From the Dawghouse

So, what's on your summer reading schedule this late-summer? I just received my 'assignment' for the next few weeks. And while it's unlikely I worry with all 296 pages of text, there is plenty of material to study in 2004's edition of the Mississippi State football guide before the season kicks off.

Yes, the new football book is here and I've jerked two copies out of the first shipment. One for the files and one to wear out by the time the season ends. I have some older MSU guides on the shelf, the pages still bound together only by gravity.

No need to comment on the merits of the publication. Mike Nemeth and John Cade have done the usual quality job, which is worthy to sit beside any other SEC media book. Though, admittedly, it's not as hefty as some. You have to see the encyclopediac productions that come out of Florida, LSU, and their big-buck ilk.

Actually, you have to carry them to appreciate the heft…and then wonder, seriously, what's the point? If the NFL can get by on a standard mandated handbook that literally can fit in a back pocket, why must colleges produce volumes of telephone book size? It's a 'media' guide after all and all we writers really need are biographical sketches, stats, and records. We don't care what year the first dorm was built, or who the student union is named after. But until the NCAA legislates them away, we have to collect a stack of books from every foe in the league. And by the way, I see State's guides are available for purchase on the athletic department website.

I doubt it will surprise y'all at all to point out the unofficial but very obvious theme of this year's book. The new man. There are three photos of Sylvester Croom on the cover alone. There are 26 shots in all of the new head coach, though 25 of 'em are in the first 84 pages. And to be fair, there were at least 23 assorted snaps of Jackie Sherrill in the '03 volume. I found just two in this year's edition...sic transit gloria.

It's also good to see a full-page tribute to Voice of the Bulldogs Jack Cristil. I bet you didn't know that after 51 years on the MSU job, Jack still ranks only fourth on the active sportscaster list.

So here's a few more didja-knows? to ponder.

...of the 97 roster players listed going into preseason (that total will surely change) 55 are Mississippians, while Alabama and Georgia have supplied 11 player each.

...of the 37 Mississippi hometowns, naturally Jackson ranks first with five residents on the roster. Guess what town is second? Clarksdale, at four.

...placekicker Keith Andrews scored a Louisiana-state record 220 career points at Ouachita Christian in Bastrop, La.

...linebacker Rico Bennett's first name is really Frank.

...the longest player biography belongs to senior tailback Fred Reid, just over two full pages. He has 603 career yards in 34 games. Junior safety Darren Williams' bio is just a few lines shorter.

...offensive lineman James Cochran's nickname in high school was 'Lurch.'

...deep snapper Russell Cook is the son and nephew of former Bulldog lettermen.

...defensive tackle Ronald Fields has a cousin, Ken Allen, playing defensive line at LSU.

...defensive back David Chong Heard was born in Seoul, South Korea.

...freshman defensive lineman Anthony Strauder plans to major in biological sciences.

...the biggest grin of any Bulldog headshot belongs, naturally, to fullback Darnell Jones. He's happy because he really loves this new offensive scheme.

...the most popular major is fitness management. But receiver Tyler Threadgill is majoring in communications, Tee Milons in sports communications, and tight end Blake Pettit in public relations. Noooo, fellas, please listen to the voice of experience here and try something sane…and profitable.

...cornerbacks coach Shane Beamer is the youngest position-assistant on Croom's staff, at 27 years young. Dang, I was a sophomore at State in 1977. Woody McCorvey is the ranking veteran, turning 55 this September.

...Starting this year with the official debut of the 'M State' there will have been seven distinct logos used on Bulldog helmets since 1951.

...Lots of y'all loathe morning kickoffs and what it does to pregame tailgating. But State is 15-15 in JP games.

...State has a 3-0 record in games played on, get this, Wednesday. And winning records all-time in both September and October. You don't want to know about November, though.

...State's highest final national ranking ever was 9th, in 1940 by A.P.

...the last Bulldog named first-team All-SEC in either the AP or Coaches was Pig Prather in 2001. The last first-team All-Americans in a reasonably major ranking were Fred Smoot and Pork Chop Womack in 2000.

...and, there has never been a MSU letterman with a last name starting with X. And only one Q, Chris Quillian.

We could go on playing trivia here, but you get the idea. This book has all you want to know about the 2004 Bulldogs save how many games State is going to win and who the victims will be. Oh, and gametimes. All our lives are set to TV schedules these days.

But there's weeks left before the network lights are turned on and the season kicks off. Time to do some more reading, that is.

David Murray is the Editor of the Dawgs' Bite magazine and the featured writer for the Dawgs Bite: Powered by website. You can contact him by email at

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