2005 Egg Bowl Remembered: Clarence McDougal

Clarence McDougal loves talking about football, but he does not stop there. In this installment of the Egg Bowl Remembered, Clarence weighs in on Bulldog football, All-Star games and former Ole Miss player Mike Espy.

SR: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the Battle for the Golden Egg?

CM: The main thing is respect for the state.

SR: I know last year's win was a big win for the Bulldog seniors especially after the game the year before in Oxford. What did you all make of the post game comments after the 2004 Egg Bowl?

CM: Coach had all of those comments made to the media in the locker room after the game. We had to read that stuff everyday for a year. We knew that stuff wasn't true. We knew we could all play ball, so we weren't that worried about it. You have to know (Mike) Espy. He is just a talker. We just wanted to win the game and that helped us get ready.

SR: Now you and Mike Espy have a bit of a history.

CM: Yeah, he went to our rival school, so we had some battles. We got a little mixed up in the All-Star game.

SR: Well, let's talk about that. There have been a lot of rumors over the years about what went on with that. Would you like to clear the air and give your version of what happened?

CM: Yes, I would. It was just a little freak accident. That's all it was. We were running and we got tangled up and that's all that happened. It wasn't deliberate or anything. It was just one of those things that happened.

SR: Now did you and Mike maintain any kind of contact while you all were in college?

CM: I used to see Mike a lot at different places in Jackson. Me and Mike were cool. It was all just an accident. Stuff happens, but I don't have any resentment towards him.

SR: Well, now that we have cleared the air about that let's talk about the 2005 Egg Bowl. Knowing that game was your last one, what was your mental preparation?

CM: We knew we had to win. It was a fun week leading up to that game. We knew it was our last game and we wanted to go out and show the fans that we are turning things around up here. We perpared hard and wanted to get that win to give the team something to build on for next year. It was a long week in some ways. We had to read all the time that they owned Mississippi and Coach Croom said that was one of our goals. We just wanted to get the win to end all of that.

SR: Now being a senior you always want to end on a positive note, but how important was it to send Jerious out a winner?

CM: Norwood was really the team leader. We all really bonded while we were together. I wish we had won more, but that's just one of those things you go through in life. We were all real close, so we wanted to win for each other. We had a good team, but we didn't get the wins we needed to. We were all friends and we're still friends. It's a family thing up here and we're always going to be family.

SR: Now focusing on the game itself. Things were kind of rough in the early going and you blocked a punt that sort of turned things around.

CM: After the first time they punted I went over to the sidelines and told coach that I thought I could get one. The wing man was going out a little bit and sure enough on the next punt he did the same thing and I got in there. I tipped it just a little bit. I wish I had blocked it clean, but it was a good play. I was excited. That play really turned the momentum around. A couple of plays later Jeriuous got in the end zone. Momentum is a real big thing in those rivalry games. They came out and scored first and we needed a big play to get back in it.

SR: Now with the score 35-14 and 1st and goal, a lot of the fans really wanted to see you all punch that last one in rather than take a knee. What was the feeling on the sidelines?

CM: We had already made a big enough statement. Coach did right. We respect those guys. We wanted to win the game, but we didn't want to rub it in. We blew them out anyway. What would have been the point in scoring again? Coach did the right thing.

SR: What did it mean to you players, especially you seniors, to hand that trophy to Coach Croom?

CM: That was a big statement for Mississippi State and for Coach. It was a big game. There are a lot of things people don't see with Coach Croom that make him a great coach. You want to do things for him. It was just a great feeling for me. We won the game and it was my last game. It was a great feeling to give that trophy to Coach. He is going to continue on and I think we're going to get this one too this weekend.

SR: Talk a bit about the locker room celebration and what the fans didn't get to see.

CM: It was crunk up. (laughs) We did the Dog Pound Rock. It was just a big celebration. We went 3-8, but that was a bulding point for us. It was a statement game. We were just building the stage. We did the Dog Pound Rock just like it was old times. It was just a great moment.

SR: I know it had to be a little different for you because the program you played for wasn't the program you signed with. When you signed the team was rolling and the team had some struggles while you were there. Do you ever have any regrets?

CM: The only regret I have is playing in that All-Star game. I think things would have been a lot different for me if I had come up here healthy. That is the only regret I have. They told me back then that I may never play again, so I am very happy to have had those three years. I am happy they gave me the opportunity and stuck with me. I wouldn't change it. I had a great chance up here. You learn from things and you have to move on.

SR: So what are you doing for yourself now?

CM: I am back in school trying to graduate. I am probably going to get into coaching. I may go play for the Tupelo Mudcats in the Arena league if I graduate in December. My degree is going to be interdisciplinary studies.

SR: Now let's talk a bit about MSU football now. They had some injuries this season, but how do you feel about the future of Mississippi State football?

CM: It's going to be good. I go to every game and I watch the team. We have some talent. It's not always about talent it's about making the plays you are supposed to make. They are in a learning curve. I think we're going to be really good and I am excited about it. We have some young talent and some of them are freshmen. When those guys are juniors they are going to be really good. Coach Croom is getting his point across. The team is playing hard. Some of the games we lost this year, like Georgia, they will win those games in the future. The program is going upwards, I think. They will be right for next year.

Final question. What should fans expect in this year's Egg Bowl?

CM: The fans should expect a very intense game. The Bulldogs are going to come out and play. For guys like Culberson, Mike Heard and Deljuan Robinson this is their last game. Omarr is playing quarterback in his last game. We just have to out there and perform. I think it will be a good outing for the Dogs. I will be there in the stands and I think Ole Miss better be ready. I think we're going to surprise a bunch of people.

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