The Egg Bowl Remembered with Rod Gibson

Perhaps one of the true unsung Bulldog football heroes of the late 1990s is running back Rod Gibson. Rod was part of the 1998 SEC Western Division Championship team and the ten-win season of 1999 that saw the Bulldogs march as high as #8 in the national polls. Gibson is now coaching at Mississippi Delta Community college and he took time out to talk Egg Bowls and about a TD run against LSU.

SR: Rod, you were part of two teams that accomplished an awful lot at Mississippi State. The team won the Egg Bowls in 1998 and 1999. What are your thoughts about those games?

RG: It was exciting. It's kind of hard to describe because of the atmosphere surrounding the game. Regardless of wins or losses it is always going to be a hard fought game on both sides.

The Egg Bowl in 1998 and in 1999 were both special to me. In '98 we went to their place and dominated the game and won the west on their turf.

In 1999, we had to come from behind in the 4th quarter. Scott Westerfield kicked the game winning field goal and we all went crazy.

We were able to win both Egg Bowls when I was there, so that was nice.

SR: Other than the obvious ones, what plays really stand out to you from those games?

RG: In 1999, on the first touchdown with Dicenzo and I, everything was blocked perfectly. All of the linemen made their blocks, I had a block on Eddie Strong and Dicenzo ran right up the crack untouched for the touchdown. It was just like how we drew it up. I remember that vividly.

The Eugene Clinton interception that got kicked off the foot stands out more than anything because it helped win the game for us.

SR: What did Robert Bean say after that play? It looked like he was pulled down by the receiver and the ball just bounced your way.

RG: He said it was just kind of a freak thing. It was just one of those things that happens. It wasn't planned or anything like that.

SR: Talk a little bit about the rivalry. I know some players talk more about the respect between the two teams and others more about the feud. What's your take?

RG: I wouldn't say we didn't like each other. Off the field we all talked and things like that. It's such a heated rivlary though, when we take the field and get ready to play we are enemies. We want to win that game. You have to hear about that game for a whole year. During the game we didn't have anything nice to say to one another. It's important for recruiting and respect in the state of Mississippi. It's big for a number of reasons.

SR: Well, I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't ask you about the touchdown run to beat LSU in 1999. They are still upset about that one. Did you get in or not?

RG:(Laughs) I got in the endzone. Going back watching that in slow motion and everything else. I was cutting back and it was going to be an easy walk in for a touchdown, but I lost my footing. The ball actually crossed the plane before I did. I was across the goal line, no doubt about it.

SR: It looked like you got in the play before.

RG: The ball didn't cross the goal line on that play. Part of my body was across, but the ball didn't cross. I got kneed in the back of the helmet on that play and kind of blacked out for a second. I was still concious, but I was a little woozy.

SR: Well, let's get your thoughts on this weekend's ball game. What are the keys to the game?

RG: It's hard to say who will win in a game like this. I would love to see Mississippi State come out and dominate the game and finish the season on a positive note. I think that would help in recruiting again, if they could pull out a victory. They need to play mistake free football and they can't turn the ball over in a game like this. I think special teams is going to be a huge factor. It's just going to come down to who makes the most plays.

SR: Final question. How do you see the program today and what do you expect in the future?

RG: I have some kids there and some more kids on the way. I think that the program is up and coming. There have been some positive changes down there. I think Coach Croom and his staff are doing a tremendous job. They have weeded out the bad apples and are turning the program around into what it needs to be.

In the future, the program is going to be where it is supposed to be. I don't think they are very far off at all. They have a young team offensively and they have some key people coming back on defense for next year. If we can have another good year of recruiting we're going to be ready to win some ball games there the next couple of years.


Gene's Page Top Stories