Friday, January 10, 2020   
Rotting feral pig carcasses teach scientists what happens when tons of animals die all at once, as in Australia's bushfires
Brandon Barton, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Mississippi State University, and graduate student Abby Jones, write for The Conversation: The unprecedented wildfire raging across Australia is not only destroying human lives, but has killed hundreds of millions of animals -- perhaps billions before it is all over. Burning is not the only cause of death in this catastrophe. Many animals have outrun the flames only to die in fences and roads by the thousands. Others may live, for now, but, without their homes, food and water, are likely to succumb to the elements soon. Unfortunately, animal die-offs of massive proportions are becoming more frequent. Global change -- which includes human-caused changes in climate, land use, fire regimes and other things -- may largely be to blame for the increased frequency and intensity of mass mortality events across all kinds of animals. So, what happens when everything dies all at once?
Antler genesis cycle depends on key nutrition
Wildlife managers looking to maximize their deer herd's antler production will reach their best results by maximizing the nutrition available to the entire herd, according to whitetail biologists at Mississippi State University's Deer Lab. Biologists at MSU have been studying whitetail deer both in the wild and in controlled environments since the 1970s, solving problems facing natural resource agencies, managers and private landowners. Along the way, their research has gleaned information valuable to hunters of every stripe. "Young bucks emphasize growing larger bodies because, regardless of antler size, they need larger bodies to fight other bucks," Dr. Steve Demarais, with MSU, says. "Young bucks grow antlers, but antler growth really takes off in their third, fourth and fifth years because they've reached their mature body size and, physiologically, can invest in growing bigger antlers to enhance their fighting capabilities."
Mississippi Coding Academies producing graduates whose talents are in big demand
Far too many Americans end up with staggering amounts of college debt for a degree that might not allow them to find a good job. One in four Americans has student loan debt owing an average of $37,172. An alternative path is the Mississippi Coding Academies, a 501(c)(3) non-profit founded in 2017 that provides a free 11-month program that helps graduates land jobs with starting salaries averaging $37,200 per year. MCA is supported with funding from the State of Mississippi, Mississippi State University, Comcast, Kellogg Foundation, the Appalachian Region Commission, Ergon and other donors. It isn't just software companies that need coders. "Technology is everywhere," said Dr. Sarah Lee, who leads the MCA program in Starkville. "Small businesses to large corporations are hiring computing talent for roles that may include technical support, software testing, software development and system administration."
Mississippi State University Taking Applications for Student Veterinary Camp
Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine will begin accepting applications for its 10th annual veterinary camp on Tuesday, Jan. 28. The camp is based on freshman and sophomore MSU veterinary courses and allows students ages 10 to 17 to study veterinary medicine under MSU faculty and doctorate students. Students in the camp will participate in interactive labs and hands-on activities relating to small and large animal care, public health, animal pathology, research and pet health. Applications are available online. The submission deadline is noon on Friday, Feb. 28. For more information, call 662-325-4401 or visit
Severe Outbreak With Widespread Damaging Thunderstorm Winds, Tornadoes, Begins Today in the South
An outbreak of severe thunderstorms, including widespread damaging winds and tornadoes, will begin today in the Southern Plains, and spread through the Deep South into tonight into Saturday. A strong disturbance in a sharp southward-plunging jet stream will pivot through the South beginning Friday. Southerly winds ahead of an advancing frontal system is tapping warm and very humid air by January standards from the Gulf of Mexico and will pull it into much of the South and Ohio Valley. By tonight, the activity should form a long line of severe thunderstorms known as a squall line and sweep through eastern Oklahoma, eastern Texas into southern Missouri, Arkansas, western and northern Louisiana and possibly into far western Tennessee and western Mississippi. Intense winds a few thousand feet above the ground will give rise to a significant threat of widespread damaging thunderstorm winds, with this squall line. Brief tornadoes may also be embedded within the squall line.
Mississippi River expected to creep above flood stage
Heavy rain in the northern Mississippi Valley and the Ohio Valley could contribute to the Mississippi River at Vicksburg rising above flood stage later this month, a National Weather Service Hydrologist said. "Right now, there is potential," said Marty Pope, hydrologist with the National Weather Service Jackson office. "Everything will depend on what (rainfall) we get." Presently, he said, the National Weather Service's 16-day forecast has the Ohio River at Cairo, Ill., forecast to reach almost 51 feet by Jan. 18, "Which would put Vicksburg somewhere crossing flood stage sometime toward the end of the month." Thursday morning, the Mississippi at Vicksburg was at 37.7 feet. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District is expected to close the Steele Bayou Control Structure gates Friday, citing a National Weather Service forecast indicating the Mississippi River was expected to reach 41 feet Friday and go past flood stage near the end of the month.
Pearl River is high, but it's not expected to cause flooding
Water levels in the Pearl River rose very quickly in the last week, but they should level off for the time being. Reservoir officials are also releasing water off the spillway in efforts to keep the lake levels low. They were trying to bring the lake down to 295 feet to expose any Giant Salvinia they are trying to eradicate. Currently, they have not been able to spray any herbicides because the lake has been too high. Right now Reservoir officials don't believe the rain this weekend will cause any flooding on the river. They hope to control the water as it flows into the lake and release it down stream without causing problems for residents in Jackson. Reservoir officials are trying to keep the Pearl River in Jackson below 33 feet, which is the threshold of when it gets into businesses in some parts of the city.
Billy Martinson remembered as horticultural legend
William Kelly "Billy" Martinson, a legend in horticulture since opening Green Oak Nursery in Jackson in 1960 and GardenWorks in Ridgeland a decade later, died Jan 2. He was 85. A service was held Monday at St. Francis of Assisi. His wife of 61 years is former state Rep. Rita Martinson. He was a pioneer in surviving the onslaught of big box retailers with expert personal service and attention. Martinson was a son of Jackson growing up on Greymont Avenue in the iconic Belhaven neighborhood. He came back to the capital city upon finishing at Mississippi State University and his two years of service in the Chemical Corps, stationed at Ft. McClellan, Ala.
US adds 145,000 jobs; unemployment holds at 3.5 percent
U.S. employers downshifted their hiring in December, adding 145,000 jobs as consumer spending appeared to aid gains in the retail and hospitality sectors. The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate held at 3.5% for the second straight month, prolonging a half-century low. Hiring slipped after robust gains of 256,000 in November caused in part by the end of a strike at General Motors. Still, the job growth has failed so far to put upward pressure on hourly pay. The pace of annual average wage growth slowed in December to 2.9% from 3.1% in the prior month, a possible sign that there is still room for additional job gains despite the decade-plus expansion. The steady hiring growth during the expansion has contributed to gains in consumer spending. Retail sales during the crucial holiday shopping improved 3.4% compared to the prior year, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse.
Local, state economic leaders gather for Mississippi Economic Council's Capital Day
Local and state economic leaders gathered in Jackson for Mississippi Economic Council Capital Day. The day allows business owners and economic leaders, from all across the state, to come together and hear from state leaders about what the year ahead holds. Mississippi Economic Council President and CEO Scott Waller said MEC Capital Day is a beneficial experience for all involved. "It's really designed to give members across the state the opportunity to come to the capital city, hear from state leaders, meet with legislatures. It's a kick-off to the legislative session where we talk about some issues that are important to us," said Waller. Waller said workforce development is one of the issues at the forefront of all economic leaders.
Vicksburg native Delbert Hosemann sworn in as state's next lieutenant governor
Mississippi's new lieutenant governor, Delbert Hosemann, said immediately after his inauguration Thursday that he wants to work with all lawmakers to improve education, enact pay raises for state employees and address problems in the state's prison system that has been rocked by deadly violence. "We're all in this together," Hosemann told lawmakers and other officials in a crowded House chamber at the state Capitol. Hosemann, who previously served three terms as secretary of state, said the rotunda at the center of the Capitol does not need to divide the House and Senate. "It's not going to be a chasm as long as I'm blessed to be the lieutenant governor," Hosemann said. The Vicksburg native said despite his years in office, he is still in awe of the opportunity to serve and to do so as the state's lieutenant governor.
Tate Reeves inauguration: Here's the full schedule of events
Events marking the formal transition of power in Mississippi from Gov. Phil Bryant to Gov.-elect Tate Reeves on Tuesday include a swearing-in ceremony, downtown Jackson parade, Governor's Mansion open house and evening ball at the Mississippi Trade Mart. Reeves, 45, the current Republican lieutenant governor, on Tuesday will become the Magnolia State's 65th governor. He beat Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood with 52% of the vote in November. Bryant, 65, also a Republican, is ending his second term as governor, the maximum allowed. "Elee and I are blessed to join our fellow Mississippians for a big, fun-filled day to celebrate this moment in history," Reeves said in a statement. Weather could play a role in the festivities: National Weather Service forecasters say there's a 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms Tuesday, with an expected high of 71 degrees. If there is bad weather, officials say the inauguration ceremony will move inside the Capitol.
Lawmaker Who Called for Lynching of Confederate Statue Foes Elevated
Mississippi House Rep. Karl Oliver, a funeral director from Winona, will take on a new role as vice chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. The Republican lawmaker's promotion comes despite a Facebook comment he made in 2017 in which he wrote that state leaders in Louisiana deserved to be "LYNCHED" after New Orleans city leaders removed a number of Confederate monuments from public display. Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn, a Republican from Clinton, announced Oliver's new committee leadership appointment on Wednesday. The house speaker condemned Oliver's remarks in 2017, saying they "do not reflect the views of the Republican Party, the leadership of the House of Representatives, or the House as a whole." Gunn also announced that House Rep. John Read, a Gautier Republican, will keep his position as chairman of the House Appropriations committee -- the top position. Amidst an avalanche of backlash, Oliver said in 2017 that he wished "to extend (an) apology for any embarrassment (he had) caused to both my colleagues and fellow Mississippians."
The state inked a deal to house Parchman inmates in a private prison. Is it legal?
Two House lawmakers want more details about the legality of an agreement to temporarily house Parchman inmates at a privately owned and operated prison in the Delta. Late Wednesday afternoon, several people briefed on the contract between the Department of Corrections and Nashville-based CoreCivic, which owns and operates the prison, shared its details with Mississippi Today. A budget document submitted to the Legislature on Thursday and obtained by Mississippi Today confirmed the Department of Corrections is paying CoreCivic $65 per day per inmate for housing at the private prison. Under the 90-day contract, the Department of Corrections will pay $2.1 million to CoreCivic if the planned 364 inmates are transferred. State law allows for no more than 1,000 state inmates to be housed at the Tallahatchie Correctional Facility but mandates that "the inmate cost per day is at least 10 percent less than the inmate cost per day for housing a state inmate at a state correctional facility," the law reads.
How Mississippi's 'supercharged temp agencies' provide inmate labor to employers
In the thick of deer season, B.B. Gilmer churns through thousands of pounds of venison, transforming the meat into tenderloin and steak cuts, ground hamburger and sausage, even Delta-style tamales. For almost three decades, Mississippi hunters have taken their wild game to BB's Meat Processing, where taxidermy trophies loom over the cramped lobby and deer hang by their hindquarters in backroom coolers. Gilmer and his wife field so many orders in the winter that they sleep in a bedroom attached to the shop instead of going home at night. They also hire help. In the mornings, Gilmer drives to an old prison that now houses the Greenwood Restitution Center for people paying off court-ordered debts. There, he picks up one or two men -- who must work for the Gilmers, or anyone else willing to hire them, to earn enough money to go home. Last season, the Gilmers hired Travis Tanksley, a lanky guy in his mid-20s who was sent to the restitution center by a judge to earn $3,500 he owed from a conviction for passing bad checks. Tanksley and the hundreds of people confined in the state's four restitution centers every year have to earn their way out.
South Mississippi rep gets multiple GOP primary challengers
Republican U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi will face at least three challengers in the party primary as he seeks reelection this year. Friday is the deadline for candidates to file qualifying papers to run for one U.S. Senate seat and four U.S. House seats in Mississippi. Party primaries are March 10. Palazzo filed qualifying papers Wednesday in south Mississippi's 4th Congressional District. The Mississippi Republican Party said late Thursday that three other candidates filed this week in the 4th District. They are Carl Boyanton, Robert Deming and Samuel Hickman. Palazzo was a state House member when he unseated Democratic U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor in 2010. Palazzo, 49, is a military veteran and often praises President Donald Trump.
Senators support confirmation of Trump's nominee for District Judge
On Wednesday, U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) offered strong recommendations for Mississippi Court of Appeals Judge Cory T. Wilson to be a U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of Mississippi. Wicker and Hyde-Smith introduced Wilson at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to consider judicial nominees. President Trump nominated Wilson last year. "Judge Wilson's credentials, intelligence, and respect for the rule of law are without question," Wicker said. "I am confident given his academic and professional achievements that Judge Wilson would serve the southern district and our union well as U.S. district judge." The full Senate can vote to confirm Wilson only after the Judiciary Committee approves the nomination. If confirmed, Wilson would assume the seat vacated by District Court Judge Louis Guirola, Jr., who took senior status.
Businesses hit by mistaken tax penalty seek help from Congress
A one-word drafting error in the 2017 tax code overhaul has sent companies ranging from specialty retailer PetSmart Inc. to Nissan Motor Co. scrambling to Capitol Hill for relief. As part of the effort to offset a dramatic reduction in the corporate tax rate in the 2017 law, Republicans limited the ability of firms to claim tax breaks on net operating losses, or when deductions exceed income. As a result of the law's wording mistake, companies whose tax year ended just after the end of calendar 2017 would be hit by the new net operating loss restrictions, meaning companies are penalized for actions taken before the law passed. The lead sponsors of the two net operating loss bills are Arizona Republicans David Schweikert in the House and Martha McSally in the Senate. It's not just retailers who are affected. Nissan, the big Yokohama, Japan-based car manufacturer, is pushing for a fix. Nissan's U.S. headquarters are in Franklin, Tennessee, and the company has manufacturing facilities elsewhere in Tennessee as well as Mississippi. Tennessee GOP Sens. Lamar Alexander, who is retiring after this Congress, and Marsha Blackburn, as well as Mississippi Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith are co-sponsors of McSally's bill.
Ole Miss law school honored for diversity
With a total enrollment of 412 and one third of those students of color, the University of Mississippi School of Law is dedicated to becoming more diversified and is pleased with a recent honor confirming that policy. It has been named a Best Regional Law School for Black Students in the third edition of the Black Student's Guide to Law Schools & Firms, published by Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Lawyers of Color. "I believe this is the first time the University of Mississippi School of Law has earned this designation from Lawyers of Color, and we are honored," Dean Susan Duncan said. "In everything we do, we strive to promote diversity and inclusion. UM Law is dedicated to providing an educational environment that is more representative of the world in which we live."
Friends of Children's Hospital receives $1.3 million donation
Century Club Charities announced a $1.3 million donation to Friends of Children's Hospital from the 2019 Sanderson Farms Championship. The tournament host presented a check to Friends, the fundraising organization dedicated to supporting the University of Mississippi Medical Center's pediatric health care mission, including the state's only children's hospital. The donation to Friends of Children's Hospital will go toward bringing a seven-story children's hospital expansion to completion. In 2016, Friends made a $20 million pledge to the Campaign for Children's of Mississippi, the philanthropic effort to raise $100 million to fund the project, which will more than double the square footage devoted to pediatrics at UMMC. The new pediatric tower will be home to 88 private neonatal intensive care rooms, 12 additional operating rooms, 32 pediatric intensive care rooms, an imaging center designed for children, a specialty clinic and a new lobby. The Children's Heart Center, representing the Medical Center's pediatric cardiovascular program, will also call the new building home.
Auburn students plan to roll Toomer's with colored toilet paper to promote inclusivity
Rolling Toomer's Corner after a gameday win is an iconic aspect of the Auburn experience. Some students, aiming to make a more inclusive environment for all students, feel it is time to expand the TP gamut. Roll Toomer's Rainbow is an event jointly sponsored by Spectrum and the Auburn Justice Coalition, a community organization that formed last year after the Southern Poverty Law Center's student organization shut down. Students will have the opportunity to throw toilet paper across the color spectrum after an Auburn basketball win next month. Lucas Copeland, senior in psychology, serves as the programs director for Spectrum and the LGBT+ Equity project manager for the Auburn Justice Coalition. In an email to The Plainsman, Copeland said the all-white toilet paper draping off trees on Toomer's Corner could be seen as a representation of the current state of Auburn's culture and classrooms, where "students of color, LGBTQ students and religious minorities experience isolation and marginalization."
Auburn to launch 'Application Week' offer, waiving admission fee for in-state residents
Auburn University will waive its new student admission application fee for in-state residents next week. As part of a new Auburn Application Week offer, Alabama residents can visit Jan. 13-17 and use the code Tigers2020 to activate the fee waiver and apply for admission. The offer, which runs through 4:45 p.m. on Jan. 17. -- follows up on the statewide College Application Week that took place in November. "Our no-fee application week is another example of Auburn expanding opportunities for students and their families," said Joffery Gaymon, Auburn's vice president for enrollment. Of 15,405 early applications, 10,717 were offered admission during early action, just before and during the Thanksgiving break. The early action cohort was determined through a comprehensive review process, with an average ACT score of 28.36 and an average grade-point average of 4.01. It reflected a 19 percent jump in early, in-state application.
Louisiana regents postpone vote on college admissions criteria
Louisiana's top board overseeing higher education postponed Thursday consideration of new minimum admissions standards for the state's 13 public four-year universities. Some members of the Board of Regents said they had too many questions and asked to postpone the scheduled vote for another 30 days. "I was surprised that they still had so many questions," said LSU Board of Supervisors Chair Mary Werner after the Board of Regents adjourned. She was "prepared to accept" the proposals that were drafted in large part as a reaction to LSU's unilateral adoption of "holistic" standards that minimized the importance of standardized tests, relying more on essays and recommendations in choosing who could come to the state's flagship. The new proposals included penalties for institutions that didn't adhere to the Regent's admissions criteria.
What's all the buzz about? U. of Florida introduces new beekeeping class
A new online beekeeping class being offered this spring is the bee's knees for students with a sweet spot for an unusual hobby. Beekeeping II, under the course codes ENY4932 for undergraduates and ENY6934 for graduates, offers more foundational knowledge to beekeeping than its predecessors, Beekeeping I and Practical Beekeeping, said Cameron Jack, entomology and nematology lecturer. "Beekeeping brings people together from all different backgrounds and all walks of life," Jack said. "It's not really for people just interested in agriculture." Students interested in agricultural fields at land grant universities like UF typically take classes, get internships and then enter the industry, Jack said. "Really, nothing exists like that for beekeeping anywhere in the United States, so we're kind of trying something new," he said.
U. of South Carolina and neighborhood pressure has turned back massive student housing project
Opposition by the University of South Carolina, Historic Columbia and the University Hill Neighborhood Association convinced a city board on Thursday to turn back a massive student housing project at the corner of Gervais and Pickens streets. The eight-story building proposed by Indiana-based developer Trinitas Ventures would have 276 apartments and 540 beds. Student housing developments charge by the bed rather than the unit. USC, Historic Columbia and neighbors argued the tower would overshadow the adjoining neighborhood and nearby historic buildings. Also, neighborhood leaders said they feared that the 540 students would cut through University Hill on the weekends to get to Five Points and back, causing mischief. A university spokesman said USC opposes the project because of an agreement with University Hill to discourage more student housing near the neighborhood.
College fires professor for joking on Facebook that Iran should make a list of U.S. targets to bomb
A Babson College professor has been fired for a Facebook post that jokingly suggested that Iran's supreme leader should make a list of American cultural sites worthy of bombing. The private Massachusetts college announced the termination of adjunct professor Asheen Phansey on Thursday, drawing criticism from free speech advocates who said the personal social media post was not serious. The post came after President Donald Trump tweeted that he would include cultural sites in the list of 52 targets he would strike if Iran took action against the U.S. after killing its top general last week. Trump walked back on the remarks Tuesday after facing accusations of threatening war crimes. In a statement, Babson College said it condemns threatening words allowing violence and hate to continue.
Florida joins U.S. government in probing foreign ties of researchers
Florida lawmakers have begun an investigation into the foreign ties of researchers at the state's universities and research institutions. The inquiry, the first of its kind at the state level, dovetails with an ongoing federal probe into whether such affiliations, notably with Chinese entities, pose a risk to the U.S. research enterprise. The Florida effort is triggered by revelations last month that six scientists at the Moffitt Cancer Center had been dismissed for failing to disclose their participation in China's Thousand Talents Program. The researchers include the center's CEO, Alan List, and the head of its research center, Thomas Sellers. The Moffitt case is the latest instance of scientists being ousted from U.S. biomedical research institutions after being accused of failing to disclose foreign research ties or undermining the integrity of the process by which the National Institutes of Health funds research.
Recent court decisions could expand bankruptcy for student debt
A decision this week by a federal judge in New York illustrates how some courts have in the past few years made it easier for people with crippling student loan debt to file for bankruptcy, say consumer advocates and legal experts. But while advocates like John Rao, a National Consumer Law Center bankruptcy expert, see the trend as positive, they still believe federal laws need to be changed to make it easier to discharge student loans through bankruptcy. The issue has risen in prominence as the number of Americans with student debt has grown to an estimated 45 million, with many unable to repay their loans. Advocates as well as some lawmakers, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat who is seeking her party's presidential nomination, have said changes in federal law and legal interpretations by the courts have made it notoriously difficult to get student loans discharged through bankruptcy.
Georgia Tech combustion lab evacuated after 'low level' gas leak
A Georgia Tech combustion lab was evacuated Friday morning after fire crews detected low levels of gas in the building. The incident at the Aerospace Engineering Combustion Lab on Strong Street comes a day after another reported leak evacuated a dormitory on campus. Gas to the research building was shut off and the lab was being ventilated, according to Atlanta fire spokesman Sgt. Cortez Stafford. No one has been reported injured. Fire crews left the scene before 9 a.m. "The levels of gas in the building dropped, so now Atlanta Gas Light and Georgia Tech officials are investigating the source of the leak," Tech spokesman Joshua Stewart told "It's isolated just to this one lab." No gas leak was found at the dorm Thursday, according to Stewart. A resident of Hopkins Residence Hall reported smelling gas just before noon, and the four-story building was evacuated as a precaution.
What College Esports Arenas Mean for Community in the Digital Age
You can play video games by yourself. You can play them with friends virtually, communicating via headset. You can even watch strangers play them live online through streaming services, at any time of day or night. And yet, colleges across the country are transforming library rooms and dorm halls into esports arenas designed to gather gamers to play and watch together, in person. Why? Like the major league sports franchises buying and building esports teams, colleges are undoubtedly interested in the big money that's flowing through the video game industry. That profit motive helps explain why several institutions of higher education have invested in large new facilities equipped with state-of-the-art gaming equipment, such as the $6 million arena, named the Fortress, that Full Sail University in Florida opened last year.

What Mike Leach told Mississippi State players in first team visit
Mike Leach hasn't wasted any time in his new endeavor. On Thursday morning, Leach was still the head coach of the Washington State Cougars. Today, he's the man in charge of the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Leach landed in Starkville on Thursday afternoon and was greeted by a large group of fans at the airport. After spending half an hour with them, he jumped in a black SUV and was escorted by a state trooper to the football facility to meet with his new team for the first time. Leach gave a speech outlining why he was standing before them and what he wants from them going forward. He explained to the MSU players that he loved Washington State, the program he guided for the previous eight seasons, because of the city, the people and the young men he got to work with there. He said he turned down many other opportunities over the years to stay in Pullman. Then Leach said the Mississippi State offer was one that he simply couldn't reject. He cited the quality of athletes in the Magnolia State and the belief that those athletes can produce a winning program.
Mike Leach hired as head coach at Mississippi State
The pirate is heading to Starkvegas. Mississippi State hired Washington State's Mike Leach as its new head coach Thursday, bringing one of the nation's quirkiest and most successful coaches from the Pac-12 to the Southeastern Conference. Leach will replace Joe Moorhead, fired last week after two seasons. Mississippi State announced it hired Leach with a social media hype video that included its new coach bellyflopping into a pool. College football in the state of Mississippi has gotten a lot more interesting over the last month, with Leach joining new Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin. "Welcome to the state old pirate and friend!!" Kiffin tweeted. The post-bowl game firing by Mississippi State was unusual, but the Bulldogs now have a coach with a long track record of winning at programs that have historically struggled. Washington State President Kirk Schulz and athletic director Pat Chun thanked Leach for his time at the school. "Mike has transformed Washington State football into a national brand and we will be forever grateful," they said in a statement.
Mike Leach leaves Washington State for Mississippi State
Washington State coach Mike Leach is the new head coach at Mississippi State, Bulldogs athletic director John Cohen said Thursday. Leach is receiving a contract that will pay him $5 million annually and includes a substantial commitment to the salary pool for assistants and support staff, a source told ESPN. State law limits the contract length to four years. "I can't tell you how excited I am to be the head football coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs," Leach said in a statement. "I loved Washington State, but I am excited for the next chapter in the SEC. It's a privilege to be a part of the MSU family, and we look forward to getting down to Starkville shortly." His style is anything but typical. Leach gets a lot of attention for his news conferences, where he has been known to dole out wedding advice, once pondered which Pac-12 mascots would survive a fight and told tales about his passion for pirates. He taught a class at Washington State last year called Insurgent Warfare and Football Strategies.
A pirate comes ashore: Mississippi State fans react to Mike Leach hiring as head football coach
As the maroon-striped plane carrying new Mississippi State head football coach Mike Leach and Athletic Director John Cohen touched down at 3:22 p.m. Thursday, a chorus of cowbells erupted. Held off the tarmac by a spiked black fence, droves of MSU fans surrounded the airstrip where Leach first landed as the man tasked with coaching a program reeling from a disappointing 6-7 season that was marred by more off-the-field problems than successes on it. As the door to the plane flung open, Leach and his wife, Sharon, stepped onto a maroon carpet as the new coach clanged a personalized cowbell bearing a pirate skull for all to hear. An 18-year head coaching veteran who combined for a 139-90 record between stops at Washington State and Texas Tech, Leach was welcomed by fans across Starkville with generally open arms Thursday as a six-day search for Joe Moorhead's replacement culminated at George M. Bryan Airport. "I'm excited," Luanne Mashburn, a 1983 MSU graduate, told The Dispatch. "I've followed Mike Leach for years from his time at other places and I think he'll bring a brand of excitement we'll see on the field that'll be great."
Fans, cowbells greet Mississippi State coach Mike Leach at airport
A young fan just wanted his cowbell signed. As Mike Leach made his way around the fence that surrounds the tarmac at George M Bryan Airport, hundreds of Mississippi State fans greeted him Thursday afternoon. Young and old. Students and alumni. The child who wanted his bell signed by the 34th head coach in Mississippi State football history was among the horde of fans. Leach, wearing a maroon Mississippi State pullover, wanted to sign the child's metal noisemaker, but the coach was wielding a standard ink pen. That wasn't going to work. So he trudged forward, signing notepads and posters and anything else his pen would stick to. Fans were lined up long before the plane touched down. Mississippi State tweeted out its official hiring of Leach at 1:42 p.m. Thursday. A tweet sent at 1:57 p.m. announced that Leach would land at the local airport at 3:15 p.m. Residents of Starkville made the most of the hour and a half they had to prepare for his arrival.
Mike Leach to lead Mississippi State football
If Mississippi State's coaching search were compared to a game of UNO, athletic director John Cohen saved his wild card to play for the win. The Bulldogs have hired college football's resident pirate Mike Leach as their 34th head coach. The swashbuckling savant has spent the past eight seasons as Washington State's coach and brings 18 years of head coaching experience in Power 5 conferences. Cohen confirmed the hire in unique fashion, with a "Pirates of the Caribbean" themed tweet early Thursday afternoon. "Mike Leach is a proven winner who has established a culture of excellence for nearly two decades as a head coach," Cohen said in a statement. "An offensive genius and two-time national coach of the year, he has a track record of building programs to national prominence with accountability and a blue-collar approach. We are thrilled to welcome him and his family to the Mississippi State family and look forward to watching our football program grow under his leadership."
Mike Leach hired as Mississippi State football head coach
The pirate ship has found a new dock. Washington State head coach Mike Leach, often referred to as "the pirate" because of his fascination with 18th-century pirates, is steering his ship Southeast to become the head coach at Mississippi State. "I can't tell you how excited I am to be the head football coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs," Leach said in a statement. "I loved Washington State, but I am excited for the next chapter in the SEC." Leach has been the head coach at Washington State since 2012. He has compiled a 55-47 record in Pullman. Most recently, the Cougars went 6-7 in 2019 after an 11-2 season in 2018, which marked the most wins in program history.
Local Bulldog fans react to Leach's hiring at Mississippi State
The hiring of Mike Leach at Mississippi State appears to be generating positive buzz among the Bulldogs faithful. Mississippi State fan Jason Dyess said Leach will generate national interest in Bulldogs press conferences not seen since the hiring of Sylvester Croom, the SEC's first black head football coach, prior to the 2004 season. Tom Kendall, president of Trustmark Bank in Meridian and a 1989 graduate of Mississippi State, said like most college football fans, he's familiar with Leach and is glad the coaching search ended with someone who has a proven track record. "I know he had success at Texas Tech and Washington State, and I know he can win a press conference as well," Kendall said.
Former Mississippi State quarterback John Bond sounds off on Leach hire
Mississippi State shook the college football world Thursday with their hiring of former Washington State head coach Mike Leach. Leach is known for his press conference "antics" and his Air Raid offense, but also has a history of winning. Former Mississippi State quarterback John Bond said he thinks this is the biggest home-run hire in Mississippi State history. "I'm excited everybody loves the pirate [Leach] so we get to see the inventive Coach Leach he is on top of his game," Bond said. "It's gonna be fun a lot of people are looking forward to spring football for the first time in a long time." This is the second high-profile hire in the state of Mississippi just this year, with Ole Miss adding Lane Kiffin just last month. With Leach and Kiffin now at the forefront of recruiting in the state, it will be interesting to see the direction in-state athletes choose to take. Bond thinks a lot more athletes will choose to stay home rather than leave Mississippi. "I think it will help tremendously to keep a lot of kids in state," Bond said. "They're both exciting guys and they like to put points on the board."
Mike Leach has plenty of Mississippi players now
Mississippi sports columnist Rick Cleveland writes: Last time I talked to Mike Leach was in October of 2018. Gardner Minshew, his Washington State quarterback from Brandon, a graduate transfer, was leading the nation in passing. I called Leach to talk to him for a column on Minshew. Back then, Leach confirmed his recruiting pitch to Minshew, which was essentially, "Gardner, why don't you come out here to Washington State and lead the nation in passing?" Leach listed all the attributes that made Minshew such a successful quarterback, including intellect, willingness to work and toughness. When we finished talking about Minshew, Leach offered, unsolicited, that he planned to recruit "more Mississippi kids who care about football and don't mind hard work." Fifteen months later, boy, does Leach have his chance to do just that.
No. 13 Bulldogs extend road streak
With a 79-64 wire-to-wire victory against Missouri at Mizzou Arena on Thursday night, Mississippi State's women set a program record with their 14th- straight road win. The No. 13 Bulldogs (15-2, 3-0 SEC) own Division I's longest active road win streak, dating back to last year's victory at Washington. "I am awfully proud of my team," said head coach Vic Schaefer. "I am really proud of the way we came out and started the game. It was a 9-2 run, and they had to call a timeout. I didn't think we took our foot off the gas that entire first half." His Bulldogs led 44-22 at halftime. Reigning SEC Freshman of the Week Rickea Jackson scored a season-high 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds to pace Mississippi State. Jordan Danberry had 18 points, four rebounds, four steals and three assists and Chloe Bibby added 13 points and eight rebounds.
Mississippi State women's basketball beats Missouri to break program record with 14th straight road win
The Mississippi State women's basketball team set a school record for most consecutive road wins with a 79-64 victory over Missouri on Thursday in Columbia, Missouri. The No. 13 Bulldogs (15-2, 3-0) led wire to wire in their third straight Southeastern Conference win, starting off their conference slate at 3-0. "I am awfully proud of my team today," head coach Vic Schaefer said in a news release from Mississippi State. "Give Missouri credit. They came out and competed like I knew they would. I just have so much respect for Robin Pingeton, her staff and that team." Freshman Rickea Jackson continued a hot stretch of play with 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds for the Bulldogs. Jackson credited her success Thursday to "just my teammates finding me," she said. "They trust in me, and they know my game, and just personnel knowing each other." Mississippi State will host LSU (12-3, 2-1 SEC) at 7 p.m. next Thursday at Humphrey Coliseum.
Mizzou women hounded by No. 13 Bulldogs in 79-64 defeat
After last season's historic victory in Starkville in which the Missouri women's basketball team ended Mississippi State's 26-game Southeastern Conference winning streak, the Tigers hoped for similar heroics Thursday night. With a roster overhaul since that victory last February, however, Missouri didn't have that same spark on its home floor, and the No. 13 Bulldogs took advantage. Mississippi State jumped out to a double-digit lead by the end of the first quarter and only increased its advantage throughout to defeat Missouri 79-64 at Mizzou Arena. The Tigers fall to 4-12 overall and 1-2 in conference play. The Bulldogs improve to 15-2 and 3-0 in the SEC. Coming into the contest, Missouri head coach Robin Pingeton said a key to staying with the Bulldogs would be to limit turnovers. The Tigers finished the loss with 23 turnovers, 18 of which came in the first half. Mississippi State scored 26 points off Missouri turnovers.
Missouri falls to Mississippi State despite improved second half performance
Mississippi State was as advertised -- simply the better team. It outrebounded, outshot, out defended, outplayed and at times outhustled Missouri women's basketball en route to a 79-64 win Thursday night. Missouri had an answer for Jessika Carter, the Bulldogs' second-leading scorer who replaced Teaira McCowan, now in the WNBA. The double-double averaging forward finished with only eight points and four rebounds, but it was the rest of the team for whom Missouri couldn't account. The Bulldogs were hot from almost everywhere on the court, shooting just under 50% for the game. Where they were really lethal, though, was from the top of the lane. Mississippi State could hit jumpers off the dribble at the free-throw line, pop it from the elbow coming off a screen, drain it with a hand in the face and create space to pull back and hit shots off the drive.
Southern Miss football: Six-game home slate in 2020 football season
Southern Mississippi on Wednesday announced its schedule for football games for the 2020 season. The Golden Eagles have six home games, including three in the first three weeks of the season. The home games include South Alabama, Louisiana Tech, Jackson State, Florida Atlantic, Rice and UTSA. USM does not go on the road until Sept. 26 when the Golden Eagles play at Auburn.
Alcorn State to celebrate SWAC Championship win with parade
Alcorn State University will celebrate its SWAC Championship victory with a parade. The champions parade will be on January 19, 2020, at 4:00 p.m., starting at the corner of Washington Street and Belmont Street in Vicksburg. A presentation at the Washington Street Park in honor of the SWAC champions will follow the parade. "On behalf of the City of Vicksburg, I first want to congratulate the Alcorn football team on its outstanding season. To win the SWAC Championship is a tremendous accomplishment, and to do it four times in six years speaks volumes to the success of Coach McNair and the University," said Mayor George Flaggs Jr. "We are honored to co-host the parade, and we encourage everyone to come out and show their support for Alcorn."
Former NFL player Steve Gleason joins ranks of Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II
A week from Wednesday, congressional leaders will gather on Capitol Hill to award the next recipient of the highest honor that Congress can grant a civilian. Fewer than 200 people have received the Congressional Gold Medal, and former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason will be the first NFL player to make the cut on a list that includes the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa. Gleason, well known for blocking a punt against the Atlanta Falcons in the Saints' first home game in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, has made a notable impact for individuals with ALS since being diagnosed with the neuromuscular disease in 2011. His efforts to champion accessibility to important speech-generating devices and technologies have grasped the attention and support of not only his own community but also of Congress.

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