Wednesday, August 21, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Mississippi State among top humanities schools
Walter Diehl doesn't see a reason why a college with strong programs in science, engineering and agriculture shouldn't also have strong programs in the humanities. Diehl, associate dean for research in Mississippi State University's College of Arts and Sciences, said humanities had been part of land-grant institutions' missions since the Morrill Land-Grant Acts created them. He said many top engineering schools and land-grant institutions also had strong humanities programs.
 
Dawg Daze eases transition to college
Since move-in day, the Mississippi State University campus has been swarming with students. To ease the transition to Starkville for freshmen and transfer students, Mississippi State created Dawg Daze. The 2013 Dawg Daze event kicked off on Aug. 10 with the Dawg Daze BBQ on move-in day and will end with the MSU Tailgate Party on Friday.
 
Mississippi State experiences power outage
At about 4:45 p.m. on Tuesday, the Mississippi State University main campus in Starkville experienced an interruption of electric power that continued until about 5:30 p.m. MSU mechanical and energy engineer J.D. Hardy said a protective relay between MSU's electrical power substation and the MSU power generation plant experienced a voltage differential the caused the relay to deploy to protect the system. University officials reacted quickly to the power outage by initiating a "black start" of the emergency campus power generation plant.
 
Educational pledge re-ignites awareness as consolidation hearing approaches
Starkville's chapter of Parents for Public Schools and the Starkville Foundation for Public Education launched a 10-point pledge Tuesday to improve countywide education and promote one of the area's top issues in hopes of re-sparking awareness before Thursday's first public hearing on consolidation. The online pledge, which can be found at http://www.ppsstarkville.org, commits, among other things, to improve the area's quality of life and economy through "excellence in public education," "advocated vigorously for the future of every child in Oktibbeha County," involve all parents within the county as stakeholders and "establish a shared culture of pride, trust and respect in every school." PPS Starkville unveiled the pledge on its website Tuesday morning, and by 3 p.m. listed 34 committed individuals, public officials, businesses and organizations. The Greater Starkville Development Partnership also formally supported the pledge Tuesday.
 
First public hearing set for school consolidation
The Commission on Starkville/Oktibbeha Consolidated School District will host a public hearing at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Greensboro Center auditorium. The commission has held several meetings, which are open to the public, but Thursday's meeting will be the first where the public can offer their thoughts and concerns on the consolidation process to the seven-member commission.
 
Tax increase plan marches on; board also raises sanitation rates
Ward 2 Alderman Lisa Wynn's hesitant hand raise gave the Board of Aldermen the four votes it needed Tuesday evening to press on with a proposed 2.78-mil ad valorem tax increase for fiscal year 2014. The vote will initiate a public notice and public hearing process that will culminate with the board approving a final budget in mid September, one that now will likely include the tax hike.
 
Supes will meet with OCH trustees on hospital's future
Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors President Orlando Trainer and OCH Regional Medical Center CEO Richard Hilton both confirmed Monday that plans are in the works to discuss the future of county health care in a joint public session between county representatives and hospital trustees. Supervisors met Monday but did not discuss the potential meeting in open session as it was not listed on the county's agenda. Such a meeting would be the first of its kind in years, supervisors and Hilton said Monday. District 3 Supervisor and former Board President Marvell Howard said such a meeting has not been held since he took office in 2008.
 
Mississippi students slightly raise low ACT scores
Mississippi's ACT scores rose slightly over the last year, although only a small fraction of Magnolia State students are truly ready for college by the standards of the test. The average composite score on the test was 18.9, up modestly from 18.7 last year. That's still well below the national average, which dipped to 20.9 this year from 21.1 the year before. And it's only equal to the 18.9 that Mississippi students scored in 2008 and 2009 before dipping. The testing organization, based in Iowa City, Iowa, says that only 12 percent of the nearly 28,000 Mississippi students who took the exam were ready for college in English, math, reading and science. That compares to 26 percent nationwide. Mississippi's share of college-ready students has risen from 10 percent in 2011.
 
ACT scores fall to lowest level in five years
With a 20.9 composite average, the 2013 ACT scores are the lowest they've been in five years, with the biggest drops occurring in the English and reading sections. The high school class of 2013's composite average is down 0.2 points from 21.1 last year, and English and reading scores (averaging 20.2 and 21.1) are down 0.3 and 0.2 points, respectively. "The diversity of students in the pool continues to grow, which is a good thing. The aspirations of those students continues to rise, which is a good thing," ACT President Jon Erickson said. "But the performance of the students still leaves something to be desired."
 
Fight over education intensifies; GOP group, tea party target Common Core
The Mississippi Senate Conservative Coalition and tea party groups are expanding their fight against implementation of Common Core Standards in public schools, holding a town hall meeting in south Mississippi and questioning the state Department of Education. This comes as the department is having a series of its own town halls with parents across the state in support of the program and explaining it as a needed reform in education standards that the state must follow to compete nationally, and not a top-down Washington initiative as critics describe it. It's an issue splitting the state Republican Party.
 
Oxford passes cold, Sunday beer
Fox News Channel's Shepard Smith said "there's been a miracle" in Oxford on Tuesday. The Board of Aldermen voted to allow the sale of cold beer in stores "for the first time in my lifetime," he said. The vote also extended store sales of beer and light wine to Sundays. Hours of sale will be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., mirroring those given to restaurants for the few Sundays each year that they are allowed to serve beer, wine or liquor by the drink. Oxford restaurateurs, tourism promoters, and some citizens have frequently pushed for extending bar hours and legalizing sales of alcohol for every Sunday. Smith told Fox News viewers that Oxford bars still close on Saturdays at midnight, adding, "But that's another matter -- and they're working on it."
 
Commissioner King says referendum should decide tax hike
Mississippi's southern district transportation commissioner says a legislative proposal to raise millions of dollars in gasoline taxes to fund highway work should instead be put to the people for a vote. Tom King of Petal favors a referendum to legislative action to raise taxes. Earlier this month, Sen. Willie Simmons of the State Transportation Task Force suggested a $700 million tax increase on gas. It would pay for highway maintenance. "We're looking at (an) Arkansas plan as a referendum," said King. "People I've talked to in our area in South Mississippi prefer a referendum and let the people decide on that issue," he said.
 
Bentz officially resigns Public Service Commission post
Southern District Public Service Commissioner Leonard Bentz has officially resigned from the Mississippi Public Service Commission. Bentz was hired recently to become executive director of the Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District, a job that pays $150,000 per year -- almost double his salary as public service commissioner. The PSC confirmed Tuesday that Bentz' resignation became effective Monday morning. Gov. Phil Bryant will make an appointment to replace him on the three-member PSC. The move had been expected because Bentz couldn't hold both jobs at the same time. Bentz has faced criticism from opponents of Mississippi Power Co.'s Kemper County coal-gasification plant, under construction near Meridian. Some political watchers have said Bentz would have faced an uphill battle for re-election because of the Kemper County plant issue.
 
Miller asks Mississippi Legislature for more money for DMR
The state Department of Marine Resources will ask the Legislature for a 4 percent increase in its budget for the fiscal year that will begin July 1, according to a budget request unveiled Tuesday at the Commission on Marine Resources meeting. Miller said he'll make the case for the budget before the Legislative Budget Committee in September. Hearings will be Sept. 16-19 but the dates and times haven't been set. Miller also offered copies of the budget to the public at the meeting. Miller said other sources of revenue -- disaster-relief money from the federal government for Katrina and from BP for the oil spill -- that helped ease the budget shortfall have dried up. Salaries are driving that budget shortfall.
 
New Details Show Broader NSA Surveillance Reach
The National Security Agency -- which possesses only limited legal authority to spy on U.S. citizens -- has built a surveillance network that covers more Americans' Internet communications than officials have publicly disclosed, current and former officials say. The system has the capacity to reach roughly 75% of all U.S. Internet traffic in the hunt for foreign intelligence, including a wide array of communications by foreigners and Americans. In some cases, it retains the written content of emails sent between citizens within the U.S. and also filters domestic phone calls made with Internet technology, these people say. The NSA's filtering, carried out with telecom companies, is designed to look for communications that either originate or end abroad, or are entirely foreign but happen to be passing through the U.S. But officials say the system's broad reach makes it more likely that purely domestic communications will be incidentally intercepted and collected in the hunt for foreign ones.
 
Evangelicals Announce Ad Buy Urging Republicans to Back Immigration Overhaul
A coalition of evangelical groups plans to spend $400,000 advertising on Christian radio stations to call on Congress to pass a broad immigration overhaul that would grant citizenship to many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country. The ads will play in 14 states and 56 congressional districts, mostly represented by Republicans, said Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy and research at the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. The ad buy represents another August recess salvo by evangelical immigration advocates to persuade wavering House Republicans to support a comprehensive bill, as the Senate did in June (S 744). The latest round brings total ad spending by the Evangelical Immigration Table to close to $1 million, part of a broader effort by advocates to "win the recess" and send lawmakers back to the Capitol in September ready to move on immigration legislation.
 
Job-based health insurance costs rise in 2013
For the 14th straight year, the average cost of job-based family health insurance grew faster than overall inflation and employee wages, according to a nationwide survey of more than 2,000 businesses released on Tuesday. Annual premiums for employer-sponsored coverage is averaging $16,351 in 2013, up 4 percent from last year, while the annual cost of individual coverage is averaging $5,884 this year, a 5 percent increase from 2012, according to data from the annual Employer Health Benefits Survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust. They continue an eight-year period of mostly modest 4 percent to 6 percent annual increases, the survey reported.
 
Kentucky's Beshear blasts Florida governor over attempts to siphon off businesses
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has drawn fire over the last few months in his repeated attempts to recruit businesses away from other states. But Kentucky Gov. Steven Beshear lashed out directly at Scott this week, sending a letter that called the Republican's efforts "crude" and in "poor taste." Scott has sent letters to business owners in several states contending that they should book a "one way" ticket to Florida. The letters have gone out to business owners in nine states with Democratic governors. Economic development officials in several states have criticized the effort. But Beshear may be the first governor who has responded forcefully and directly to Scott. He not only criticized Scott's effort, his letter said that education rankings used by the GOP governor were misleading and in one instance "completely false."
 
Climate change: Scientists now 95 percent certain we are mostly to blame
Since 1951, Earth's climate has warmed by about 0.6 degrees Celsius, and researchers assessing the state of climate science for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are 95 percent certain that more than half of the warming is due to human emissions of greenhouse gases. The statement is one conclusion in the final draft of a summary the IPCC is preparing for world policymakers on the state of the climate and climate science as part of its fifth assessment report on global warming. The IPCC will release the full four-volume set and related summaries beginning at the end of September and into next year. The other volumes deal with current and projected effects of climate change.
 
Beers Implicated in Emergency Room Visits
Nationwide, roughly a third of all visits to emergency rooms for injuries are alcohol related. Now a new study suggests that certain beverages may be more likely to be involved than others. The study, carried out over the course of a year at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, found that five beer brands were consumed most often by people who ended up in the emergency room. They were Budweiser, Steel Reserve, Colt 45, Bud Ice and Bud Light. Previous studies have found that alcohol frequently plays a role in emergency room admissions, especially those stemming from car accidents, falls, homicides and drownings, said the lead author of the study, David H. Jernigan of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The new study, published in the journal Substance Use and Misuse, is the first to look at whether certain brands or types of liquor are overrepresented.
 
Barnes & Noble's Founder Drops Plan to Buy Its Bookstores
Barnes & Noble's founder and chairman, Leonard S. Riggio, disclosed on Tuesday that he had shelved his plan to buy the company's bookstores, as the embattled chain grapples with an uncertain future. His disclosure accompanied the retailer's latest results, which included a loss that more than doubled from the same time last year. Barnes & Noble has also halted discussions with Microsoft over a potential deal to sell the digital assets of Nook Media, which includes Barnes & Noble's troubled e-reader business. (Microsoft owns about 17.6 percent of the unit.) Overall revenue fell 8.5 percent, to $1.33 billion. Shares of Barnes & Noble tumbled 12 percent on Tuesday, to $14.61.
 
Trinity freshmen invited to attend Lott Institute
Trinity Episcopal Day School students Cole Mosby and Hannah Fitt were just like any other University of Mississippi students for three weeks this summer. The Trinity freshmen stayed in the dorms on campus, ate lunch at the student union and even played ultimate Frisbee in the Grove. The only difference between Mosby, Fitt and any other incoming students was a few years in age. Mosby and Fitt, 14, were among 80 students from across the state who participated in the Lott Leadership Institute for Rising Ninth Graders at the University of Mississippi.
 
UM senior in Jordan studying Arabic language, culture, traveling
While recent events in the Middle East may discourage travel to the region, a University of Mississippi senior seized the opportunity to study in Irbid, Jordan this summer and fall. "I wanted to study in Jordan because my father is from there," said Samira Abunemeh of Philadephia and a Neshoba Central High School graduate. "I have family in the country, so I believe learning the Jordanian dialect is more important for me than to learn another Arabic dialect. Also, even with recent events in the Middle East, Jordan has been relatively peaceful. It is a safe place for people to study." Abunemeh is enrolled at Yarmouk University in Irbid, earning academic credit toward her UM degree in international studies. The opportunity is made possible through UM's Study Abroad Office and CET Academic Programs.
 
Ole Miss students win Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award
The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights awards the RFK Journalism Award to recognize outstanding reporting on issues that reflect Robert Kennedy's dedication to human rights and social issues. The winning project, "M-Powered: University of Mississippi students learn through service in Belize," was led and edited by Patricia Thompson, director of student media and assistant professor, who created the "Multimedia Storytelling" study abroad course. The multimedia course was a partnership with the Division of Outreach and Continuing Education.
 
Jackson State University students experience dorm delay
Dozens of Jackson State University students were told Tuesday that their rooms are not ready. The students were trying to move into the university's new off-campus dormitory. But on the day the students were supposed to be unpacking in their new dorm rooms, university officials announced a change in plans. "We apologize for the inconvenience," said JSU Communications Director Eric Stringfellow. "We know that the parents and students are frustrated." More than 200 students were supposed to check into the Travelodge near the Mississippi Fairgrounds, which is known as Tiger Plaza, but as of Tuesday afternoon, they were on standby. JSU student Glen Mason said he had already been moved around six times on Tuesday.
 
Updated U. of Alabama policy bans guns everywhere on campus, even at games; violators face ban
Guns are still banned from the University of Alabama campus, according to the updated policy on dangerous weapons the Capstone released this week. "The University prohibits the possession, transportation, and use of firearms and other dangerous weapons on campus," the new policy reads. "This policy applies to all persons on campus, including faculty, staff, students, contractors, patients, and visitors." The rule strictly bans guns and any other weapons on campus, which the policy defines as all property owned, leased or controlled by the university and any affiliated foundation or health care entity, including buildings, parking lots and other outdoor property. The policy also says weapons carried on campus may be confiscated.
 
U. of Tennessee engineering hires faculty, grows enrollment
Sara Agle's mother taught her to disassemble a laptop when she was 10 years old. "I thought it was really interesting to have these really complicated machines with so much information stored in such relatively little space," she said. Today, Agle will be one of a record 708 University of Tennessee freshmen starting classes in the College of Engineering -- 88 more students than last year. Over the last five years, the college has grown its undergraduate enrollment 37 percent, and it has a multimillion dollar plan to continue that growth over the next five years, said Dean Wayne Davis. After a pitch to the governor -- and commitments from other parts of the university -- the state allocated $3 million in recurring funding to help make that happen. Over the next three years, the state money will be used to hire a lecturer, seven assistant professors, seven full professors and three "faculty of practice" -- that is, real-world engineers qualified to teach at the college level.
 
University of Louisiana System to help find jobs for students
The state's largest network of universities announced a deal Monday to help more than 92,000 students at the nine-college University of Louisiana System have an easier time finding jobs upon graduation. The University of Louisiana System's partnership with MyEdu, of Austin, Texas, also is billed as a way for students to stay on track with their schoolwork, shorten their time to graduation and find internships. Since 2010, MyEdu has been working with universities and collecting data to help students develop personal education plans. The company uses a social media platform similar to LinkedIn to give students one place where they can plan their school schedules, build a degree "road map" and keep track of their progress as they move closer toward graduation. The company got its initial boost through a $10 million investment from the University of Texas system. Since then, it's gotten mixed reviews on the University of Texas-Austin campus with the school's newspaper calling on the company to "go back to the drawing board," for not bringing anything new to the table.
 
UF Health on course to raise its rankings
At a time when most of the University of Florida's colleges and departments were cutting budgets and holding off on new hires, UF Health recruited new faculty, built new clinical and research facilities and secured grants for groundbreaking projects. That growth is a sign that the five-year strategic plan implemented in 2010 is on course, said Dr. David Guzick, senior vice president for health affairs and president of UF Health. The plan, dubbed "Forward Together," was designed to underscore and strengthen the collaboration between the university's Health Science Center and Shands Hospital. That merging of institutions was symbolized in May when UF&Shands was renamed UF Health.
 
Obama Vows Action on College Costs, but Will It Work?
In a speech at Knox College last month, President Obama said he would "shake up" higher education with an "aggressive strategy" aimed at making college more affordable. On Thursday the president will embark on a two-state, three-campus tour where he'll lay out what he has in mind. In a letter sent to his supporters this week, he promises "real reforms that would bring lasting change." But it's hard to see how the president will tackle two of the root causes of tuition growth: labor costs and state budget cuts. Despite productivity gains and a move toward self-guided, "competency-based" learning, higher education remains highly dependent on skilled labor. At the same time, many states have slashed their spending on higher education, forcing public colleges to raise tuition to cover costs.
 
Advanced Placement classes failing students
Taxpayers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years to nudge more students into Advanced Placement classes -- but a close look at test scores suggests much of the investment has been wasted. Expanding participation in AP classes has been a bipartisan goal, promoted by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and by Republican governors including Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and John Kasich of Ohio. In the last five years, the federal government has spent $275 million to promote the classes and subsidize exam fees for low-income students; states have spent many millions more. Enrollment in AP classes has soared. But data analyzed by Politico shows that the number of kids who bomb the AP exams is growing even more rapidly. In its annual reports, the nonprofit College Board, which runs the Advanced Placement program, emphasizes the positive.
 
Education standards: Best and brightest -- Only a few countries are teaching children how to think
Bama Companies has been making pies and biscuits in Oklahoma since the 1920s. But the company is struggling to find Okies with the skills to fill even its most basic factory jobs. Such posts require workers to think critically, yet graduates of local schools are often unable to read or do simple maths. This is why the company recently decided to open a new factory in Poland---its first in Europe. "We hear that educated people are plentiful," explains Paula Marshall, Bama's boss. Poland has made some dramatic gains in education in the past decade. What is Poland doing right? And what is America doing wrong? Amanda Ripley, an American journalist, seeks to answer such questions in "The Smartest Kids in the World", her fine new book about the schools that are working around the globe. Though America's grim education results come in for special drubbing in this book, the country is not alone in failing to teach its children how to think critically.
 
BRIAN PERRY: Barbour and Lott's town
Consultant and columnist Brian Perry writes: "Mark Leibovich, chief national correspondent for The New York Times Magazine, jolted establishment Washington, DC with his new book, 'This Town' which explores the personal relationships, egos and social engagements of Washington's best known politicians, lobbyists, journalists and socialites. The peak behind the curtain story could send Tea Party conservatives or good government liberals frothing at the mouth; confirm the skepticism of passive political observers; and concern those in 'The Club' that they might be mentioned, or worse, that they wouldn't be mentioned. Leibovich notes in his prologue the terms referencing this insider class in Washington, DC: Permanent Washington, The Political Class, The Usual Suspects, The Beltway Establishment, The Echo Chamber, The Gang of 500, and others including, 'This Town.' ...Two Mississippians made the cut for discussion in Leibovich's book: Haley Barbour and Trent Lott. The book was written when Barbour was a former governor and Lott was a former senator; but that does not slow their inclusion as members of 'This Town.'"
 
BOBBY HARRISON: Common Core's math is a real challenge | Bobby Harrison (Opinion)
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison writes: "During the upcoming 2014 session of the Mississippi Legislature, it is likely that some conservative legislators affiliated with the Tea Party movement will try to pass a bill to block the state's planned enactment of Common Core national standards. The whole issue creates an interesting political dynamic since Mississippi Republicans have gone the extra mile to court the Tea Party movement, yet the Republican leadership of the state has vocally expressed support in the past for improving and toughening the standards for the public schools. Perhaps that political dynamic could be turned into a Common Core test question. But please no multiple choice answers and provide textual evidence to support your ideas."
 
SID SALTER: Lack of air conditioning on death row hardly 'cruel and unusual'
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "The notion that the taxpayers of Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida are submitting death row prisoners in those states to 'cruel and unusual punishment' by not providing air conditioning for their cells is news indeed to people of a certain age across the South. ...I do not subscribe to the 'bread and water' theory of incarceration for even the worst criminals. They are human beings and deserve nutrition, shelter and sanitary living conditions. To provide less is an abdication by society of the basic human decency that we punish criminals for failing to observe. ...But is air conditioning really part of that obligation? ...The notion that failing to provide air conditioning for murderers is one that just seems laughable to those of us who are old enough to remember when none of us enjoyed those comforts."


SPORTS
 
Bulldogs get into gameday mindset
Game week isn't quite here, but it sure felt like it to Jay Hughes on Tuesday. Mississippi State is still trying to polish up some things from preseason camp, but players and coaches are turning more of their attention to the season opener, which is just 10 days away. The Bulldogs open on Aug. 31 against No. 13 Oklahoma State in Houston. After taking Monday off for the start of fall classes, MSU was back on the practice field Tuesday, and the anticipation of another season is growing. "Yeah, I can feel it," said Hughes, a junior safety. "I actually felt it today when I stepped on the practice field. I had in my mind I was going to have a good day, and I did."
 
Mississippi State's Swedenburg boasts Jumbo leg
Even with massive men racing at him with bad intentions, Baker Swedenburg admits his mind wanders. Where to? His image on the Jumbotron. "I try not to but it happens every now and then," the Mississippi State punter said. "Then there's that little delay so as I'm swinging my arms, it's off. And then I'm like, 'I shouldn't even be thinking about that.' " Nothing has stopped the senior from emerging as one of the best punters in the Southeastern Conference. Not bad weather. Not fancy punt-block schemes. Not even the Jumbotron.
 
Autry looks to lead Bulldogs' defensive effort
There are only 12 regular season games left in the career of Mississippi State University defensive end Denico Autry. Such is the life of a junior college transfer, it appears just after the minute they sign with the Division 1 college program, they're out of eligibility and walking out of the door. Autry is feeling that sense of desperation in his final season on the Starkville campus. "I think about that a little bit but it's hard to not let that thought get in the way of doing my job on a daily basis," Autry said. All eyes are pointed at Autry as the 265-pound pass rusher is trying to quickly impress professional scouts in order to make a spot for himself at the next level.
 
Mississippi State's Chris Jones adjusting to faster pace in college
Like every other Mississippi State University football player, Chris Jones is weighed before and after practice. But Jones' weight has become a focus of conversation for the MSU coaches, who may opt to use the five-start recruit from Houston right from the start. "If and when he becomes too heavy, I'll let him know, but we haven't reached that point," MSU defensive line coach David Turner said. "When he gets too thin, he'll probably come and let me know, but I promise you we haven't reached that point." Jones, who played at 250 pounds at Houston High School, weighed "closer to 300 pounds," according to Turner, when he arrived at school. Turner believes that is a weight Jones will be able to handle this season.
 
Bulldogs working to get consistency on defensive line
There is a good bit experience and depth on the Mississippi State defensive line, but the key word this year is consistency. In his second stint with the Bulldogs as the defensive line coach, David Turner inherits a vast amount of talent and big bodies. Although there's some experience with the defensive line, last Saturday in practice his squad took a step back. "We've had more good days than bad days," Turner said. "We're really trying to preach consistency, (and) getting better every day. The guys are trying, getting a little bit better and that's all we ask. (We want to) try to get a little bit better every day. Fundamentally, we've just got to continue to improve."
 
MSU Football Fan Day Set For Saturday
While kickoff for the 2013 campaign is a little more than a week away, Mississippi State fans can experience an early start to the season with the annual Fan Day festivities slated for Saturday, Aug. 24. The event will be held from 1-3 p.m. at the Palmeiro Center and will once again be open to the public, family-friendly and free for all who attend. Bulldog football fans are invited to receive autographs from head coach Dan Mullen and the 2013 team. To help ensure everyone in attendance has a chance to meet all the players and Coach Mullen, fans are asked to limit their autograph requests to one item per person, and players will only sign the 2013 football posters that the athletic department will provide.
 
Ray, Bulldogs unveil challenging schedule
Rick Ray will begin his second Southeastern Conference slate in the league's most historic building -- Rupp Arena. After the announcement of the SEC slate Tuesday, Mississippi State University learned its 2014 league schedule will open with a road affair against the University of Kentucky. Kentucky, which failed to qualify for the NCAA tournament in 2013 a year after winning the national championship, is bringing in the top ranked recruiting class according to several publication with six players in ESPN.com's Top 100 rankings.
 
Basketball: Afternoon tipoffs for Rebels vs. Bulldogs
Ole Miss and Mississippi State will square off early this coming basketball season. The SEC's 2013-14 schedule was released Tuesday, along with game times and TV information. The Rebels and Bulldogs will first clash on Saturday, Jan. 11 in Starkville, at 3 p.m. on ESPNU. Two weeks later, they meet in Oxford for another 3 p.m. tipoff on the syndicated SEC Network. MSU, which went 10-22 last year under new coach Rick Ray, opens its SEC slate at Kentucky on Jan. 8. State also plays host to the Wildcats on Feb. 8, marking the first time since 1991 the teams have met twice in the regular season. That was the year before the SEC expanded to 12 teams and split into divisions.
 
RICK CLEVELAND: Magnolia State a football legend factory
Mississippi sports columnist Rick Cleveland writes: "As another high school football season begins, this question looms as pertinent as ever: What is it about football in our state that produces the greatest players in the sport's history? How did Mississippi high school football produce the leading passer in NFL history (Brett Favre), the leading receiver (Jerry Rice), the leading scorer (Rice again), the second leading rusher (Walter Payton) and the patriarch of the first family of American football (Archie Manning)? While we're at it, let's throw in the all-time leading yardage producer in NCAA history (Steve McNair). ...What makes Mississippi football so special?"
 
U. of Tennessee's Butch Jones offers boost at United Way fundraising kickoff
United Way of Greater Knoxville kicked off its 2013 fundraising campaign Tuesday morning with a football-style pep talk from a surprise special guest -- University of Tennessee football coach Butch Jones. The new head coach talked about being a volunteer as much as a Volunteer, saying that his team since he arrived has collectively logged more than 1,500 hours of community service, including with United Way-sponsored agencies. Campaign chairman and UT football and men's basketball play-by-play broadcaster Bob Kesling announced a campaign goal of $12 million, compared with $11.7 raised last year. Also speaking during the kickoff breakfast was UT athletic director Dave Hart, who encouraged all to give, no matter how small. "It doesn't matter how much you give, it matters that you are a part of the giving spirit," he said.
 
Heisman Trophy: R.I.P. to Traditional Campaigns
The lavish performance center that Oregon opened this month is the physical embodiment of this gilded age of college football, when coaches bleed millions in annual salaries out of state universities, man-made waterfalls are built into locker rooms and a team is struggling to keep up if it doesn't have its own grotto. As it turns out, though, there is such a thing as excess in this financially unhinged sport. The one realm of restraint: Heisman Trophy campaigns. For a half-century, schools have promoted their star players for the Heisman, college football's premier award, engaging in an arms race of promotional knickknacks and tchotchkes. But now, traditional Heisman publicity blitzes are dying. The downfall of Heisman campaigns is often credited to social media. But another reason, school officials say, is Johnny Manziel.



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