Archive for April, 2008

FOOTBALL: SEC adds a lower-tier bowl game

April 30, 2008

This just in from ESPN media services:

ESPN Regional Television (ERT) today announced that the Papajohns.com Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., will host a matchup between the BIG EAST Conference and the Southeastern Conference starting in 2008.

The matchup between a bowl-eligible team from the SEC and one from the BIG EAST came about as the result of negotiations between the two conferences and Conference USA, and with the approval of the NCAA Postseason Bowl Committee. The announcement was made today at the annual Football Bowl Association meetings in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“The approval of the St. Petersburg Bowl offered both Conference USA and the BIG EAST an opportunity to participate in a Florida based bowl game,” said Pete Derzis, Senior Vice President & General Manager, ERT. “Consequently, we were able to partner with the SEC in Birmingham.

“We look forward to the added excitement that the Southeastern Conference will bring to the already successful Papajohns.com Bowl. Birmingham and the SEC, with their lengthy traditions in football, are a natural fit. We’re pleased to present such a matchup to the community.”

The third annual Papajohns.com Bowl will be played at Legion Field on Dec. 29. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. CT and the game will be televised nationally on ESPN and broadcast nationally on ESPN Radio.

— PA

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BASEBALL: Still wounded

April 30, 2008

Infielder Evan Button and outfielder Michael Guerrero remain on the shelf for the Rebels, and while both could be back before the season is over, neither is expected to be around this weekend at Georgia.

Guerrero (foot) is a little closer to getting back than Button (back), a junior and co-captain who has appeared in only 13 games this season. There’s an outside shot Guerrero could get in a game at Georgia.

Guerrero was hitting .303 and had shown some nice pop with nine doubles, four home runs and 30 RBIs when he sustained a stress fracture 11 games ago.

Button was hitting .293 at the time of his departure.

Third-baseman Cody Overbeck (shin splints) has been spelled frequently in the non-conference games the last several weeks but was in the lineup at Memphis last night and was 2-for-5 with an RBI. It’s a day-to-day deal for Overbeck, and it’s unclear if he’ll play tonight against Jackson State.

— PA

FOOTBALL: Thursday night games … are you in?

April 30, 2008

Personally, I’m a fan of a Thursday night game each season, because it gives me a Saturday off that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

I understand the administration’s point that it disrupts the academic environment. I also think, as someone pointed out below, that it can disrupt attendance and gate receipts. Certainly it disrupts all-day tailgating in the Grove.

It’s a burden on many families to ask them to drive in from several hours away for a late kickoff on a school night.

State has been a Thursday night regular when opportunities are available. I remember covering State at BYU in 2000, flying back in to town at 5:30, then working football Friday night in the office because we were short-staffed at the time. Made for a long day to wake up before 6 in the mountain time zone and be chasing prep football in the central time zone after 11.

You State fans that trot through here, do you like the Thursday games? Is there a recruit you think signed on because of the exposure?

Thoughts?

— PA

BASEBALL: Not a bad night in Memphis

April 30, 2008

Rebels win 10-1 and face Jackson State tonight in the final non-SEC game.

— PA

TENNIS: Rebels a No. 5 national seed

April 29, 2008

The Ole Miss men’s tennis team is a No. 5 national seed and will host Vanderbilt, Indiana and Marist in the regional May 10-11 in Oxford.

— PA

FOOTBALL: Rumor killer

April 29, 2008

I had heard a rumor that the Ole Miss-Wake Forest football game in Winston-Salem, NC was going to be moved to a Thursday night. That does not appear to be the case, however. No inquiries have been made at Ole Miss, athletics director Pete Boone said. Both sides would have to agree before such a move was made. As a general policy the administration doesn’t care for Thursday night football because of the impact it has on academics.

— PA

BASEBALL: Tonight’s pitchers

April 29, 2008

Ole Miss and Memphis play tonight at 6:30 at the Tigers’ Nat Buring Stadium on campus on the south campus. The game is a make-up for the rainout of a previously scheduled game.

Memphis will pitch left-hander Brennon Martin (4-1, 4.76 ERA), while Ole Miss will throw left-hander Brett Bukvich (1-1, 6.16 ERA).

Bukvich, a junior, has gotten a lot of action lately as he’s come back from a freak hand injury early in the season at TCU. He threw one complete inning against Arkansas and had some early success when he stranded an inherited runner with a strikeout to end the fifth, but he could not complete the sixth.

— PA

FOOTBALL: Still shopping for video board

April 28, 2008

No final decision has been reached on the proposed new video board for Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. This comes from Ole Miss Media Relations.

— PA

OXFORD — The bidding process continues for the construction of a new video board at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, as Ole Miss Athletics Director Pete Boone announced Tuesday that bidding will reopen on May 20.

“After reviewing the bids, we have decided to explore several options that are available to us,” Boone said. “We will rebid the project with different specifications.

“There are many video board configurations, and we want to provide our fans with the best available. This should not affect the completion date of the project, which is scheduled prior to our season opener against Memphis on August 30.”

FOOTBALL: Nutt comments from Tupelo

April 28, 2008

Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt was in town today for a golf and social event with the Lee County Ole Miss club. I caught up with him for a few minutes between the 18th hole and dinner. Here’s the interview.

PA: How have you been received in your alumni travels?

HN: This is my seventh alumni club. I’ve been as far as Atlanta, Pascagoula, Jackson, Memphis and now Tupelo. Everywhere I’ve been there’s been a real hunger, kind of like the press conference on the first day. There’s a real starving for success. There’s a real energy there of, “Hey, we’re ready to win.” That’s what I feed off of.

I’ll probably do more of this now since there’s not spring recruiting for me, and I’m not on the road. What I’ll do is really try to cater to our fans a little bit, let them know about our program and tell them what’s going on.

PA: What is your message at these gatherings?

HN: First of all, the program is taking baby steps, because they haven’t had much success. They’re as hungry as you are as far as wanting to win. Make no mistake about that.

There are some things we have to correct. It’s about finishing. It’s about doing everything the right way, from going to school, study hall … We had right around 12 guys that were really behind the 8-ball academically when we first got here. Now we’re back to that theme song … finish. Are you going to finish, or are you going to let go of the rope. I hit those themes, then talk about our players, how things have been very positive, how they’ve helped themselves body-wise and weight-wise. They’ve bought in.

It’s just a cautious optimism, because we’re in the toughest league, and you didn’t win a game last year. We have to change that.

PA: What were the most important things you learned about this team in spring drills?

HN: The biggest thing I liked was their acceptance of change, how they accepted us as coaches. The transition was very very smooth. They never questioned (us).

The thing I didn’t like was when things went bad or you had a bad series after we put pads on there was a little bit of, “Hey, I confess, it’s your fault.” We have to get over that. That’s just a loser’s limp way of saying, “Hey, not me.” Look, it’s about the next play. You have to have a short memory when something goes bad.

PA: What is your greatest challenge in August?

HN: Mindset.

PA: What can you say about Jerrell Powe’s academic progress?

HN: He is doing very well, knock on wood. We’ve got to get through finals, but as we turn the corner and head to finals I’ve been very proud of him. Everything is above a C, and he’s doing well.

PA: Do you believe this is the final hurdle for Powe?

HN: From what I’ve been told, I think this is the final hurdle. I hope so. He deserves it. It would be one thing if he didn’t do the things that have been asked of him by the NCAA and the SEC, but he’s done everything.

— PA

NFL DRAFT: Well, in the Ole Miss discussion …

April 28, 2008

One former Ole Miss player did get drafted. Kareem Moore was a David Cutcliffe signee, who left Oxford prior to the start of Ed Orgeron’s first season.

The following release is from ICC sports information director Will Kollmeyer, formerly of Tupelo station WTVA:

Former Itawamba Community College safety Kareem Moore of Okolona was selected Sunday by the Washington Redskins in the sixth round of this year’s NFL draft. The ‘Skins made the 2007 Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Year at Nicholls State the 14th pick in the round, 180th overall.

Moore (6’1, 210), who played one year at Ole Miss before transferring to ICC, said Washington had contacted him about 20 minutes before the selection.

“The Redskins told me they were interested in drafting me and wanted to make sure I wanted to play for them,” said Moore, who was an all-state selection at Itawamba after intercepting thee passes in ’05, broke up another 10 to go along with his 34 solo tackles, two fumble recoveries and one caused fumble. “I said I would love to play for them. I really want to thank God for this opportunity to be able to play in the National Football League. My parents have always taught me that through God, I knew I could do all things with his strength.”

Even though ICC head coach Jeff Terrill had Moore on his roster for only one season, he knew this guy had a future beyond two years at Nicholls State.

“Kareem was a very focused player while he was here at Itawamba,” said Terrill, who is the head coach of the only program in the MACJC to have made appearances in the last four state playoffs, including 2005 with Moore as one of his starting defensive backs. “Kareem had great ball skills for a safety and had a real instinct for finding the ball and making plays.”

Moore, who will get married in July, said he leaves Thursday for a Redskins mini-camp.

— PA