who didn't garner much attention from LSU in high school, stood under the bright lights of Tiger Stadium wearing the wrong colors but possessing the right attitude. A life that has hurled unique challenges his way presented him with an opportunity to be remembered in the very stadium he'd dreamed of playing in since he was a child. Robinson, who barely stands all of his 5 feet, 9 inches -- but is every bit of his compact 210 pounds -- was ferocious, jutting past defenders when he wasn't bowling them over or tenaciously pumping through their grasps. "I was just living out my dream," Robinson said.
Mississippi State confident with Beckwith at center
It's been six years since Ben Beckwith snapped the football during a game. The senior took reps at center during his five years at Mississippi State. He spent some time at the spot during this year's spring game. But a game? That's a different matter. That changes Saturday when he returns to center when No. 12 MSU hosts No. 6 Texas A&M. "It's really not that much difference. It's a timing deal, talking and getting everyone where they need to be," Beckwith said. "The main reason they want to put me there is we need somebody who has long hair." "I trust Ben. We hang out all the time outside of football so I trust him," quarterback Dak Prescott said. "The snaps have been great. Everything's been great."
Saturday could be the biggest SEC game day in Mississippi history
Saturday could be the biggest SEC game day in Mississippi history The national spotlight of college football this weekend will focus on Oxford and Starkville. It will be the biggest Saturday of college football ever in the state of Mississippi as No. 3 Alabama goes to No. 11 Ole Miss while No. 12 Mississippi State hosts No. 6 Texas A&M. The national impact of both games is huge, especially in the first season of the Division I college football playoff. "We're excited to get this week going,'' Mullen said on Monday. "We have SEC Nation coming in broadcasting at 9 a.m. in The Junction so hopefully all of our students and fans are up early coming to show their support for the team."
State of Mississippi set for historic college football weekend
On the week Mississippi will take its rightful place as the epicenter of the college football world, the Magnolia State is beaming with pigskin pride. And why not? There are two games, featuring four of the nation's top 12 teams, being played on Mississippi soil. No. 6 Texas A&M travels to No. 12 Mississippi State, and No. 3 Alabama visits No. 11 Ole Miss as both Mississippi schools sport a 4-0 record in the same season for the first time in history. ESPN's "College GameDay" is setting up shop in the Grove in Oxford for the first time. It's almost too good to be true for a state that treats football as nothing short of a religious experience.
SEC Pre-Game Tailgate Set for Dumont Plaza in downtown Meridian
Meridian Main Street and Visit Meridian hope that, come Friday night, Dumont Plaza in downtown Meridian will come alive with SEC football fans. This will be the 1st Annual Your SEC Pre-Game City Tailgate in the heart of Meridian. Meridian is only 90 miles from Starkville, where Mississippi State and Texas A&M play this week. Local hotels are prepared to pick up some of that business. "It's an early game on Saturday so they are going to leave a day early," said Rusty McAlister, an intern with the Phil Hardin Foundation. "We want them to stay in Meridian. We want them to come to our restaurants and our venues just to experience Meridian and everything we have to offer." To accommodate this influx of fans, Visit Meridian has established a shuttle service to and from local hotels in hopes of bringing them downtown to enjoy not only the tailgate but to enjoy what downtown Meridian has to offer.
Southern Miss AD McGillis: Funding cost of attendance would be challenge
Bill McGillis said Southern Miss has a long way to go before the Eagle Club -- the athletic department's main fundraising arm -- can fully fund its scholarships. And if things go how the second-year Southern Miss athletic director expects them to over the next several months, that gap could widen. In August, the NCAA gave the five power conferences -- the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 -- and their 65 members the highest level of legislative autonomy in the history of the organization. The new structure is expected to give colleges the ability to provide an unprecedented level of benefits for their student-athletes, including full cost-of-attendance scholarships. McGillis said he expects funding full cost-of-attendance scholarships will be among the first issues the five power conferences will broach.
GameDay will use Grove stage, force tents to move
ESPN was not kidding when it said College GameDay would be in the middle of the Grove. Ole Miss released an image today of the setup for the college football pregame show, which will broadcast live from the Grove on Saturday. No. 11 Ole Miss plays No. 3 Alabama later that day. An Ole Miss spokesperson did not have an immediate number for how many tents will be displaced. "With any production of this size and scope, some of our fans' traditions may be affected," athletics director Ross Bjork said in a video released with the diagram. "We don't take this lightly and hope that you will work with us to accommodate this very unique opportunity."
Texas A&M cannon finds new home inside Kyle Field
Texas A&M football fans can expect to hear the sound of a cannon being fired when their team scores at the next home game against Ole Miss on Oct. 11. Officials said they chose the location for the cannon, the southeast activation tower of Kyle Field, based on a variety of factors including safety and noise levels. The announcement comes after officials canceled the cannon firing at the most recent home game against Rice. Texas A&M Interim President Mark Hussey expressed appreciation for the Aggie officials who came up with the solution, including members of the offices of the commandant of the Corps of Cadets, the Environmental Health and Safety Office and representatives with the Texas A&M System.
Checker Neyland gains momentum at U. of Tennessee
The "Checker Neyland" movement has gained significant momentum with Vols fans this week all over social media. The website,, had been shared nearly 10,000 times on Twitter as of Tuesday afternoon. The effort also received a huge endorsement from University of Tennessee football coach Butch Jones on Twitter. Jones wrote Sunday, "#VolNation you asked for it, now make it a reality!!" Checker Neyland calls on ticket holders for the Oct. 4 game against Florida to dress in either solid white or orange, depending on where they sit, to create a checkered orange-and-white pattern in the stands.
U. of Kentucky football players could face disorderly conduct charges for air-gun incident, county attorney says
Fayette County Attorney Larry Roberts said his office is processing charges of disorderly conduct against University of Kentucky football players involved in an incident with an airsoft gun. Roberts said second-degree disorderly conduct charges would be filed with the court "as soon as the judge signs them." No charges had been filed in Fayette District Court as of Tuesday night. Four freshmen football players were suspended Monday for this weekend's South Carolina game after they were identified in images captured by surveillance cameras Sunday night during a campus alert that followed reports of shots fired near the Kirwan/Blanding dorm complex.
Protests and controversy over how U. of Michigan responded to athlete's concusssion
University of Michigan students marched to the president's home Tuesday to demand the firing of the athletic director amid a growing controversy over the university's response -- or rather, the lack of an immediate response -- to a player's concussion. Anger over the incident has escalated since Saturday's game, with students, alumni and others questioning whether the athletics department is being led in an appropriate fashion. On Tuesday, both the athletics director and president issued statements that admitted to serious problems in the response to Morris's injury, but those statements have yet to assure student critics. Many say that initial statements from the football head coach suggest an attitude in which the risks of concussion are not taken seriously enough.
LOGAN LOWERY (OPINION): Mullen facing another big one
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Logan Lowery writes: "For years, the knock on Mississippi State's Dan Mullen has been he couldn't win the big one. Many critiqued Mullen for not being able to beat a ranked opponent during his tenure and only being capable of beating Ole Miss consistently within his own division. But those criticisms were silenced in Baton Rouge two weekends ago when the Bulldogs wrapped up their fourth win of the season, 34-29 against then eighth-ranked LSU. MSU has had two weeks to revel in that monumental victory and has been the Cinderella of the national media during that span. The Bulldogs have risen from unranked to No. 12 in the latest AP poll. But all those pats on the back over the last two weeks won't mean a thing if the Bulldogs don't back it up on the field during the next two games against No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 5 Auburn."
SCOTT WALTERS (OPINION): Starkville High, Starkville Academy, Mississippi State off to fantastic starts
The Dispatch's Scott Walters writes: "The national buzz has centered heavily on the Magnolia State this week. Mississippi State will host Texas A&M Saturday in one of the biggest games in school history. Ole Miss will host Alabama in what would have to also rank as that program's most important contest in half a century. ...While football on the senior college level in this state is good, high school football in Oktibbeha County is not half bad either. ... Starkville High School is 5-0. Starkville Academy is 6-0. Factor in 4-0 MSU and the county's Big Three are presently 15-0. Yes indeed, times are mighty good for football fans in Starkville. To add icing to the cake, Starkville Academy took over the top spot in the Associated Press rankings for private schools Tuesday. Starkville High has held the top spot in the overall rankings for right at a month."
RICK CLEVELAND (OPINION): Bulldogs, Rebels on a roll
Mississippi sports columnist Rick Cleveland writes: "So, you ask, when is the last time two Mississippi teams were undefeated and ranked as highly as Ole Miss and Mississippi State are this far into the season? That would be never. Ever. Ole Miss was No. 6, State No. 11 when they both teed it up on Oct. 4, 1958, but back then both teams were just 1-0. And that State team would go on to finish 3-6. So here we are: Texas A&M vs. Mississippi State, Alabama vs. Ole Miss., 93 miles apart, in the two biggest games in all of college football this weekend. You've got questions about this unprecedented Saturday of college football in the Magnolia State? I've got answers."

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