Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

From The Dawghouse

There are 240 total pages in the SEC Football Media Guide. We find school and team information, stats, standings, team and player records, all sorts of honors lists, and several self-celebratory sections (SECtions?) of Aren’t-We-Awesomeness. And, not a single sentence noting pre-season all-conference selections.

I could have missed it somewhere. I haven’t actually turned all twelve-score sheets. Still my suspicion is anyone seeking lists of who was voted by media, coaches, whoever to be re-voted All-SEC at season’s ends must enquire elsewhere.


This factoid in no way diminishes the recognition received Tuesday by four Bulldogs. Without going all Oscar Wilde-ish on advantages of simply being talked about as opposed to otherwise, it’s a welcome boost for these guys and by extension their teammates. Most of all, the correct (but not automatic) choice of Dak Prescott as first-team quarterback.


August acclaim also is good for Chris Jones’ SEC and national awareness, as an obvious rising star and potential pro prospect. We have to remind that he and second-team selection Will Redmond are both pegged preseason all-leaguers without having yet started a college game. Ryan Brown has. His selection actually is the most positive statement on State in my mind, since Brown’s image is of a steady and unspectacular sort. Obviously SEC coaches know better. So do NFL scouts.


The headliner is still Prescott. No. I do not recall a Mississippi State quarterback beginning a season on the top squad. Certainly not in the SEC Coaches poll but then that’s just in its 13th year. But from late 70s to present, none come to this MSU mind. This is where it would be helpful if there WAS a convenient listing of media or coaches picks in preseason.


Helpful and more to the point instructive.


The theme here is not justified joy in having four Dogs recognized. Or, rightful wrath of anyone overlooked, as our message board posts proclaim. Rather let me toss out a very random sampling of names selected from, ohhh, how about a timeframe to match the 1984 of the SEC Coaches post-season team. What did these Bulldogs have in common?


Ricky Byrd 1990. Arleye Gibson 1993. Greg Favors 1997. Robert Bean 1999. Jared Cook 2004. Quinton Culberson 2006. Chris White 2010. Ben Beckwith 2014. And most obvious example of all, Prescott himself last fall.


Y’all know the answer of course as this was a set-up.


As best I can recall none of them were first-team on any of the recognized pre-season all-conference squads. Most didn’t make any team, though I have to think Bean was a known quantity to coaches. Everyone else only noticed—and heard—his ’98 compadre Fred Smoot. Speaking of whom, yeah. Fred surely was a preseason first-teammer. I again can’t document it without spending too many hours in the Library microfiche files, but something tells me Smoot as well as Eric Moulds, Fletcher Cox, maybe Boobie Dixon, and a few others did get summer first-team selections somewhere.


But all the above ended the year first-team by AP or Coaches or usually both. We can make a reasonable case Beckwith had the most unexpected and unlikely ascension from not merely un-voted but practically unknown, to the SEC’s first-squad. Prescott serves as the easier example.


Because even if he opened half the 2013 season out of necessity, 2014 was his first as the ‘starter’. To go from alternate to top quarterback of the whole stinkin’ SEC on every balloting that mattered is a story to savor. The first such Bulldog triggerman so recognized, as you should know by now, since Don Smith in 1986. When Prescott is done sometime in (we hope) January 2015 there must inevitably be the comparison of Don vs. Dak as players by someone who covered both.


The point gradually emerging here is simple enough. Sure it’s better in a popularity contest, certainly with media but even with coaches since everybody doesn’t play much less scout every other league team, to make the pre-season rolls. Because in December voters can pull out summer ballots for fast reference; read, rinse ‘n repeat as necessary.


But for the guys with really big break-out years starting position is easily overcome. Especially at Mississippi State. The fact is when a Bulldog team has a really big year folk look for those responsible and generally reward them. Compare it to 2014’s unprecedented leap from unranked to #1 in the space of a memorable month.


The difference now is Prescott, Jones, Redmond, and Brown benefit from the great 2014 with a head-start in 2015 awareness. Still their post-season popularity will hinge on the flip-side of State’s perception. Anything less than another great year and they’re forgotten for the newest flavor sensation. Everyone already knows that a sizable segment of the regional and more so national media would prefer to pick a more pro-stylish quarterback for All-SEC. So Dak has to be not just better than the opposition, he has to be a lot better.


I doubt he’s worried on this score. Because this is where we must drag out the annual “doesn’t matter where you start it is where you finish” mantra. Just like we do with preseason polls, come to think of it.

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