Wednesday, September 2, 2020   
 
MSU Vet School helping to combat COVID-19
Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine is working with the Longest Student Health Center to speed up COVID testing for students and staff. The veterinary school is processing tests to determine if a coronavirus test is positive or negative. MSU Chief Communications Officer Sid Salter said the transition from animal to human care is not all that different. "All of the laboratory amenities that you have at a human hospital, you have at a veterinary hospital as well," he said. Students and members of staff begin by getting tested at the Longest Student Health Center. He said the tests are transferred to the College of Veterinary Medicine where scientists determine if the patient is positive or negative for COVID-19. Salter believes this process brings faster results.
 
Starkville's annual Get Swept Up! volunteer day set for Wednesday
Starkville will hold its annual city cleanup day, Get Swept Up!, on Wednesday for 529 volunteers to beautify the city in preparation for Mississippi State University's upcoming football season. The Greater Starkville Development Partnership holds Get Swept Up! on the Wednesday before MSU's first home football game, which was originally scheduled for Saturday before the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced schedule changes throughout the NCAA. The home opener is now Oct. 3, but Special Events and Projects Coordinator Paige Watson said GSDP wanted to hold Get Swept Up! when it was originally scheduled. The cleanup is "the ideal social distancing activity," Watson said, with small groups stationed throughout the city "from the Cotton District to Old West Point Road" pruning bushes, picking up litter and raking leaves, among other things. The annual project draws more than 500 volunteers every year, and the pandemic did not have an impact on signups this year, Watson said.
 
Troopers preparing for Labor Day holiday weekend
The Mississippi Highway Patrol is gearing up for the upcoming Labor Day holiday enforcement period which will begin Friday and conclude Monday night. Troopers will be out in force on state and federal roadways beginning Sept. 4 at 12:01 a.m. and running through Sept. 7 at midnight. In an effort to enforce traffic laws and reduce traffic crashes, MHP will participate in Operation Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort during the holiday period. As part of Operation C.A.R.E., all available troopers will be assigned to saturation patrols to combat speeding and distracted driving issues. Drivers need to be mindful of the fact that bad decisions regarding impaired driving can result in serious consequences. In order to remove impaired drivers and promote seatbelt usage, safety checkpoints will be established throughout the holiday period. During the 2019 Labor Day enforcement period, MHP investigated 131 crashes including three fatalities and made 216 DUI arrests.
 
Designers behind new Mississippi state flag finalists want wide appeal, not division
It's been two months since Mississippi legislators acted under pressure to retire the last state flag that included the Confederate battle emblem that's widely seen as racist. On Wednesday, a commission is expected to recommend a new state flag design -- one that will be put before state voters to approve or reject in November. Creators of the final two designs say their work reflects a love for Mississippi and a desire for a banner that a wide range of people can fly with pride. The magnolia flag is a combination of elements submitted by five people. Four live in Mississippi, and one is a Mississippi native living in San Francisco. The flag with the shield, nicknamed the "Great River Flag," is by graphic designer Micah Whitson, who grew up in Alabama, graduated from the University of Mississippi and now lives in Boston. Whitson has been creating art that he calls "love letters" to the South, where his wife also grew up. Whitson, 39, said Tuesday that when Mississippi sought designs for a new flag, "I was like, 'Come on, this was the moment I was made for.'"
 
Navy contract brings more jobs to Mississippi Gulf Coast
High-performance marine composites manufacturer Seemann Composites, Inc. is expanding in Gulfport to fulfill a new contract with the U.S. Navy. The project is a $2.1 million corporate investment and will create 35 jobs. The Mississippi Development Authority is providing assistance for construction of the company's addition. "Seemann Composites' new contract to produce high-tech composite components for the U.S. Navy serves as a strong testament to Mississippi's incredible Gulf Coast workforce. The hard work of Seemann Composites' employees contributes significantly to the company's continued success, just as the 35 new employees will play an important role in its successful future," MDA Interim Director John Rounsaville said. "MDA is grateful for our partnerships with the Harrison County Development Commission and Harrison County Board of Supervisors, which continue to strengthen the economy of the Mississippi Gulf Coast."
 
Grant program drags slowly as small businesses struggle to survive pandemic
Mississippi, like most other states, is trying to use some of its federal COVID-19 aid money to help small businesses. The Legislature in May passed measures to provide emergency small business grants, and the program commenced June 11. But getting that money out to the businesses has been a slow process. As of Aug. 28, less than 8% of the $240 million allocated to the Back to Business program had been approved for grants, and that's after a major spike in approvals late last week. As of early August, only about 1% of the money had been distributed. The Mississippi Development Authority, charged with running the Back to Business grant program -- using a private contractor -- vows to move more rapidly. "While the review process is time-consuming, we are currently reviewing approximately 600 applications per day and issuing payments as soon as possible," said MDA Director John Rounsaville. "In fact (Friday) we've processed 1,076 payments. MDA is committed to closing out the Back to Business grants by the end of September, and we are on track to accomplish that."
 
State Sen. Chris McDaniel comments on Jacob Blake shooting
One state senator took to social media to voice his opinion regarding a recent officer-involved shooting in Wisconsin that sparked protests. State Sen. Chris McDaniel took to Facebook to discuss his views on the police shooting of Jacob Blake. More than a week ago, police shot Blake after a disturbance in Kenosha, Wisconsin The shooting left Blake paralyzed. The two officers involved in the shooting remain on administrative leave during the investigation. Protests and prayer vigils followed across the country. Black Lives Matter supporters say Blake's shooting is another act of police brutality and sheds more light on the issue of systemic racism. Merriam-Webster defines racism in three ways -- one being "a political or social system founded on racism." McDaniel disagrees with the view of Black Lives Matter in his Facebook video, blaming the shooting on Blake's criminal record and actions. "Folks, that's not systemic oppression. That's a guy who was behaving like a criminal," said McDaniel. "Was this the result of systemic oppression? Not a chance."
 
Scott Walker says dad is doing 'great job' paying for his crime. Prosecutors disagree.
To hear Scott Walker tell it, he and father Bill Walker are doing "a great job" paying back the combined $752,689 they stole from the government. But the federal government doesn't see it that way. For the second time, Bill Walker stood before a magistrate judge in U.S. District Court, charged with failing to make court-ordered monthly restitution payments of $5,000 toward the $373,248.06 he personally owes. Magistrate Judge Robert P. Myers Jr. read Bill Walker his rights Tuesday as the 74-year-old stood in a somber black suit, his son seated in the front row. Bill Walker then told the magistrate judge that he was unable to find a lawyer to represent him at the initial appearance. Myers gave Bill Walker a list of 20 attorneys and said he had better call them and find an attorney before he appears in court again. At one point, when Myers asked a question, Walker turned and looked at his son, who nodded in his mask with an American flag at the top corner. After the hearing, the loquacious Scott Walker talked to the Sun Herald while his father stood silently. Scott Walker said the situation deserved a "positive" spin.
 
In Kenosha, President Trump says law enforcement isn't systemically racist, and needed structural change is safety
President Donald Trump took his reelection message of law and order to riot-torn Kenosha and the key swing state of Wisconsin on Tuesday, saying he doesn't believe law enforcement is systemically racist and contending that those protesting for structural change in American society are ignoring those who want safety. Making the trip over the objections of the Democratic governor and mayor, the Republican president lavished praise on a state essential to his 2016 victory and a crucial one for his reelection prospects against Democrat Joe Biden. Trump vowed to pump millions of dollars to help rebuild Kenosha and fund law enforcement efforts statewide. "Kenosha's been ravaged by anti-police and anti-American riots," said Trump, who criticized "violent mobs" for destroying businesses and throwing bricks at police in an act he likened to "domestic terrorism." But Trump did not visit Jacob Blake, the 29-year-old Black man left paralyzed after being shot in the back by a Kenosha police officer on Aug. 23, leading to days of protest, unrest and buildings destroyed by fire. The president also did not mention Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old from Antioch charged with subsequently killing two protesters and wounding a third, a day after he refused to denounce the accused vigilante.
 
Generation Z In The GOP: Young Republicans Reflect On The Future Of Their Party
Lizzie Bond was just shy of being old enough to vote in the 2016 presidential election. She supported Texas Sen. Ted Cruz during the primary. But when Donald Trump became the Republican Party's presidential nominee, Bond made a different choice: She supported Hillary Clinton's campaign instead. In 2016, Bond joined a group of Republican women campaigning for Clinton, saying that a "character question ... just made it impossible for me in good conscience to support President Trump." She still holds that view today. While Bond says the Republican Party is failing to reach voters like her, last week's Republican National Convention made clear that Trump and his allies are making a concerted appeal to a new generation of voters. The four-day affair showcased figures like Charlie Kirk, a co-founder of Turning Point USA, and Madison Cawthorn, who recently won a congressional primary in North Carolina. Born after 1996, members of Generation Z tend to lean left like their millennial counterparts. And even among the universe of young Republicans that does exist, research suggests that Trump's appeal with these voters may have its limits.
 
Chancellor Glenn Boyce provides COVID-19 update
The University of Mississippi is a week and a half into its fall semester and on Tuesday, Chancellor Glenn Boyce provided an update on the campus' efforts after seeing nearly 300 COVID-19 positive cases among the campus community. Last Friday, Dr. Thomas Dobbs and Dr. Paul Byers with the Mississippi State Department of Health met with Boyce and others regarding the MSDH's guidance to the state's universities regarding the isolation and quarantine process. There has been confusion regarding the isolation and quarantine of students who test positive or have come in close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. On Aug. 21, the Friday before the fall semester was set to begin, the University was made aware of an outbreak in a university setting was defined by MSDH as three or more positive cases among a defined group, such as residents of a floor in a residence hall or members of a team. During their meeting on Aug. 28, MSDH informed Boyce they would work to clarify their guidance to colleges and universities on how to quarantine people affected by outbreak.
 
How Ole Miss is handling isolation, quarantine orders
Some of Mississippi's cases are being reported on the state's college campuses now that students have returned for the fall semester. Let's start by clarifying some terms that a lot of folks have been using interchangeably. Quarantine is for individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19. Isolation is for those with a confirmed case of the virus. As of September 1, Ole Miss has 290 active COVID-19 cases. 280 of those are among students. There are designated on-campus isolation and quarantine spaces. 29 students are in on-campus isolation and 57 of them in designated quarantine space. Notice that means 251 of those who've tested positive are isolating off campus. That same option is given to those quarantining. "We advise our students to consult with their families about their options," explained Jim Zook, University of Mississippi Chief Marketing and Communications Officer. "We are looking at a wide range of options," noted Zook. "So, we are talking with local hotels. We have been doing that for a while. We're talking with local apartment owners about space that might be available. And that's one of the key measures that we're looking at to assess our ability to respond."
 
Auburn assures no plans to shut down campus, says doubling of new cases was expected
The number of Auburn University students who self-reported positive COVID-19 tests last week to the university more than doubled from the previous week, though the university says it has no plans of shutting down campus. Auburn University reported that 490 students and eight employees self-reported positive COVID-19 test results from Aug. 22 to Aug. 28. An additional 18 students at the Auburn University airport and one at the Shell Fisheries also self reported positive tests. Auburn University changed how it's calculating the total number of cases among its campus community. Data provided Tuesday represents individuals who self-reported positive test results to Auburn University, according to the school's COVID-19 data dashboard. A popular Instagram account with 33,000 followers shared a sentiment during the weekend among students instructing each other to not report their COVID-19 results to Auburn University because they feel it would lead to campus closing similar to the spring. The Opelika-Auburn News asked Auburn University about social media posts like the one mentioned above and were told students are required to self-report cases. It remains unclear how Auburn plans to enforce that requirement, but a spokesperson said it is "crucial" for students to self-report.
 
LSU's surge in coronavirus cases is not alarming, president says; fall semester will continue
Despite a surge in coronavirus cases at LSU in the first week of classes, the university's interim president Tom Galligan said school leaders are nowhere near moving the fall semester back to fully-remote yet. Galligan said in an interview the school is urging students to get tested, especially at residence halls where multiple people have tested positive for the virus, in hopes of stemming massive outbreaks. But even with 182 new cases over five days, the school is not willing to end its in-person fall semester yet, he said. "I'm not alarmed. Certainly I'm monitoring. We would rather the number is zero but we know that's unrealistic," Galligan said. "In the context of coming back and increasing our testing capacity we expected we would see more positives." Gov. John Bel Edwards echoed Galligan's comments at a Tuesday press conference, saying he is "concerned" but not alarmed at the rise in cases.
 
U. of Arkansas tells certain groups to 'immediately suspend all in-person activities' amid virus cases
Certain University of Arkansas, Fayetteville groups with members who have tested positive for covid-19 should "immediately suspend all in-person activities" and get tested even if they have no current symptoms, a university spokesman said Monday. UA spokesman Mark Rushing did not name specific groups. State Health Department Secretary Jose Romero on Friday said there were an "alarming" number of covid-19 cases at UA, and the university on Monday reported 151 new positive covid-19 cases identified over the three-day period from Friday through Sunday. Notifications to suspend in-person activities are currently taking place "in cases where individuals who are connected in some way through an organization, living or working arrangement, or other group activity receive positive test results," Rushing said in an email. The state Department of Health is conducting drive-through testing at UA for students Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
 
Top U. of South Carolina coronavirus officials strike positive tone in COVID case numbers, testing
Despite a recent surge of cases, top University of South Carolina officials are not yet ringing the alarm bells, they said at a Tuesday press conference. One of the major reasons why: saliva testing, said College of Pharmacy Dean Stephen Cutler and Arnold School of Public Health epidemiologist Melissa Nolan. "It's part of just a package of what we're able to provide...it's just one in a series of items in our toolbox," Nolan said during the press conference. "Most of those items are working very well." Cutler agreed, saying the saliva testing -- something other shuttered college campuses such as University of North Carolina and North Carolina State did not have -- was a "game changer." While the original COVID 19 tests, the nasopharyngeal swab, took several days to return test results and were widely considered to be very uncomfortable, saliva testing can return results in hours and is no more uncomfortable than spitting in a cup. USC ran clinical tests comparing the nasopharyngeal swab to the saliva test and found the saliva tests were every bit as effective as the swab test, Cutler said.
 
Pandemic takes its toll on international student enrollment at U. of Missouri
Setsabile Shiba will have to wait one more semester to be a University of Missouri student. Born and raised in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), a country in Southern Africa with 1.1 million residents, the 25-year-old was accepted for fall 2020 as a master's student in Animal Sciences, but instead she will start her program in spring 2021. She wasn't able to get her visa in time, and in addition there were no international flights from any airport nearby because of the pandemic. Shiba is one of 62 MU students who opted for a deferral to spring semester because they were not able to arrive to Columbia this fall. Forty-seven of them are graduate students, and 15 are undergraduates. MU officials told the Missourian there has been an 18.8% overall decline in the number of international students on campus this fall. Opening-day numbers showed international students were down from 1,552 in fall 2019 to 1,261 on Aug. 24. However, the number of international freshmen is up slightly, from 31 in 2019 to 36 this year.
 
Colleges furlough more employees
The beginning of September marked the start of long-term furloughs for many colleges. After widespread budget slashing and subsequent furloughs in April, a second wave of revenue shortfalls is sweeping colleges as they attempt to safely reopen for in-person classes and, in some cases, abruptly reverse course. Winthrop University's Board of Trustees last week approved a furlough plan that will impact hundreds of employees. Between Sept. 1 and June 30 of next year, more than 700 Winthrop employees will be required to take between two and 20 furlough days, depending on their position, according to Winthrop spokesperson Monica Bennett. In-person instruction delays and last-minute changes to reopening plans have put a financial strain on many colleges, including Winthrop. Clemson University also implemented a furlough plan that began Sept. 1. It will require more than 3,000 employees to take a number of furlough days depending on their salaries. James Clements, president of Clemson, and all athletics employees making more than $400,000 will also take a voluntary 10 percent salary reduction. The university projects to lose between $120 million and $180 million due to the pandemic, according to a Clemson spokesperson.
 
Students may lose trust in colleges due to pandemic response
This fall term, though it has barely begun, has been one of the most chaotic in decades for colleges and students. Many colleges and universities around the country have changed their plans for in-person classes days before -- or even after -- the term has begun. Some have brought students back to campus, only to quickly struggle with outbreaks and infections. Research has shown that students vastly prefer a semester in person, with some saying they would be unlikely to return for remote learning. But whether students and families will continue to trust institutions that have brought them to campus, only to send them back and forth across the country, lock them in their dorms, or allow them to get sick, remains to be seen. Observers say students may end up feeling that their colleges were less than honest. The most recent polling, conducted in early August, shows that most students then believed their institutions were looking out for them and handling the situation well.
 
Covid-19 Is Threatening the In-Person Semester. Can Wastewater Testing Help Save It?
Wastewater testing, or surveillance, may prove to be an important tool in detecting and stopping coronavirus outbreaks --- at a time when campuses need all the help they can get. So far, the national return-to-campus-during-a-pandemic experiment has yielded sobering results, with campuses like the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa and Illinois State University topping 1,000 cases of Covid-19 and other colleges quickly moving instruction online as cases skyrocket. As more students return to more colleges, sewage testing may be a welcome bright spot. This detection method could be particularly useful because the virus shows up in people's feces about a week before they start showing symptoms of Covid-19. At Clemson University, David L. Freedman, an environmental-engineering professor, has been working since May with Sirem, a company based in Knoxville, Tenn., to test the university's wastewater-treatment facility and two others nearby. Freedman added that testing wastewater is a relatively inexpensive way to detect the virus. Clemson is paying Sirem $450 for each sewage test, he said, and has budgeted $70,000 for the fall semester. Colleges should theoretically have to perform many fewer sewage tests than individual clinical tests in order to detect the virus. They can then use clinical tests, at $100 to $150 each, to isolate the positive cases.
 
'Nobody Likes Snitching': How Rules Against Parties Are Dividing Campuses
It looked to be a typical college party: a small group of students crammed in a kitchenette, cheering on as a shirtless guy arm-wrestled a laughing young woman. No one wore masks. The scene was posted on Snapchat by one of the partygoers, a first-year student at Cornell University, along with a selfie with a mocking caption: "The people who slide up saying 'you're not social distancing' are the ones that wouldn't have been invited anyway." The response was swift and severe. Within days, an online petition was created demanding that the student's admission to Cornell be revoked, and in the week since, the petition has collected more than 3,500 signatures. The situation at Cornell underscores a deeper tension on campuses all over the country as about 1,100 colleges embark on the huge experiment of reopening in a pandemic. Students, returning to school after months of isolation, are not only being asked to fully reimagine what their college social lives look like, but also to assume active roles as the front line against an outbreak at their schools by policing campus safety. It's an extraordinary situation, and students face a quandary: Report parties to campus officials? Or keep quiet and hope for the best?
 
Moody's: Auxiliary Revenue in Danger, but College Bond Defaults Remain Unlikely
Bond payment defaults are unlikely in higher education, even as more universities retreat to online and hybrid learning this fall because of the coronavirus and in doing so risk revenue declines from auxiliary services like parking and dormitories, according to Moody's Investors Service. Some colleges might miss debt service coverage covenants, the ratings agency said in a new report. But universities can reduce expenses, borrow internally and use reserves to repay debts, or they can refinance to lower payments in the immediate future. Those that have borrowed heavily to pay for auxiliary facilities and that use money generated by those facilities to repay debt are under the most pressure. Auxiliary revenue from services like student housing and dining halls make up a median 13 percent of operating revenue for the higher education sector. The range is wide within the portfolio of companies Moody's rates, though, running from less than 5 percent to more than 30 percent. An expected "unprecedented reduction in auxiliary revenues" in the current fiscal year means thinner operating cash flow margins and less budget flexibility for many colleges and universities. Credit profiles will weaken for institutions that have done the most borrowing while planning repayments from auxiliary revenue.
 
State's high court right to reject egregious 'bite mark' evidence in Death Row case
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: A decade ago, I was writing about what I saw as a crisis in Mississippi's death investigation system. Last week, the state Supreme Court took an essential step toward facing up to a system that remained broken for decades in the case of Death Row inmate Eddie Lee Howard Jr. ... Last week, the Supreme Court vacated Howard's conviction and death sentence and granted him a new trial based on the court's majority ruling that: "Given the inadmissibility of Dr. West's identification of Howard as the biter, the absence of forensic or eyewitness evidence putting Howard at the scene of the crime, and the newly discovered presence of another man's DNA on the murder weapon, we conclude that Howard met his burden to show by a preponderance of the evidence that in light of his newly discovered evidence, a jury would probably not find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." In a statement after the court's ruling, the Mississippi Innocence Project said that Howard was "the fourth Mississippian tried and convicted for capital murder based on the forensic work and testimony of Dr. Steven Hayne and Dr. Michael West."


SPORTS
 
Mississippi State vs LSU gets SEC on CBS; kickoff times, TV networks announced for 3 other MSU games
Mississippi State fans won't have to fumble through their TV listings to find the Bulldogs' season opener on Sept. 26. It'll be MSU versus LSU at 2:30 p.m. CT on CBS. This marks the second-straight season the Bulldogs and Tigers will square off in the coveted 'SEC on CBS' time slot. LSU beat Mississippi State 36-13 at Davis Wade Stadium last October. This year's matchup flips back to Baton Rouge at Tiger Stadium. Death Valley will have far fewer fans inside its gates than normal because of COVID-19 restrictions. For those not in attendance, Brad Nessler and Gary Danielson will have the call on CBS. Jamie Erdahl has sideline reporting duties while Gene Steratore will again serve as the network's rules analyst. Both teams will likely have new starting quarterbacks. Mississippi State is expected to roll out graduate transfer K.J. Costello while LSU has replaced Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow with redshirt junior Myles Brennan. Costello has 6,151 career passing yards to Brennan's 600. There are many intriguing story lines heading into what is shaping up to be one of the most unique SEC football seasons ever. Mike Leach making his return to the conference is definitely one of them. All eyes will be on Leach and his Air Raid offense in Week 1.
 
Bulldogs, Rebels get daylight kickoffs on Sept. 26
Mississippi State and LSU will open the 2020 football season in a featured national TV spot. Ole Miss, meanwhile, starts with a morning kickoff. Mississippi State, which kicks off the season at LSU on Sept. 26, gets the initial featured TV slot at 2:30 p.m. on CBS. That opening game will feature Mike Leach's Bulldogs debut at the defending national champions. That same day, Ole Miss will begin the Lane Kiffin era at home in an 11 a.m. kick on ESPN against Florida and former MSU coach Dan Mullen. There was no announcement on Tuesday about a kickoff time for the Egg Bowl, which is scheduled to see Mississippi State visit Ole Miss on Nov. 28. Also notable other times that CBS announced include Texas A&M at Alabama on Oct. 3 at 2:30 p.m., Georgia at Alabama on Oct. 17 at 7 p.m., LSU at Auburn on Oct. 31 at 2:30 p.m., Florida against Georgia in Jacksonville on Nov. 7 at 2:30 p.m., Alabama at LSU on Nov. 14 at 5 p.m. and the SEC Championship game on Dec. 19, with the kickoff time to be determined.
 
Mike Leach brings high-octane philosophy to Mississippi State
Mike Leach and his Mississippi State football players have a lot to learn about each other in a short period of time. Given his successful background, it's possible for the outspoken coach and the Bulldogs to become quick studies. For now, there's work to be done as Leach instills his pass-heavy Air Raid scheme to the offense in hopes of turning things around. "We've got it installed, now we just have to polish it up and execute it and be more automatic," said Leach, who was 139-90 at Washington State and Texas Tech. "It's still a work in progress, and I guess it's continually a work in progress." His plan in Starkville is continuing what he did with the Cougars and Texas Tech: turn the mediocre Bulldogs back into winners and then contend in the tough Southeastern Conference West Division. The latter is a tall task by any measure, more so with the coronavirus pandemic eliminating spring drills and practices to August.
 
'You've got to show me': How Mississippi State's assistant coaches are shifting the team's mindset toward success
Gathered in a circle on the practice fields behind the Leo Seal Jr. Football Complex, first-year head coach Mike Leach offers his team a daily sermon of sorts. Motivational and determined. Exciting and angsty. After Leach's fiery wordplay, two players are siphoned into the center of the circle for battle. As players collide off five-yard head starts, the clacking of shoulder pads sends those in the outer circle into a frenzy as one player hits the ground and the other stands victorious. Practice has begun. "Everybody cheers, yells, gets fired up," Leach said Saturday of beginning each day with the drill better known as "bull in the ring," "one-on-one," or "the circle drill." Starting each day with a daily dose of crunching hits, there's an air of intensity about practices in Starkville these days. With the waves of change being steered by a head coach who fancies himself an aficionado of 18th-century swashbucklers, The Pirate's first staff in Starkville has brought with it an attitude and mindset that seeks to build a winning culture in its earliest days.
 
Why player protests hit home for Mississippi State football assistant coach Tony Hughes
Tony Hughes has walked a mile in the shoes of a student-athlete -- or any Black American, for that matter -- who feels fed up with racial injustice in the United States. Many miles, actually. Many memorable miles for all the wrong reasons. Hughes, Mississippi State's associate head coach, was born in Forest in 1959. He was raised in the Deep South during the height of the Civil Rights era. Some 61 years later, Americans are still marching against oppression akin to the kind Hughes felt during that time. "I've experienced racism and segregation," Hughes said. "Growing up in segregated Mississippi, I remember separate restrooms, riding in the back of the bus, having to go to the restaurant and not being able to go in the front door and (going) in the doctor's office in the back and all of those things, but I didn't let that stop me from where I wanted to be and where I wanted to go and what I wanted to accomplish in my life." The Civil Rights Act of 1964 took care of the outright discrimination Hughes described. It was supposed to, anyway. The act of signing something into law, however, does not automatically wipe out the widespread racism that was facilitated for years and years.
 
Mississippi State men's basketball strength and conditioning coach Collin Crane pleased with team's progress in offseason workouts
This hasn't been a typical summer of conditioning for Mississippi State men's basketball. Rigorous cleaning protocols have been installed that were nonexistent a year ago. The coaching staff must wear face coverings and masks while supervising workouts. When in the weight room, only a maximum of six players are allowed to work out together at a given time, although the full team is allowed to condition together when social distancing is possible. Some players arrived on campus in mid-June, while international student Quinten Post couldn't get back in the country from the Netherlands to rejoin his teammates until August. Nevertheless, workouts remain ongoing, with the goal remaining the same: to build a foundation for the 2020-2021 campaign and continue momentum generated from three straight seasons of at least 20 wins. "Obviously there's some new challenges with protocols we have to follow. But the physical preparation piece, we go back to the same principles that we've always used," MSU strength and conditioning coach Collin Crane said. "A lot of those X's and O's of our training haven't really changed; it's just a lot of little things we have to do differently ... At the end of the day, we still have our system that we train in and relentlessly pursue results in the weight room and the court."
 
2020 football tractor-trailers donated to Ole Miss, MSU & Southern Miss
KLLM Transport Services (KLLM) unveiled the 2020 versions of the football tractor-trailers for the state's Division-I FBS football teams. Ole Miss, Mississippi State University, and the University of Southern Mississippi all received a donated Freightliner tractor, in addition to custom trailers. "We are thrilled to be donating football equipment tractor-trailers to all three Division-I FBS universities in Mississippi for the first time," said Jim Richards, KLLM CEO and president. "These trucks will be visible nationwide as each team travels to away games and carries their equipment, and the marketing and branding value for each university throughout the year is immense. The feedback from each fanbase has been great over the last week." All three tractor-trailers are wrapped with graphics representing each team's colors and traditions. In addition to the trucks, KLLM will donate both fuel and drivers throughout the year.
 
How Jeffery Simmons on a Nissan Stadium banner shows how far he's come for Titans
The GPS tracking data on Jeffery Simmons has been revealing. During a Titans training camp practice in August, a screen pass wound up extending 30 or 40 yards downfield. Simmons, the Titans' first-round pick a year ago, was clocked at 18 mph as he chased the ball carrier. That's fast for anyone. For a defensive lineman who checks in at 310 pounds on a good day, it's eye-opening. "That was something I think that maybe stood out early on," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. "I think that his effort has been outstanding." Simmons has covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time -- in more ways than one. The Titans selected the Mississippi State product with the 19th overall pick in 2019, a controversial selection at the time. For one, Simmons had a red flag in his history. He struck a woman during a fight while he was in high school and was found guilty of malicious mischief. He pleaded no contest to simple assault. There was also a torn ACL in the left knee that Simmons suffered in February 2019. It prevented him from starting his rookie season on time, though it made his quick return to the field all the more miraculous. And now he's one of 12 Titans who is featured on one of the four banners hanging on the facade of Nissan Stadium. It's Simmons' maturity that has stood out most in 2020, Vrabel said.
 
'We're going to make a difference:' Ole Miss explains protest march, what it will do next
Don't think of Ole Miss' recent player march to protest police brutality as an ending. It's more of a statement of action. The Ole Miss football team didn't practice last Friday. A practice was scheduled. But it didn't happen. Rather, players and coaches marched from campus to downtown Oxford in solidarity with the national protests related to a police shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin where an officer shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back. As linebacker MoMo Sanogo explained, the march was a spontaneous reaction to the way players were feeling on Monday. Sanogo was asked if these demonstrations might continue on Sept. 26 when the Rebels open their 2020 season at home against Florida. According to Sanogo, all is possible. "We haven't (discussed this as a team) yet because we're focusing on getting the team prepared," Sanogo said. "But I'm sure we'll do something. I'm sure we'll even reach out to Florida and do something as a unified unit. I don't know what it might be, but there's a great opportunity and a great platform to do it. I don't see why not."
 
How Ed Orgeron is trying to 'be part of the solution' after LSU players protest social injustice | LSU | theadvocate.com
Ed Orgeron sought advice sometime within the past four days from one of his longtime mentors, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. The men have maintained a friendship since Carroll hired Orgeron at USC almost 20 years ago, and Orgeron wanted to know how Carroll, a White man, handled discussions about social injustice and racism with his football team. Carroll had given a 15-minute statement about those issues Saturday, the day after LSU's football players marched through campus instead of attending practice. Carroll spoke about voting rights, education, compassion and the responsibility White people have to help eradicate racism in America. Orgeron later called Carroll for advice, and after their conversation, Orgeron said he learned he can't be "oblivious to what's going on out there" in regards to social injustices. "We talked about it as a team," said Orgeron, a White man. "Getting more educated about it, letting our guys voice their opinions, talking about the things they're going through and how we can be a part of the solution."
 
UGA football players, Kirby Smart unite in show of support for social justice
A large number of Georgia football players gathered Tuesday evening in front of the Holmes-Hunter Academic Building to listen the son of one of the first Black students to enroll at the University. Hamilton Holmes Jr., son of Hamilton Holmes, spoke to the players who were wearing black game jerseys after they took part in what a team spokesman called "an organized walk," in support of social justice. Coach Kirby Smart also shared remarks. It came five days after Bulldog players and staff members spent three and a half hours during a day off from practice to share their feelings during a week when the shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year old Black man, in Kenosha, Wis., reignited protests and the focus on police brutality. "The last few weeks have been really hard, just to see everything that's going on in the news," linebacker Jermaine Jones said Monday. "It struck me as well as my teammates really hard, white or Black because we're united here. We're brothers. Those type of issues affect all of us." The Holmes-Hunter Academic Building was renamed to mark the 40th anniversary of the university's desegregation.
 
President Donald Trump tweets about 'very productive' talk with Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren on restarting football season
Big Ten football could start "immediately" -- if the president of the United States has anything to say about it. President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday about having a "very productive" conversation with Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren on the topic of starting the Big Ten football season, which the conference later confirmed in a statement. "Would be good [great!] for everyone -- Players, Fans, Country. On the one yard line!" Trump wrote. Trump added some details later before departing for an appearance in the Midwest, the location of several potential swing states for November's presidential election. "Let's see what happens. [Warren's] a great guy. It's a great conference. Tremendous teams. And we're pushing very hard," Trump said, per a White House press office transcript. "I think the biggest headwind we have is that you have Democrats that don't want to see it happen. But I think they want to play, and the fans want to see it, and the players have a lot at stake, including possibly playing in the NFL. You have a lot of great players in that conference." As it stands now, though, the conference isn't planning to play until winter 2021, though a plan to start around Thanksgiving also is being considered.
 
Purdue President Mitch Daniels on Big Ten's decision: 'Too uncertain to proceed in good conscience'
Purdue President Mitch Daniels made his first public comments Tuesday since the Big Ten Conference voted to postpone the 2020 football season. Daniels declined an interview request by the Journal & Courier but provided a statement through a spokesperson on the league's historic decision. Daniels was among the group of Council of Presidents/Chancellors who voted not to play any sports during the fall season due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In a court filing Monday, the Big Ten said the vote was 11-3 in favor of postponing the 2020 season. ESPN.com reported the three schools to cast dissenting votes were Nebraska, Iowa and Ohio State. Daniels hopes that "we can go forward with competitions later this year, or at least in the spring semester." The conference is considering, according to national media outlets, starting the football season over the Thanksgiving weekend or possibly in January. Daniels' statement came on the same day President Donald Trump held a phone call with Commissioner Kevin Warren about "starting up Big Ten football," Trump said on Twitter.
 
The 1918 Pandemic Was Deadlier, but College Football Continued. Here's Why.
On Sept. 28, 1918, Riley Shue played in his first college football game. Eleven days later, the Miami (Ohio) guard died of the flu. A starter at Texas also died of influenza that fall. So did a player at West Virginia, and Ohio State's team captain from the year before. That's just a few we know about. It isn't clear how many college football players died of the flu in fall 1918. The 1918-19 flu scourge was more lethal than the current coronavirus pandemic, killing 675,000 in the U.S., and was especially fatal in 20- to 40-year-olds. Covid-19 infections have killed more than 180,000 this year, and the U.S. has more than three times the population it did a century ago. Why would universities in 1918 forge ahead with football while a virus decimated the ranks of young, healthy men? The answer is something arguably even bigger than a global pandemic: a global war. The lead-up to that 1918 college football season was similarly chaotic to this year's, which starts in earnest on Thursday with about half of the nation's major college teams opting out. But the overlay of World War I made 1918 unique, and gave grim weight to the metaphor of football as a battle.



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