Thursday, December 13, 2018  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Starkville rated as one of the best college towns
When choosing the college that works for you, the town it's based in is usually a big part. From a big city to a small town finding the right fit is key. And finding that fit just became a lot easier thanks to a survey naming the best college towns in the nation. Wallet Hub released a study on college town and cities. Here's another reason for bulldogs to cheer. Not only did Starkville place 25th out of 415 other college cities, the maroon and white city placed in the top 10 for small college towns. "MSU is a major player in our community -- it matters with the students having a place to be and being a part of our community. Dr. Keenum and I have worked very diligently to try and make sure that the students feel like this is home. That's the reason why we've done the Bulldog Bash downtown to just in a get on a general level and welcome them as best we can at any opportunity," said Mayor Lynn Spruill. The only other SEC college towns to break the top 25 are Texas A&M's College Station and University of Florida's Gainseville.
 
Third-grade teacher inspires MSU-Meridian graduate to teach
This fall's Outstanding Graduate Student in Mississippi State University-Meridian's Division of Education said her third-grade teacher changed her life and she strives to "pay it forward" with the patience and encouragement she wants her students to embrace. Yasmin Ali, 24, of Meridian, who is being recognized for the award during MSU-Meridian's fall commencement ceremony on Thursday, will receive a master's degree in elementary education. Attaining her long-term educational goal makes Ali reminisce about her desire to become an educator. She traces her path back to her experiences in Mrs. LaPlaca's classroom in Brooksville, Florida. Born in New York, Ali moved at 3 with her family from Staten Island to her father's native country of Palestine, where they lived for six years until moving back to the United States. She was fluent in Arabic, but knew little English until a caring teacher helped her learn.
 
Parking and Transit Services plans for graduation day traffic
Mississippi State will hold two commencement ceremonies at Humphrey Coliseum on Friday [Dec. 14]. The first ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m., with the second beginning at 3:30 p.m. Doors open at 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., respectively. Increased traffic volume and decreased parking availability will be experienced throughout the day on the north side of campus. Please plan accordingly as increased travel times are expected. The commencement parking map can be viewed online at www.parkingservices.msstate.edu. For questions, please contact the Parking and Transit Services Office at 662-325-3526.
 
New Book 'Advanced Powerpoint: More Than Presentations!' Brainchild of Three Academics
The new book "Advanced Powerpoint: More Than Presentations!" is the end result of research and exploration conducted by three professors whose careers in education pushed them to discover how to get the optimal output from a seemingly straight-forward program. Published by New York City-based Page Publishing, the educational trio behind this book consists of Dr. Wei-Chieh Yu, an assistant professor in the Department of Instructional Systems and Workforce Development at Mississippi State University; Dr. Anthony A. Olinzock, who has over thirty-five years of teaching experience at the high school and university levels, and has published numerous articles and over twenty textbooks; and Dr. Chun Fu Charlie Lin, who uses his degree in instructional systems, leadership, and workforce development from Mississippi State University as an assistant professor in the Department of Applied Foreign Languages at the National Formosa University, Taiwan.
 
As anchor tenants depart, a Starkville shopping center sees opportunity
Two of Middleton Court's anchor store locations will soon be empty. However, the shopping center's owners and Starkville business leaders and retail recruiters say there's little concern about Middleton Court's long-term success. Tuesday Morning left the shopping center, at the intersection of Highway 12 and Louisville Street, earlier this year and relocated farther west to a larger facility next to Bargain Hunt. Sports Center's owner, Wyatt Craig, announced last week in a Facebook post that his store is closing. Another Middleton Court tenant, Revolution Consignment, has bought a building and will soon be moving, as well, according to Jason Perry, who owns the shopping center through the company Lewko Properties LLC. Still, Perry said, there are already plans in the works to bring new businesses into those spots.
 
Eight apply for open municipal judge seat in Starkville
Eight candidates have submitted applications by Monday's deadline to become Starkville's next municipal judge. The city's board of aldermen will hold a special-call meeting at 3 p.m. Friday, after a work session, to interview candidates. Aldermen are looking to appoint a new municipal judge after Rodney Faver, who now holds the post, was elected to the Chancery District 14, Place 1 judge seat. Starkville's municipal judge salary ranges from $50,000 to $67,500. Aldermen will set the new judge's salary when they make a hire. The municipal judge applicants aldermen will consider are Charles Bruce Brown, Jimmy Brown, Marty Haug, Jeffrey Hosford, Jay Hurdle, Brian Kelley, Caroline Moore and Whit Waide.
 
Columbus turns to consultant for leadership building
Benjamin Wax has spent the last six months trying to build stronger leaders among Columbus city employees. As a leadership consultant with the John Maxwell Team, Wax has primarily worked with department heads trying to help them identify broader, more effective leadership strategies. On Tuesday, Wax held a leadership conference in the Municipal Complex with more than a dozen city employees to review the overarching goals of his program. "Leadership itself is a learned trait," Wax told them. "Everything rises and falls with leadership. Leadership is the skill of influence. Before we can begin to influence others, we have to influence ourselves." The city paid Wax, who also is a professor of kinesiology at Mississippi State University, $3,100 for his services over the last six months. During that time, he met with department heads every other month and has been "on-call" for any city employees' questions. On Tuesday, Wax explained the five levels of leadership, which has been the focus for department heads. Each level, he added, builds off another.
 
Indigo Ag headquarters expands to downtown Memphis, to bring 700 jobs
Indigo is establishing its headquarters for North American commercial operations in Memphis, state and local officials announced Wednesday. The agricultural technology company is investing $6.6 million and will create more than 700 new jobs in Memphis over the next three years. The headquarters will take up 60,000 square feet of space in the Memphis Toyota center building in Downtown next to AutoZone Park. "We chose to establish and grow Indigo's headquarters for North American commercial operations in Memphis because of the proximity to our customers and Indigo Research Partners, the pro-business climate, access to world class talent, and the collaborative relationship between state and city government leaders," Indigo President and CEO David Perry said in a news release. The Boston-based company focuses on sustaining farming and uses plant microbes and digital technologies to advance crop health productivity.
 
Mississippi rings up $1 million in revenue from sports betting
People have wagered $116 million on sporting events at Mississippi casinos, resulting in $1.03 million in tax revenue for the state since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled federal law could not prevent states from allowing sports betting. The first Mississippi casinos began offering sports betting in August. The state collected $54,000 in revenue that month. In November, $188,000 in revenue was collected. Allen Godfrey, executive director of the state Gaming Commission, said there are still a few of the state's 28 casinos not offering sports wagering. Casinos pay a 12 percent tax -- 8 percent to the state and 4 percent to the local government where they are located -- on their winnings from the gambling games they offer, including on earnings from sports bets. Kathy Waterbury, a spokesperson for the Department of Revenue, said individual gamblers also are responsible for paying taxes on their casino winnings.
 
'Conservative outsider' enters race for Mississippi governor
A first-term Republican state lawmaker said Tuesday that he's running for Mississippi governor in 2019 as a "conservative outsider." Rep. Robert Foster of Hernando announced his campaign Tuesday evening at an event in DeSoto County and in a video posted to social media. "I grew up in a small-business family that taught me about hard work and the Christian faith. And these are the values that I'm proud to say we are instilling in our children," Foster, 35, said in the video that showed him, his wife Heather and their two children at their family farm. The farm runs as an agriculture tourism business with berry picking, a corn maze and Christmas tree sales. Foster told The Associated Press on Monday that he feels a "calling" to run for governor but has not started to raise money. Candidates' qualifying deadline is in March. Party primaries are in August, and the general election is in November.
 
Rep. Robert Foster rebuffs pressure, cash from GOP insiders to stay out of governor's race
Before Rep. Robert Foster, R-Hernando, made his gubernatorial candidacy official Tuesday night, members of his own party pressed him to stay out of the race, including an offer of fundraising help to seek a different statewide post. Late last month, an operative with strong ties to the state's Republican establishment called Foster and offered him a large sum of money to drop his rumored bid for governor, according to several people close to Foster's campaign. The caller, they said, promised Foster they would help him raise $1 million if he ran for a statewide office other than governor. Foster declined. Foster confirmed he received pressure from within his own party to drop out of the race for governor, but declined to discuss specifics. "I'm challenging against an expected hierarchy. There's people that have thought for a long time that this seat was theirs, and I feel like the people should have a right to decide that. I just want to give them a choice," Foster told Mississippi Today after announcing his candidacy.
 
Trump shock leaves Republicans anxious over 2019
Republican lawmakers are struggling to coordinate their message with President Trump heading into a divided Congress after he pulled the rug out from them once again by declaring he would be "proud" to shut down the government. Trump shocked Republicans, who were preparing to blame Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) for a potential partial shutdown, when he said he would take sole responsibility for shuttering federal agencies if Congress doesn't meet his demand for $5 billion in wall funding. The televised performance left GOP senators perplexed -- and worried about what's in store for them over the next two years -- as they try to work with Trump and against resurgent House Democrats led by Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who's poised to be the next Speaker. Trump's theatrics left GOP lawmakers dumbfounded, and they pressed Vice President Pence at a Tuesday lunch for an explanation of Trump's off-script swerve.
 
Mitch McConnell hopes support of hemp will help him in 2020
Mitch McConnell acknowledges he'll be one of national Democrats' top targets in 2020 when he runs for reelection. But he'll boast an unusual tool on the campaign trail: His success at reviving hemp, a one-time Kentucky cash crop. "There's no question when you run for office you talk about the differences you think you made," the Kentucky Republican told McClatchy in an interview, minutes after he offered Wednesday on the Senate floor to loan President Donald Trump his "hemp pen" to sign the legalization effort into law. Trump was expected to sign the bill within a week, and McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, joked in the interview that he wasn't sure if Trump would prefer to use a traditional pen. "He's got a big signature, if you've seen it," the senator said. McConnell, who has made legalizing hemp a priority, is certain to make it a plank of his pitch to voters in a year that Democrats are likely to be consumed by trying to oust Trump and McConnell, an important White House ally.
 
Changing the Narrative Around Black Poverty
For a topic heavily critiqued and obsessively discussed, particularly since the 2016 presidential election, the contrast of rural America's suffering and urban America's revitalization is often told in stories that focus on white people. So began a 25-minute panel discussion featuring the experience, thoughtfulness and wit of writer Jesmyn Ward and writer-comedian Baratunde Thurston in conversation with Ginia Bellafante, the Big City Columnist for The New York Times. "Has the narrative of black poverty been lost?" Ms. Bellafante began by asking, and if so, "How do we get it back?" Or, is the best answer to create a new one? Ms. Ward and Mr. Thurston are known for writing about their experiences as black people in America, elevating voices they know and love and that Ms. Ward said she rarely came across as a young and voracious reader in rural DeLisle, Miss. Ms. Ward said the characters that informed her award-winning novels -- like Esch in "Salvage the Bones" (2011) and Jojo in "Sing, Unburied, Sing" (2017) -- often "come to me because they have been lost to history." The narrative of her community hasn't necessarily been erased, but rather ignored, and that's why she is committed to writing about it.
 
Apple plans new $1 billion Austin campus, 5,000 more jobs
Apple Inc. is planning to spend $1 billion to build a new 133-acre corporate campus in North Austin that initially will employ up to 5,000 people, cementing Austin's status as the high-tech company's largest hub outside of its California headquarters. The facility -- which will be less than a mile from Apple's existing main Austin campus on Parmer Lane -- eventually could expand to accommodate up to 15,000 workers, the company said. Apple employs about 6,200 people in Austin now. Counting contractors, its current Austin workforce numbers about 7,000. The new Austin campus will include about 3 million square feet of space in multiple buildings. It is being developed on a 133-acre site, 50 acres of which Apple said will be earmarked for a nature preserve. The company also noted that the campus "will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy."
 
U. of Southern Mississippi Student Printz newspaper marks 100 years
Andrew Wiest, Southern Miss history professor, briefly considered a full-time career as an artist, but only briefly. "When I was in high school, I looked at art, but I saw the salary was zero and up," he said. "That future was not in line for me." But Wiest still satisfied his artistic leanings as a cartoonist for the Southern Miss campus newspaper -- The Student Printz. He worked for the paper during his junior and senior years in 1980-82. "I knew the editor, and she said it would be okay for me to draw for the newspaper," he remembered. "I thought that would be the funnest thing in the world. "I jumped at the chance." Wiest recently reminisced about his time at The Student Printz, as the paper prepared this month to celebrate its 100th anniversary. An exhibit of former newspapers and photography is on display at the Cook Library Art Gallery until Dec. 18.
 
Auburn prof using Hubble telescope to observe comet passing Earth this weekend
One of the closest comets in modern times will pass by Earth this weekend -- but don't worry, there's no danger of it hitting us. It will come relatively close in scientific terms -- 7 million miles away. For the average person, the comet will be visible with the naked eye and will provide a rare sky-watching event. For researchers, the proximity of the Comet 46P/Wirtanen to earth will offer a chance to collect data on comets and learn more about the building blocks of the solar system. Auburn University researcher and astrophysicist Dennis Bodewits will perhaps get the best view of all. He's been awarded time to simultaneously use three of NASA's telescopes during the comet event: the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory. He will be researching what ices make up the comet and how chemical processes change the gas around it.
 
UGA political analyst: Republicans won, but Georgia trending Democratic
Georgia has been decidedly red, meaning Republican, for the first decade and a half of the 21st century. But no more, University of Georgia political analyst Charles Bullock told state legislators this week in Athens. Now it's trending pink or purple, toward Democratic, that is. "Going into 2020, we are going to be one of the major toss-up states," Bullock said, referring to the next presidential election year. In the last few national elections, Georgia has been largely ignored, Bullock said. Candidates assumed Georgia would go Republican, so there was no point in campaigning for the state's electoral votes. That means Georgia's airwaves will be like Florida's before the election: "Just covered up with political ads," he said.
 
U. of Tennessee launches transparency database that includes contracts, salaries
Want to know about a University of Tennessee contract? How about a UT employee's salary? Those items and more will be available online as part of interim President Randy Boyd's push to make it easier to find information about the UT System. The initiative, called "Transparent UT," will provide public access to information in a centralized online location. The website includes many items often requested of the school system. The push is part of Boyd's six priorities he unveiled in November, which he plans to work on during his time as president. As part of his push for a more transparent system, Boyd also plans to webcast and archive all board of trustee committee meetings and faculty senate meetings. He wants to provide online access to board materials at least a week in advance. And he plans to announce finalists in executive searches at one time, including for the next chancellor of the Knoxville campus.
 
U. of Kentucky's $500 million wish list fixes old buildings, constructs new ones
The University of Kentucky is considering a $500 million facilities plan to renovate older buildings and construct new ones to accommodate planned enrollment growth over the next five years. The wish list would provide up to 250,000 square feet of space to accommodate 2,500 to 3,500 new students over the next five years, a surge that UK officials say is necessary to get more graduates into Kentucky's workforce. More students means more need for classrooms, offices, and research space. "I see the University of Kentucky playing its role in leading Kentucky in a rapidly changing 21st century," said President Eli Capilouto. "We have big dreams at the University of Kentucky. That's our responsibility." UK already has legislative approval to issue agency bonds for a $125 million plan to modernize six older campus buildings. That means UK will have to use internal funds and philanthropy to pay those bonds back.
 
Baylor frat president accused of rape banned from graduation, UT-Dallas campus
A former Baylor University fraternity president accused of rape who will serve no jail time has been banned from the University of Texas at Dallas' campus and graduation activities. Jacob Anderson, 24, accepted a deal to plead no contest to a charge of unlawful restraint earlier this week. According to an arrest warrant, Anderson led a 19-year-old woman behind a house in 2016 where he repeatedly sexually assaulted her until she blacked out. Anderson was president of Baylor University's Phi Delta Theta fraternity at the time. After the incident, he was expelled from Baylor and went on to attend University of Texas at Dallas, who now says it was unaware of Anderson's legal history before admitting him. Wednesday evening, UT Dallas President Richard Benson said Anderson is banned from campus as a student or guest in a statement posted to Twitter. He will also not be allowed to participate in commencement activities or be granted admission to UT Dallas graduate school. He will still receive a degree.
 
U. of Florida partners with Telemundo to develop bilingual reporters
As a senior bilingual telecommunications major at the University of Florida last year, Zalome Briceno was preparing to enter a competitive job market. Briceno already had hands-on experience at UF as an anchor, reporter and producer for Noticias WUFT and First at Five. She was active reporting on social media. "I was looking for something that would give me that last push before I entered the workforce," Briceno said. Last fall, Briceno was one of three UF students who took part in Telemundo University, a pilot program that allowed her to interact and gain one-on-one training with bilingual news directors, executive producers, anchors and investigative reporters who worked for Telemundo Stations. Telemundo Station Group Senior Vice President Ozzie Martinez said UF's talent and facilities makes the school attractive. The UF Innovation News Center at Weimer Hall generates content across multiple platforms.
 
Texas A&M: All health students will be trained to administer naloxone to opioid overdose victims
The Texas A&M University Health Science Center has announced that each one of its more than 5,000 students from myriad disciplines will be trained to administer naloxone, a drug that can reverse the lethal effects of opioid overdoses via nasal spray or injection. The move will go into effect in early 2019. Texas A&M experts say the university's health science center is the first in the country to commit to training every student to administer a reversal agent to opioid overdose victims. Each student from the colleges of nursing, pharmacy, dentistry, medicine and public health will be taught to recognize an opioid overdose and to administer naloxone, according to Joy Alonzo, clinical assistant professor at the A&M College of Pharmacy, who is leading the naloxone training effort at the Health Science Center.
 
U. of Missouri adds two to ranks of National Academy of Inventors Fellows
The University of Missouri added two more researchers and scholars to the National Academy of Inventors Fellow's ranks: Elizabeth Loboa and Gary Stacey. Loboa is dean of the MU College of Engineering, and Stacey is a professor of plant sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and a Bond Life Sciences Center primary investigator. They will be inducted in a ceremony held in Houston in April. It was announced in a press release that the two were selected for displaying "highly prolific spirits of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on the quality of life, economic development and welfare of society." Gaining NAI Fellow status is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors.
 
Out of season: Lime to pause scooter operations in Columbia over winter
Lime will pause all scooter operations for the duration of winter, said Norm Sterzenbach, a Lime representative Lime for Missouri. "We're pausing our services in Columbia for the next few weeks to take stock of what worked and how we can partner with the city and university moving forward," Lime's director of government relations, Sam Sadie, told city officials in an email Monday. Scooters won't get as much use during the winter, said Solomon Davis, a University of Missouri student representative on the Chancellor's Standing Committee on Parking and Transportation. "Many of their customers like the students wouldn't be here, so why have them on the streets?" Davis often serves as a student representative of scooter companies like Lime and Bird on MU's campus through his work with the Missouri Student Association.
 
State law likely conflicts with Betsy DeVos's Title IX proposal
Three years ago, Kevin Kruger, head of the country's association for student affairs professionals, wrote to The Washington Post over his concerns with new state laws around campus sexual assaults. At the time, states such as California and New York were responding to the same pressures that led to the Obama administration's efforts to crack down on sexual violence at colleges and universities. The states passed legislation that both cemented the rules from Obama's Education Department into state law and went further, adding new definitions of consent and more. Many of the laws applied to both public and private institutions. This "patchwork" approach to complex sexual assault adjudication, Kruger, president of NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, then wrote in the Post, could create bureaucratic nightmares for institutions. Kruger's warning appears to have proven prescient, though likely in ways he didn't imagine.
 
Does More Federal Aid Raise Tuition Costs? Not For Most Students, Research Says
"I'm here to raise a warning flag with American students and American taxpayers," Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said at a conference about federal student aid in Atlanta in November. "We have a crisis in higher education." The cost of college has risen dramatically in recent decades, she told her audience. "It has something to do with what one of my predecessors famously pointed out decades ago. When the federal government loans more taxpayer money, schools raise their rates." That predecessor, former Secretary of Education William Bennett, spelled out his idea in 1987. "If anything, increases in financial aid in recent years have enabled colleges and universities blithely to raise their tuitions, confident that Federal loan subsidies would help cushion the increase," he wrote in The New York Times. It became the Bennett Hypothesis, and researchers have studied it extensively in recent years. Results and opinions are mixed -- but there's isn't definitive evidence that federal aid is driving up costs across all types of schools.
 
In Talks With Elsevier, UCLA Reaches for a Novel Bargaining Chip: Its Faculty
The University of California at Los Angeles turned to an unusual bit of leverage as its system negotiates with Elsevier, the academic-publishing giant: its own faculty's research. In a letter on Tuesday, campus officials asked faculty members to consider declining to review articles for Elsevier journals until negotiations "are clearly moving in a productive direction." The letter also asked professors to consider publishing research elsewhere, including in prestigious open-access journals. The university system has said it wants to reach an agreement that would be less expensive and simplify open-access publishing. But time for negotiations is running out: The contract expires on December 31. "The only thing that the publishers have is the content authors give to them," said Jeffrey K. MacKie-Mason, university librarian at the University of California at Berkeley and a professor of economics and information, who is helping to lead the negotiations. "What they're selling is access to research. If they don't have the research, they have nothing to sell."
 
Arkansas State Underscores Journalism With New School
Arkansas State University is putting the "J" back in journalism. The university has announced a board of trustees-approved resolution to create the School of Media & Journalism as an area of excellence within the College of Liberal Arts & Communication. Journalism -- broadcast, print and related fields -- has previously been taught under the ASU Department of Media. The ASU Department of Communication taught sales, social media management, crisis and organizational communication and corporate training. Both departments have existed since the of College of Liberal Arts & Communications was formed in 2015 and Carl Cates was named Dean. A search will be conducted for a director for the School of Media & Journalism. The number of ASU students who majored in print journalism was in decline before 2015. But, according to school figures, fall enrollment in the now-renamed School of Media & Journalism was up by 53 students, a 19 percent increase to a total enrollment of 328, since 2015.
 
Jerry Mitchell starting Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting
Longtime Mississippi journalist Jerry Mitchell writes: ProPublica has picked 14 newsrooms and investigative projects to fund in 2019. One of them is mine. Although I can't talk about the subject of the project at this point, I can share this: The project will be part of a new nonprofit that I have helped start, the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting. My co-founder is Ian Isaacs, who helped raise millions for the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California at Berkeley. Despite criticism, we believe that journalism remains one of the world's most noble professions. ... While I am leaving the Clarion Ledger, I am not saying goodbye to the newspaper, where I have worked since 1986. The Clarion Ledger will be one of the many news organizations that the center will work with across Mississippi.


SPORTS
 
Q&A: Mississippi State's John Cohen (Part Two)
Mississippi State has announced a big facility upgrade is coming with the announcement earlier this year that there are plans to renovate Humphrey Coliseum. Starkville Daily News MSU beat reporter Joel Coleman sat down with MSU director of athletics John Cohen earlier this week to discuss the renovation of the home of the basketball teams, as well as get other thoughts on the state of MSU hoops, such as the recent low attendance at men's games. This is the second part of a three-part series revolving around the conversation between Starkville Daily News Mississippi State beat writer Joel Coleman and Mississippi State Athletic Director John Cohen. The series continues later this week.
 
Despite offensive success, Vic Schaefer wants more from No. 5 Mississippi State
Vic Schaefer looked perplexed. The Mississippi State women's basketball coach usually chooses his words carefully and gives thought to everything he says in media availabilities, which is why he typically has a thoughtful answer prepared for just about every question. On Wednesday, though, Schaefer needed a few extra seconds to give his assessment of his team's progress through the first nine games. "I don't know if confounded is the word, but I am still trying to figure it out," Schaefer said. "We average 93 points a game, I think, and I don't think we're that good offensively. We've shown flashes of being good defensively like against Texas and Virginia and then against Marquette, for whatever reason, we weren't very good." You wouldn't think MSU (9-0) would have many concerns after moving up one spot to No. 5 in The Associated Press Top 25. But Schaefer judges himself and his program by a different standard.
 
Vic Schaefer is ready for Mississippi State women's basketball's road trip
Mississippi State's game against Marquette last Thursday marked one of only two home games for the No. 5 Bulldogs in December. Head coach Vic Schaefer likes it that way. State is set to embark on a three-game road trip starting with Friday night's game against Southern Miss in Hattiesburg, and Schaefer said it couldn't have come at a better time. The semester at State finishes this week. Rather than playing a few home games before a 10-day span between games later this month, the Bulldogs trek to the Pacific Northwest for games against Oregon on Dec. 18 and Washington on the 20th. "The thing about finishing on the road in pre-conference is we can send the kids home straight from the game and get them home quicker," Schaefer said. "(That's better than) playing here at home on whatever night, seven o'clock -- I'm not going to let them leave." Schaefer said instead of senior point guard Jazzmun Holmes having to drive four hours to Gulfport or senior center Teaira McCowan having to drive 10 hours to Texas, he can send them to their respective destinations directly from Washington.
 
Chauncey Rivers plays big role for Bulldogs' kick return unit
Chauncey Rivers made a name for himself at Georgia and East Mississippi Community College as a defensive end. But Rivers has made just as big of an impact on the kick return unit as a member of the No. 18 Mississippi State football team. While Rivers has six-and-a-half tackles for a loss, two sacks, and four quarterback hurries at defensive end, he serves as the last blocker in front of the eventual return man on the Bulldogs' kick returns. His work has positioned MSU (8-4) just outside of the top 50 nationally in average kickoff return as it continues preparations for its game against Iowa (8-4) in the Outback Bowl at 11 a.m. Jan. 1, 2019 (ESPN2). "(Special teams coordinator Joey) Jones trusts me back there, knows I can play my role, block whoever I need to block," Rivers said. "It's fun because sometimes we go offense first and we're the first people on the field, kick return. Atmosphere's going crazy, we go out there and try to knock somebody out. I'll do anything for the team."
 
UC basketball faces talented group of Bulldogs at Mississippi State
Despite a 9-1 record, the University of Cincinnati men's basketball team has not yet reached the top 25 this season. The USA Today/coaches poll has them four back at No. 29, with the Associated Press listing them at No. 27. A victory Saturday night should change that as UC faces a hot-shooting Mississippi State team on the road. The Bulldogs (No. 17 USA Today/No. 18 AP) are 8-1 and shot a blistering 19-of-30 from the three-point line in their win over Clemson 82-71. The Bulldogs feature five starters averaging in double figures. Their one loss was against Arizona State in Las Vegas on Nov. 19. Nearby, they defeated the Dayton Flyers 65-58 on Nov. 30 at UD Arena. "Their stats from the last five games are making me rethink the game schedule," Cronin said. "It's unbelievable. Their whole team is shooting 43 percent (of three-points shots) in their last five (games). We haven't seen that since Notre Dame in the Big East."
 
NFL honors Mississippi-made Darius Slay and Denico Autry
We told you on Tuesday that Mississippi-made players like Detroit cornerback Darius Slay and Indianapolis defensive tackle Denico Autry had big games over the weekend. The NFL agrees. Slay and Autry, both former Mississippi State standouts, were named Defensive Player of the Week for their respective conferences on Wednesday. Slay, who also played at ICC, had a pick-6 for Detroit against Arizona and also defended three passes. Since entering the NFL in 2013, no player has defended more passes (86) than Slay. Autry, a big off-season pickup for the Colts, had two sacks against Houston and has five over his past two games despite a sore back. Before MSU, he played at East Mississippi.
 
FCS Head Coaches Who Land FBS Jobs Face New Problems at College Football's Highest Level
A day before preseason camp began at Alcorn State in 2012, Jay Hopson's primary concern was, of all things, killing wild hogs. A pack of boars turned his neatly manicured field into a mess ahead of his first practice as coach of the small school in the Mississippi Delta. "It looked like an 18-wheeler did 19 donuts in the middle of my field," Hopson recalls. The hogs returned the next night, chewed up more turf in their pursuit of grubs and prompted the coach to reach out to the Mississippi Highway Patrol. A week later, Hopson got a late-night phone call from a state trooper informing him that the half-dozen hogs, including one that measured four feet at the shoulder, were shot dead. With one problem dealt with, Hopson turned his attention to the next varmint impacting his life. "Every day at lunch," recalls Hopson, now the head coach at Southern Miss, "my GA and I would come out at noon and plug up armadillo holes to make sure our guys wouldn't tear their ankle up. Crazy things like that, those are things at the FBS level you certainly never deal with."
 
Greg Sankey releases statement on SEC title game amidst CFP expansion talk
As talk of expanding the College Football Playoff on Wednesday, Greg Sankey made the SEC's stance on this very clear. The SEC Championship isn't going anywhere, the league's commissioner said. Some of the talk for an eight-team playoff has centered around the fate of conference championship games. Sankey, who released a statement, isn't having any of it. "The SEC Championship Game is important to this conference and our fans. I think the fact this year's game was the most-watched and highest-rated regular season football game on any television network in seven years tells you the SEC Championship Game is important to fans of college football well beyond our conference. All conference championship games are important and relevant, which is why every FBS conference has followed the SEC's lead and created championship games of their own."
 
U. of Florida baseball stadium breaking ground in February
The University of Florida Athletic Department announced an updated timeline and budget Wednesday for UF's new baseball park, in addition to detailing Phase III of the planned facilities upgrades. The Gators baseball stadium, initially estimated to cost $50 million, will have a $65 million budget and will break ground in February, the university announced. Florida announced a planned completion date of June 2020, with the 2021 season marking UF's debut in the ballpark, located on the southwest part of campus adjacent to Donald R. Dizney Stadium. UF initially intended to break ground in Fall 2018, with the ballpark opening in time for the 2020 season. "This is an exciting day for Gators baseball and our entire athletic department," UF athletics director Scott Stricklin said in a statement. The baseball park, in addition to ongoing $15 million renovation to softball's Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium and renovations to the Gators' track and tennis facilities, makes up Phase II of the UAA's Facilities Master Plan.
 
Groundbreaking set for Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex stadium
The groundbreaking ceremony for the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex multi-use stadium is slated for Thursday afternoon at the corner of 11th Avenue and 23rd Street North. Thursday's event, though, is largely symbolic as construction on the $174 million open-air stadium won't start until the spring or early summer of 2019. Site preparations, which include relocation of utilities and right-of-way vacation, are currently underway. The 55,000-seat stadium -- along with an updated Legacy Arena -- will serve as the new anchor for the BJCC campus and is expected to attract new sporting events and conferences. The University of Alabama at Birmingham will also use the new stadium for home football games. The new stadium is expected to be complete in mid-2021 just in time for The World Games 2021 and the UAB football season. Populous, a Kansas City, Mo., design and architecture firm, developed conceptual plans for the stadium.



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