News from MSU Media Relations--Nov. 24

The latest sports news from the MSU Media Relations Department...Football, Softball, Men's Basketball and Baseball.

DALLAS (FWAA) - The Mississippi State football team is the weekly nominee for the 2010 Discover Orange Bowl Courage Award, to be announced at the end of the season by the Football Writers Association of America.

The Bulldogs are dealing with the tragic death of a teammate earlier this month.

Nick Bell, 20, a sophomore defensive end from Bessemer, Ala., died Nov. 2 after a brief battle with cancer. Bell had played in the Bulldogs' first four games, starting two, but after experiencing headaches and weakness in a hand, doctors found a mass on Bell's brain. The diagnosis was synovial sarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer.

Bell underwent surgery Oct. 1. Doctors were hopeful Bell would return to football after treatment was completed. Wearing a camouflage hat, he watched Mississippi State's win over UAB from the sidelines Oct. 23. But before chemotherapy could begin, his health worsened.

When Bell noticed he couldn't touch his thumb to his index finger and his vision was blurry, he was rushed to the hospital Oct. 31 for emergency surgery to remove another mass from his brain, according to the Birmingham News. Buses from Starkville, Miss., carried more than 50 teammates and coaches to the Birmingham, Ala., hospital, but Bell did not regain consciousness.

"We grabbed a bus and loaded up a bunch of guys," coach Dan Mullen told the Associated Press. "I think it's great that a lot of our players got to go over there, see the situation and get to say their goodbyes."

His teammates have persevered. Despite losing both games (to ranked opponents Alabama and Arkansas) since his death, Mississippi State is 7-4 heading into the annual "Egg Bowl" battle with in-state rival Mississippi.

The school has honored Bell's life in several ways. At last Saturday's home game with Arkansas, Bell's mother, Linda, ended an emotional pregame ceremony with MSU's greatest tradition, raising a cowbell above her head. The MSU marching band honored Bell with a formation that spelled out "36," his jersey number. Each 36-yard line was painted black rather than the traditional white, and the number 36 was painted on the field inside a maroon-and-white circle.

The Bulldogs are wearing patches with Bell's name and number on their jerseys. Against Arkansas, tight end Kendrick Cook wore Bell's jersey number.

"Nick lived his life like a champion and will always be remembered in our hearts that way," Mullen said in a statement released by the school. "During this impossible time, we pray for Nick's family and all those he has touched."

For the fifth straight year, the Football Writers Association of America and the Discover Orange Bowl will announce a weekly nominee for the Discover Orange Bowl Courage Award each Wednesday during the season. A blue-ribbon panel will determine the award's recipient from those weekly nominees. The recipient of the Courage Award will be announced in December and presented with the trophy in conjunction with this year's Discover Orange Bowl.

The Courage Award was created by ESPN The Magazine's senior writer Gene Wojciechowski, also an FWAA member. A select group of FWAA members vote on the recipient each year. The requirements for nomination include displaying courage on or off the field, including overcoming an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living through hardship.

Previous winners of the FWAA's Courage Award are the Connecticut Huskies (2009), Tulsa's Wilson Holloway (2008), Navy's Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson's Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane Green Wave (2005), Memphis' Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State's Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo's William Bratton (2002).

The Orange Bowl Committee is a not-for-profit, 343-member, primarily-volunteer organization. It is a self-sustaining, independent organization that supports and produces activities and events that enhance the image, economy and culture of South Florida. The Orange Bowl Festival features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the Discover Orange Bowl on January 3, 2011. Other OBC core events include the MetroPCS Orange Bowl Basketball Classic, Orange Bowl Youth Football Alliance presented by Sports Authority, Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships and Orange Bowl Sailing Regatta Series. For more information on the 2010-11 Orange Bowl Festival and its events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program, visit

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,200 men and women who cover college football for a living. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include gameday operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at or 972-713-6198.

2010 Discover Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees
• Sept. 29: Zac Etheridge, Auburn and Rodney Scott, Ole Miss
• Oct. 6: Jon Hoese, Minnesota
• Oct. 13: Marquez Herrod, Colorado
• Oct. 20: Matt Anderson, North Dakota State
• Oct. 27: Jamie Hampton, Troy
• Nov. 3: Ricky Dobbs, Navy
• Nov. 17: Andrew, Colter and Paul Phillips
• Nov. 24: Mississippi State Bulldogs

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's softball program will host its annual slate of winter clinics Jan. 28-30, head coach Jay Miller announced Tuesday.

The Bulldogs open the instruction-filled weekend with a coaching clinic on Jan. 28. The session, which runs from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., covers drills, suggested practice plans and much more along with the opportunity to interact with Mississippi State's veteran coaching staff.

Two separate sessions, an all-skills clinic and a junior high pitching and catching clinic, open the camp sessions on Jan. 29. The winter clinics conclude Jan. 30 with a hitting clinic and a high school pitching and catching clinic.

For camp registration information, contact Annie Smith (662-325-0572 or or go to and click the camps links on the softball home page.

The two pitching and catching clinics are designed to provide in-depth instruction into both pitching and catching. Participants will learn the basic fundamentals of either position, plus have the opportunity to learn advanced skills and drills related to pitching or catching. These clinics will aid the athlete just learning the skills or the advanced softball player.

The all-skills clinic will cover mechanics, skills and drills designed to help improve play at the plate and in the field, while the hitting clinics will guide participants through the mechanics, skills and batting drills that will aid in the improvement of power and consistency at the plate.

All sessions will be conducted by ninth-year head coach Jay Miller, associate head coach Annie Smith and assistant coach Alan Colglazier. Miller, MSU's winningest coach, has been internationally recognized as one of the top coaches and teachers in softball. He also serves as head coach of the United States Women's National Team, winning the ISF World Championship, a second-straight World Cup of Softball and the Japan Cup last summer with the Red, White and Blue.

A leading authority on softball technology, Miller, an NFCA Hall of Fame inductee, has written more than 30 articles for professional publication, including the "Offensive Strategy" chapter for The Softball Coaching Bible, published by Human Kinetics Press in 2002. He has also developed four softball skills videotapes that are published internationally in addition to his extensive work as one of the top softball clinicians in the world.

Miller and his staff have guided the Bulldogs to six NCAA regional appearances in the last eight seasons, and entering his 29th season as a head coach, he ranks 12th among active NCAA Division I coaches with 980 victories.

2011 Mississippi State Softball Winter Clinics
Jan. 28 - Coaches Clinic (9 a.m.-5 p.m.)
Jan. 29 - All-Skills Clinic (9 a.m.-1 p.m.)
Jan. 29 - Junior High Pitching and Catching Clinic (2 p.m.-6 p.m.)
Jan. 30 - Hitting Clinic (9 a.m.-1 p.m.)
Jan. 30 - High School Pitching and Catching Clinic (2 p.m.-6 p.m.)

Men's Basketball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State continues its nine-game homestand to open the season when the Troy Trojans invade Humphrey Coliseum at 6 p.m. on Friday.

Tickets remain available for the contest and can be purchased at a special price of $5.

MSU, which owns a 3-0 ledger following its 82-76 win on Monday against Detroit, is 7-0 all-time against Troy. The two last met in December of 2005, with the Bulldogs claiming an 88-77 overtime victory.

"We still have a lot of areas of improvement, but we're getting better each game," MSU coach Rick Stansbury said.

The Bulldogs are seeking their first 4-0 start since 2008-09 and the fifth with Stansbury at the helm. MSU got to 3-0 thanks to clutch play down the stretch in all three games.

How clutch?

In the first three outings, all won by 10 points or less, Mississippi State has drained 24 of its 29 free throws in the final three minutes of action. Also of note, MSU hasn't opened the season with four-straight games decided by 10 points or less since the 1942-43 campaign.

"These are the types of games we expected," Stansbury said.

Fortunately for the Bulldogs, they've gotten solid play out of senior guard Ravern Johnson and senior forward Kodi Augustus.

Johnson leads the SEC with his 25.3 scoring clip, while Augustus is second in rebounding (11.0) and tied for eighth in scoring (16.7). Against Detroit, they scored 25 and 10 points, respectfully.

Following the game against the Titans, Stansbury said the ideal situation is for the two to combine for 45 points. While that goal came up a bit short, guards Riley Benock and Twany Benock made up the difference.

Both had career nights, as Benock scored 13 points and Beckham 9. MSU also got 21 points from its bench, with Jalen Steele pouring in 9, followed by Brian Bryant and Wendell Lewis with 6 each.

"This year, I'm trying to be more aggressive in general," said Benock, who has started all three games and is averaging 8.3 points.

Troy currently sports a 1-3 ledger following its 81-70 setback on Monday at Texas-San Antonio. The Trojans have dropped three straight since opening the year with a 100-59 win against Huntingdon.

They are led in scoring by Vernon Taylor's 16.0 points, followed by Levan Patsatsia at 14.5.

After Monday, the Bulldogs return to action on Tuesday, Nov. 30 at home against Florida Atlantic in the first meeting between the two schools.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's series-opening baseball game with the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Miss., is among seven SEC games included in a national Thursday night SEC Game of the Week television package to be broadcast nationally on ESPNU, the sports broadcasting network announced Wednesday. The seven televised series will be shifted to Thursday-to-Saturday series to accommodate the national telecasts.

ESPNU's inaugural Thursday Night SEC Baseball Game of the Week will debut Thursday, Apr. 7, at 6:30 p.m. (CT) with the South Carolina-Tennessee series-opener from Knoxville and will continue its seven-week run through May 19. A Thursday night national game of the week is a first for the college sport, and features all 12 of the league's baseball teams.

"ESPNU is thrilled to feature a seven-week SEC Thursday night baseball series," said Rosalyn Durant, Vice President, ESPNU. "Showcasing the vast talent of SEC baseball is great for the sport, fans, league and ESPNU. We appreciate the partnership with the SEC in creating this consistent Thursday night national package."

SEC baseball is coming off a successful season that saw South Carolina win the 2010 National Championship Series, Florida advance to the NCAA College World Series and eight SEC teams overall earn NCAA postseason bids. It marked the sixth time since 2000 and the third straight year an SEC team played for college baseball's national title.

"The Thursday night package of SEC games on ESPNU is a great opportunity for us to showcase the outstanding baseball that is played in our conference," said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive. "The ESPNU package will be able to draw attention to the outstanding game-day atmosphere we have at our baseball stadiums as well as the rich tradition and history of SEC baseball."

ESPNU SEC Thursday Night Baseball Schedule
Apr 7 - 7:30 p.m. - South Carolina at Tennessee
Apr 14 - 7:30 p.m. - Tennessee at Alabama
Apr 21 - 7:30 p.m. - Ole Miss at Auburn
Apr 28 - 7:30 p.m. - Kentucky at LSU
May 5 - 7:30 p.m. - Florida at Arkansas
May 12 - 7:30 p.m. - Mississippi State at Ole Miss
May 19 - 7:30 p.m. - Vanderbilt at Georgia

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