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February 24, 2017

2017 Oscar Predictions

By amber_helsel

by Tyler Edwards

As a society, we love to project feelings and analogies on to big cultural events—the Patriots coming from behind for a shocking last-minute win the Super Bowl is just like Donald Trump winning the election, right?

Well, the Academy Awards are no different. The nominees all seem to represent some part of our current culture: America’s growing diversity in the African American and queer “Moonlight,” the plight of poor white America in “Hell or High Water,” the escapism of “La La Land,” the Trumpian patriotism of “Hacksaw Ridge” and the hard fought battles women of color face in “Hidden Figures.”

Despite living in tougher times post-election, this year’s batch of Oscar nominees are actually an encouraging beacon of diversity. After last year’s #OscarSoWhite controversy, the Academy decided to acknowledge an incredible slate of talent and diversity this year.

And while most of the awards appear to be “La La Land”’s to lose, don’t count out of some of the dark horses! So here is a handy guide to help you not lose your office Oscar-pool.

Best Picture

Predicted win: “La La Land” Dark Horse: “Hidden Figures”

Winning Best picture seems like a foregone conclusion for the hit musical “La La Land.” Despite being a movie about jazz staring two white people, “La La Land’s” escapism and joy—and Hollywood loving to award movies about itself—this is the safest bet for the night’s most coveted award. “Manchester by the Sea” and “Moonlight” are stunningly beautiful and poignant films, but they just aren’t going to have the popular appeal that “La La Land” does to bring home the Best Picture award. If anything does have a chance at upsetting “La La Land,” my money would be on “Hidden Figures.” While not the best film of the year, it’s the highest grossing of all the nominees and the way the best picture voting works could allow it to slip in under the radar.

Best Actor

Predicted win: Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”) Dark Horse: Denzel Washington (“Fences”)

This award was in the bag for Casey Affleck and his incredible performance in “Manchester by the Sea,” but some late breaking sexual assault allegations have put a damper on some of his award-season buzz. While still the front-runner, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Denzel Washington take home the award for “Fences.”

Best Actress

Predicted win: Emma Stone (“La La Land”) Dark Horse: Natalie Portman (“Jackie”)

“La La Land” is going to rack-up on the lion’s share of the awards, but the only acting recognition it is going to get is for Emma Stone’s sure-fire win for Best Actress. Natalie Portman’s turn as Jackie Kennedy was the front-runner early on, but all the buzz around her performance seems to have faded. That being said, it’s never smart to count out Meryl Streep!

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted win: Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”) Dark Horse: Dev Patel (“Lion”)

“Moonlight” was probably my favorite movie of the year, and while I would love ...

February 23, 2017

Prescott and Cowboys to Face Cardinals in HOF Game

By bryanflynn

Dallas Cowboy fans might not have to wait long to see the start of year two of the Dak Prescott era. The Cowboys will face the Arizona Cardinals in the 2017 Hall of Fame Game on Thursday, Aug. 3.

Since this is the first preseason game of the new year, it is possible that neither Prescott nor Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer will play. Quarterback Tony Romo might get the start if he hasn’t been released or traded at that point. Dallas could also decide to rest running back Ezekiel Elliott so he will be fresh for the regular season.

Still, this will be the first NFL football since the New England Patriots’ amazing comeback in Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Hall of Fame game will have some changes this year. The biggest change is that it will be on Thursday instead of Sunday to make the enshrinement the biggest part of the weekend.

This is the first time the game has been played on a Thursday in NFL history. The other change is that the game will be played in the new Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio. Last year’s game was suspended due to the poor field conditions.

It makes perfect sense to have the Cowboys and Cardinals face off in the game. Former Arizona Cardinal and St. Louis Rams quarterback Kurt Warner and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones are both part of the 2017 Hall of Fame class.

The rest of the class includes former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis, former San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson, former Seattle Seahawks safety Kenny Easley, former Miami Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor, and former New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons kicker Morten Andersen.

On Friday night, the Hall of Fame will honor the 2017 Class with the Enshrinees’ Gold Jacket Dinner at the Canton Memorial Civic Center. Past Hall of Famers will greet the new class and welcome them into the exclusive club they are joining.

On Saturday night the new class officially enter the Hall of Fame during a nationally televised ceremony. On Sunday is the Enshrinees’ Roundtable and the yearly Concert for Legends.

Moving the game to Thursday makes sense since the field used to be overworked by the time the game was played on Sunday. It also makes sense to make the enshrinement the most important part of the weekend.

Fans will get a chance to see Prescott, Elliott, Palmer and the other stars when the Cowboys and Cardinals battle in the regular season.

February 23, 2017

NCAA Levels New Allegations Against the Rebels

By bryanflynn

At this moment, it must feel like the Sword of Damocles is hanging over the University of Mississippi’s football program. But the question isn’t if the sword will fall but when it will.

In this case, the sword is the NCAA, and the Rebels must feel like they are hanging on by a single strand of hair a horse’s tail. UM received new notice of allegations from the NCAA, including eight more charges.

The biggest and potentially most devastating new charge is a lack of institutional control and Head Coach Hugh Freeze failing to monitor his coaching staff. As the NCAA continued to dig into the Rebels’ sports programs, the football program now has 21 violations.

Besides the lack of institutional control and Freeze’s failure to monitor, here are the seven new allegations.

A recruit was allowed to hunt on property that a booster owned while UM was recruiting him, and he was allowed to hunt again on the property after signing with the school.

From March 2014 to January 2015, a former staff member provided improper inducements in the form of lodging and transportation valued at $2,272 for two potential recruits. Both recruits signed with other programs.

A former staff member provided false and misleading information to the university and the NCAA about his involvement in recruiting violations.

Another former staff member facilitated a recruit’s meeting with two boosters to receive cash payments from $13,000 to $15,000. That recruit didn’t sign with the Rebels.

Another former staff member allowed one associate of a recruit and two other potential recruits to receive merchandise totaling $2,800 from a booster-owned store.

In 2014 a current Rebels coach made improper in-person and off-campus contact with a recruit.

A booster gave free food and drink at the booster’s restaurant that totaled between $200 and $600 in improper benefits.

Amazingly, none of the new allegations came from the draft night fallout from former offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil. A screenshot of texts between Tunsil and Assistant Athletic Director John Miller concerned Tunsil getting money from Barney Farrar to play his mother’s gas bill.

Rebels Athletic Director Ross Bjork said that the school agrees that the NCAA has enough evidence to prove three of the allegations. He said the university would fight the other charges, including the lack of institutional control and Freeze’s lack of monitoring the staff.

In response to the new allegations, the Rebels imposed one-year bowl ban for the 2017 season. UM will have to forfeit its share of SEC postseason revenue for the coming season, which could be $7.8 million or more.

UM has 90 days to respond to the new notice of allegations and will have a hearing, possibly this summer, with the Committee on Infractions to discuss penalties. The committee can accept the Rebels’ self-imposed sanctions of a loss of 11 total scholarships stretched from 2015 to 2018 and the bowl ban. ...

February 22, 2017

Mississippi State Continues to Rise

By bryanflynn

The Mississippi State women’s basketball team continues to rise up in the rankings. MSU made program history again, as the team is ranked No. 2 in the latest USA Today Coaches Poll.

The Bulldogs were No. 3 in the Associated Press Poll with the University of Maryland at No. 2 before the Terrapins fell 98-87 to Ohio State University on Feb. 20. The University of Connecticut is ranked No. 1 in both polls.

This is the 52nd week MSU has been in the polls and its 16th straight week in the top 10. The Bulldogs have been in the top five for the past 12 weeks.

The Huskies are on a 100-plus game-winning streak and the only undefeated team in the nation. MSU has the second-best overall record in the country at 27-1 and is the only team in the nation to have just one loss.

The University of South Carolina’s shocking 62-60 loss to the University of Missouri put the Bulldogs in first place in the SEC. MSU is certain to be one of the top two seeds when the conference tournament begins on March 3.

The NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Sport Committee has also named the Bulldogs the No. 2 overall seed. MSU was fourth in the first two rankings, but other teams’ losses have allowed the Bulldogs to climb up in the final poll before the bracket is released on March 13.

MSU will try to secure the top seed for the SEC Tournament over its next two games. The Bulldogs can capture a share of the conference title with a win this Thursday, Feb. 23, at No. 22, at least in the AP Poll, the University of Kentucky.

The Bulldogs against the Wildcats will stream on SECN+ with the tipoff scheduled at 6 p.m. A win at Kentucky will mean MSU can win the regular season outright in the season finale.

The Bulldogs will host the University of Tennessee on Sunday, Feb. 26, with the possible regular season title and the top seed in the conference tournament on the line. They will tipoff against the Volunteers at 4 p.m. ESPN2 will broadcast the game.

If MSU can win the SEC Tournament, it would be hard to see the team fall beyond one of the top three seeds.

By winning the tournament, MSU should stay at the No. 2 overall seed when the NCAA Division I Women’s Tournament starts on March 17. The higher MSU can rise in the top four overall seeds, the easier it should be to get in the Final Four, in theory.

February 22, 2017

Garoppolo to New Orleans If the Price Is Right

By bryanflynn

NFL teams try to balance between winning right now and winning in the future. It is hard to maintain, and the few teams are able to do it year in and year out.

One of those teams is the New England Patriots. The Super Bowl champions have been able to win titles and stockpile draft picks for nearly two decades in the Belichick-Brady era.

While New England is waiting to see if quarterback Tom Brady will ever slow down, the Patriots already have a quarterback that could help build the program’s future.

New England made Jimmy Garoppolo its first pick of the 2014 NFL Draft. Garoppolo was the 62nd overall pick out of Eastern Illinois University.

As Brady continues to bathe in the fountain of youth, the Patriots have to decide what to do about Garoppolo. It seems the answer will be to trade him to a team that makes the best deal.

One of the teams that should at least pick up the phone is the New Orleans Saints. It’s likely that the 2017-2018 season will be the final season that quarterback Drew Brees plays for New Orleans.

It would be a great idea for New Orleans to inquire about Garoppolo. If the Saints can swing the trade, he will have the chance to study under two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks.

The asking price is the question, as is what Garoppolo’s actually value is.

There isn’t a lot of NFL tape on the quarterback since he has spent most of his time in the league sitting behind Brady. In three NFL seasons, Garoppolo has played in 17 games with just two starts. He has thrown 94 passes with 63 completions with five touchdowns and zero interceptions.

He started two of the four games during which Brady was suspended at the beginning of this season. He played well in both games before an injury forced rookie Jacoby Brissett to take over at quarterback.

The small sample size of Garoppolo’s NFL experience makes it hard to judge what he is worth. New England has traded away quarterbacks who didn’t go on to have success elsewhere.

The Patriots traded Drew Bledsoe to the Buffalo Bills after the emergence of Brady. Bledsoe was at the end of his career and never did lead Buffalo to a Super Bowl.

Then, there was Matt Cassel, who took over for New England after a knee injury took Brady out for a season. The Patriots traded Cassell to the Kansas City Chiefs. He never turned into a star after leaving New England, and the Chiefs moved on from him.

Finally, there is Ryan Mallett, who the Patriots traded to the Houston Texans. Houston eventually released him, but he is currently playing for the Baltimore Ravens in a backup role.

Ultimately, it’s up to New Orleans to decide if Garoppolo is worth the sacrifice. Would the Saints best be served ...

February 22, 2017

NFL Combine Snubs

By bryanflynn

A list of the full 330 participants for the underwear olympics, also known as the 2017 NFL Combine, is official. The Southeastern Conference is sending the most players of any FBS conference with 66 players receiving an invite.

The ACC is second with 60 players receiving an invite. Third is the Big Ten with 51, and the Pac 12 is fourth with 46. Power Five conference the Big 12 will send just 19 players, and Group of Five conference the American Athletic Conference will send 18.

Right now, the Big 12, which didn’t want to expand, is the weakest Power Five conference and in danger of becoming the next Big East in the power group. Conference USA, Mountain West and Mid-American Conference will send 11 players each. The Sun Belt and FBS independent schools are sending five players each.

The University of Michigan leads all schools with 14 players heading to the combine. Louisiana State University and the University of Alabama are tied for second with 10 players each. LSU and Alabama are sending more players than the Big 12 conference as a whole

Texas A&M University, Clemson University and the University of Miami, Florida are third, with nine players heading to the event. The University of Mississippi is sending four players, and Mississippi State University is sending two.

The Rebels who are heading to the combine are wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo, defensive end Fadol Brown, tight end Evan Engram and defensive tackle D.J. Jones. MSU players are wide receiver Fred Ross and offensive tackle Justin Senior.

Receiving an invite to the combine is extremely helpful for players who hope to be drafted. Still, it doesn’t mean a player will be drafted. One hundred and seventeen players who participated in last year’s combine went undrafted.

While six players from two Mississippi universities are heading to the combine, several players didn’t get an invite. Some big names got left off the list.

Two quarterbacks ended up getting snubbed for the combine: Rebels quarterback Chad Kelly and the University of Southern Mississippi quarterback Nick Mullens.

Kelly injured his ACL and wouldn’t be able to workout, but teams could have interviewed him. He has some legal baggage from his past that might have been a factor him not going to the event.

Mullens didn’t have the same success his senior season that he did as a junior. A new coach and injuries kept him from being his best this season, but he didn’t have a terrible year.

Wide receiver Damore’ea Stringfellow won’t be joining his UM teammates at the Combine. He plead guilty to an assault charge in 2014 while he was a member of the University of Washington, which will keep him from going this year.

USM offensive lineman Cameron Tom ended his career as one of the best lineman in Conference USA but got snubbed. In fact, no draft-eligible players from ...

February 21, 2017

City Responds to Hinds County Emergency Declaration

By Todd Stauffer

According to WJTV the Hinds County Board of Supervisors voted today to declare a state of emergency in South Jackson to support work on a 48-inch water main; the work may require a significant time period of disrupted water service in the area.

February 20, 2017

ZDD Giveaways and Festival on Mar 25, but No Parade

By JFP_Events

Due to newly projected expenses not incurred in the past, important logistical decisions could not be made in a timely fashion, resulting in the cancellation of the annual nighttime parade.

February 17, 2017

SWAC, SEC and C-USA Preseason Baseball Predictions

By bryanflynn

There might still be a nip in the air, but this weekend will feel like spring to some in the state. Starting Friday, Feb. 17, college baseball makes its return, even if the weather is still a bit cold.

Last season three teams from our state reached the 2016 NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament. Hopefully, that success will carry over to this season, and more teams will reach the postseason.

Division I conferences have begun to release their preseason projected order of finish and preseason all-conference teams. All three Division I conferences with teams from out of state have made their preseason picks.

In the SEC last year, Mississippi State shocked the conference, as it won the SEC West, the SEC regular season championship and earned one of the eight national seeds. MSU won its Regional but runner-up University of Arizona ended up defeating the team in the Super Regional.

The University of Mississippi reached the postseason out of the SEC but lost its first two games in its regional, which got the team bounced from the tournament.

League coaches don’t believe the Bulldogs will repeat their performance from last season. MSU was picked to finish fourth in the SEC and picked as the seventh best team in the SEC.

The Rebels are picked ahead of MSU to finish third in the SEC West and sixth in the conference. Last season UM finished fourth in the SEC West behind MSU, Texas A&M University and Louisiana State University.

MSU placed two players on the preseason All-SEC teams with outfielders Jake Mangum on the first team and Brent Rooker on the second team. The Rebels placed two players on the second-team All-SEC, second baseman Tate Blackman and third baseman Colby Bortles.

The Bulldogs begin the season Friday, Feb. 17, at home against Texas Tech University. UM starts its 2017 season at home against East Carolina University on Friday, Feb. 17.

The University of Southern Mississippi finished in third place in the regular-season standings in Conference USA last season. USM won the C-USA Tournament, which got the conference automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, but the Golden Eagles lost in the Regional.

Coaches gave Southern Miss three first-place votes. But overall, the team was predicted to finish third in the conference. The Golden Eagles place three players on the preseason All-Conference team with pitcher Kirk McCarty and infielders Dylan Burdeaux and Taylor Braley earning the honors.

USM will start the 2017 season at home on Friday, Feb. 17, against Northeastern University.

Jackson State University finished second in the SWAC East with Alcorn State University in third place, and Mississippi Valley State University finished last in 2016. All three teams failed to reach the postseason when they didn’t win the SWAC Tournament and were in a one-bid league.

The Tigers are picked to finish second in the SWAC East and tied for second overall ...

February 17, 2017

NFL Teams Can Start Tagging Players

By bryanflynn

Now that Super Bowl LI is in the books, NFL teams are moving on to the offseason. Teams are already starting to cut players and starting Feb. 15, they began tagging players.

When NFL teams tag players, they have three options: non-exclusive franchise tag, exclusive franchise tag and transition tag. Teams have until March 1 to tag a player who is set to be an unrestricted free agent, and can use only one of the tags above each season on just one player. The player and team have until July 15 to reach an agreement on a long-term deal.

The non-exclusive tag is a one-year offer to a player with his salary being an average of the top five at his position over the last five years or 120 percent of the player’s previous salary, whichever is greater. The player who receives this tag can sign with another team, but his current one has the right to match the offer or receive two first-round draft picks as compensation for the player signing with a new team.

The exclusive tag is one-year offer to a player with his salary being an average of the top five at his position for the current year or 120 percent of the player’s previous salary, whichever is greater. The player under this tag can’t negotiate with other teams. Only the top players in the NFL ever get this tag, including New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

The transition tag is a one-year offer to a player with his salary being an average of the top 10 at his position. That player’s current team can match any offer to keep him but doesn’t receive any compensation for the person leaving.

Once a player signs his offer sheet for his franchise tag, his full salary is guaranteed for the season. The team can rescind the offer at anytime, as long as the player hasn’t signed the offer sheet. This happened last season when the Carolina Panthers rescinded cornerback Josh Norman’s tag.

Teams can’t use the tag on another player if they rescind the offer. It still counts as a player tagged. A player can only be tagged three times by his team, but with an increase in his salary each time he is tagged.

It is worth knowing that teams don’t have to tag any of their potential free agents, and players don’t typically want to be tagged because they want long-term deals with more guaranteed money.

Few teams are expected to use the franchise tag this year. For example, potential free agents for the Dallas Cowboys or the New Orleans Saints aren’t worthy of the major pay increase that comes with the use of the franchise tag.

A few estimates have franchised quarterbacks earning $21 million this season, defensive ends earning $17 million, wide receivers earning $16 million, and linebackers, cornerbacks, offensive linemen and defensive tackles earning $15 million. There is a bit ...

February 16, 2017

Women in Sports Day; Dak Prescott to Host a Football Camp

By bryanflynn

A couple of events are coming up that might be of interest to those with kids or who follow sports. The first event is next week, and the second will take place later this summer.

Next week, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame & Museum (1152 Lakeland Drive) is hosting Women in Sports Day on Feb. 24. This event, which starts at 10 a.m., has free admission and is a good educational field trip for middle school and high-school girls but is open to men and women of all ages.

Mississippi native and first female NFL official Sarah Thomas will be the special guest and speaker at the event. It will have interactive discussions on topics such as nutrition, health, hard work and more.

It has limited space, and reservations are required to attend the event. Students should dress for activity, including wear tennis shoes.

BlueCross BlueShield of Mississippi is the title sponsor of this event. To make reservations, call 601-982-8264.

This summer, reigning NFL Rookie of the Year Dak Prescott is returning to Mississippi State University to host a one-day camp at the university.

The Dak Prescott Football ProCamp will be on June 20 at Mississippi State University (100 Championship Way, Starkville). The camp begins at 9 a.m. and lasts until 12:30 p.m.

Prescott and volunteer coaches from the high school and college-coaching ranks will give tips, lectures and hands-on coaching. Participants will take part in fundamental-football-skills stations, contests and noncontact games in a high energy and positive environment.

The camp is open to boys and girls from first through eighth grades. Campers will be placed in small groups by age so each participant gets the most out of instructions from the coaches. This camp for all skill levels, from players who are new to the game to those have been playing for years.

Each camper will get a souvenir autograph from Prescott. The item will be provided, and no outside items are allowed. Campers get a team photo with Prescott and a limited edition Dak Prescott Football ProCamp T-shirt.

Individual and team groups at each age group will receive awards. Sponsors of the event include Adidas, Wilson, Citi, Welch’s Fruit Snacks and Pronto Print.

The time and date of the camp is subject to change, and the cost is $149.

Prescott will also host a one-day camp in Shreveport, La. on June 22 and a two-day camp in Dallas, Texas on June 24 and 25.

February 16, 2017

Men’s Basketball Rule Changes Incoming

By bryanflynn

The NCAA announced two rule changes for the men’s 2017 Postseason National Invitation Tournament. Those rule changes will make the NIT different from the Division I Men’s NCAA Tournament.

Fouls will be reset after 10 minutes of play each half, and the league will eliminate the one-and-one bonus free-throw opportunity. After a team commits four fouls, every successive foul will allow the opposing team to shoot two free throws until fouls reset.

In overtime, teams that commit more than three fouls will award their opponents with two free throws for each foul.

Technical fouls won’t count toward those numbers. Resetting the fouls will mimic how the game would work with four 10-minute quarters instead of two 20-minute halves.

The women’s game switched from two 20-minute halves just before the start of the 2015-2016 season. Olympic basketball, high-school basketball and the NBA play four quarters, so moving the men’s game to four quarters puts it in line with the rest of basketball. Of course, the length of the quarters is different for each level of play.

The other rule change is that the shot clock will stay the same or reset to 20 seconds, whichever is greater, after the defense commits a foul and a team inbounds the ball to the frontcourt. This rule change is to give each team more possessions. The shot clock used to reset to 30 seconds after defensive fouls.

The idea is that with more possessions, teams should score more points. As teams shoot more three-point shots, changing the shot clock might not actually increase scoring that much, though.

Personally, I like the idea of the men’s game playing four quarters. Each season, I watch more and more women’s basketball because it seems like the flow of the game is faster and smoother than it is for the men.

The NCAA should just go all in and make the NIT four quarters and see how the games play out. Between that and the foul changes, coaches will have to alter their decisions and late-game strategy.

If they’re discussing rule changes, can the NCAA Tournament exclude teams that don’t finish .500 or better in conference play? In the ESPN and Sports Illustrated bubble watch, there are several teams from major basketball conferences that could make the tournament with losing conference records.

Teams shouldn’t be rewarded for being worse than mediocre in their own conference. Playing in a tough basketball conference shouldn’t mean you get in the tournament if you can’t finish .500 in the league.

There are plenty of mid-major conferences with teams that finish above .500 in conference play, but the major conferences including the ACC, Big East and Big 12, that are getting shorted because of that rule.

Instead, reward those mid-major conferences with more bids. The field is 68 teams, but the major conferences get over-rewarded with bids and take up half the field. Those major conferences get bids that they ...

February 14, 2017

Four Mississippi Firms Awarded Continental Contracts

By adreher

Continental Tire awarded four Mississippi-based firms contracts to work on the construction of the Hinds County tire plant and training center, which will be located off of Interstate-20 just outside of Clinton.

Three firms, Jackson-based McCarty Architects, Clinton-based WGK Engineers and Tupelo-based Corbett Legge & Associates Engineering, were awarded 30 percent of the design contract for Continental’s training center, which is expected to begin in July 2017.

“We are thrilled to help Continental Tire make their vision of a new training facility a reality,” Kurt Shettles, McCarty Architects President & CEO, said in a press release. “Our previous experience with training facilities and automotive related projects gives us an opportunity to use that expertise to help make this project the best that it can be for our community and state.”

Jackson-based firm, Sol Engineering, was awarded a portion of the engineering design and program management contract for Continental’s tire plant.

For contracting information or updates visit www.mississippi.org/continental.

February 13, 2017

UConn Looks for 100th Straight Win

By bryanflynn

College-basketball fans are in for a treat tonight, Feb. 13, as the No. 1-ranked women’s team, the University of Connecticut, hosts the No. 6-ranked University of South Carolina. This game is a possible Final Four preview with March just around the corner.

The South Carolina Gamecocks enters the matchup with a 21-2 overall record and a 9-1 record on the road, and the Huskies enter with a 24-0 overall record and 11-0 record at home, with a 60- home-game winning streak.

One more thing: UConn is also on a 99-game winning streak overall. A victory against the Gamecocks would bring the Huskies to their 100th win in a row.

UConn’s 99 consecutive wins surpassed the school’s previous record of 90 wins from 2008 to 2010. The Huskies own two of the top-three winning streaks in Division I history, with the University of California, Los Angeles men’s team in third place with 88 wins from 1971 to 1974.

Winning 100 games is hard at any level, and every team that the Huskies face gives them its best shot. UConn blows out most of the teams it plays, but those teams come in looking to make history by winning. UConn hasn’t lost a game since a double-overtime to Stanford University on Nov. 17, 2014.

Even Mississippi State University is a part of the streak. UConn defeated MSU 98-38 in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. The victory sparked more commentary on whether the Huskies are bad for women’s college basketball.

If UConn is able to win tonight, the 100th victory will likely result in the same kind of debate. UConn wins year in and year out, but at the very least, the Huskies bring attention to the women’s game. South Carolina beating the Huskies would be a huge story. It would make the women’s NCAA Tournament more interesting, as some would tune in to see if another team could knock off the Huskies.

If the Gamecocks win, it will make for huge ratings for a Final Four or National Championship Game, but if UConn wins, it isn’t bad for women’s college basketball. UCLA didn’t ruin the men’s game with its winning streak in the ’70s, and UConn isn’t destroying the women’s game now.

The Huskies are making every team that wants to win a title pick up its game. Teams practice harder, run drills longer, shoot more shots in practice, and work more on dribbling, free throws and every part of their game. Opposing coaches and players known they will make history by being the team that beats the Huskies.

But history is getting made one way or another tonight. Either South Carolina breaks UConn’s winning streak, or the Huskies win for the 100th time in a row. As viewers, we all win.

Tune in to ESPN2 at 8 p.m.

February 10, 2017

MDAH Names Leadership Team for 2 Mississippi Museums

By amber_helsel

MDAH has now announced the leadership team for 2 Mississippi Museums, which will encompass the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the Museum of Mississippi History.

The Arts Blog

February 9, 2017

Rankine Lecture Postponed, Panel at Millsaps

By micah_smith

Poet and playwright Claudia Rankine has postponed her lecture at Millsaps College due to inclement weather in New York. The 2016 McArthur fellow and Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry at Yale University, was scheduled to speak on her book, "Citizen."

February 9, 2017

Baylor Shows Dark Side of Doing Anything to Win

By bryanflynn

It is easy to say that Baylor University is a prime example of what is bad about college sports. The university is a textbook example of how the win-at-all-cost approach can lead an institution of higher learning into selling its morals for wins.

A major sexual-assault scandal broke out at Baylor with police arresting defensive end Tevin Elliott for rape charges in 2012 and his conviction in 2014. New information shows that then-head coach Art Briles helped Elliott stay on campus.

Elliott was accused of a second count of plagiarism that would have him suspended from the university and ineligible for the 2011 season. He missed an April 2011 deadline to appeal, but Briles personally got involved to help Elliott get an appeal.

Briles sent an email to then-university President Ken Starr about overturning the suspension, which Starr did, allowing Elliott to stay in school and on the team.

Briles, Starr and assistant coaches continued to hide or fix problems that Elliott had in missing classes, meaning those in charge at Baylor helped Elliott stay on campus, where he ended up raping a woman.

Elliott isn’t the only case at Baylor. Repeatedly, the coaches and even the Waco Police Department buried reports of players’ misbehavior. Recent reports show that the coaches tried to get people who Baylor football players had victimized not to press charges or report incidents.

A Title IX lawsuit from one woman alleges that from 2011 to 2014, at least 31 players committed 52 sexual assaults. Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton revealed in a report that 17 women reported sexual assault or domestic violence from 19 players, including four gang rapes.

The scandal eventually took down Starr, Briles, assistant coaches and others in positions of leadership. Those in power did nearly everything possible to keep players from being arrested or charged with crimes, and tried to hinder the work of Title IX coordinator Patty Crawford.

Baylor isn’t a program that traditionally won a ton of games, and the last bowl game before the university hired Briles in 2008 was in 1994. The school’s last winning record before Briles was in 1995.

Under Briles, Baylor won 10 games in a season four times, and before him, it had won 10 games just once in program history. There is no question of whether Briles could recruit and coach, but when it came down to integrity and morality, he failed as a leader.

Winning mattered more at Baylor than players committing physical and sexual assault. Another recent lawsuit alleges that regents in a meeting with Baylor alumni and donors on why they couldn’t keep Briles and other involved in the scandals because they “didn’t uphold with the mission of the university.”

One donor is quoted as saying in the same meeting: “If you mention Baylor’s mission one more time, I’m (going to) throw up. … I was promised a national championship.”

The NCAA ...

February 9, 2017

Hal's St. Paddy's Parade Announcement

By amber_helsel

Here are more details on Hal's St. Paddy's Parade & Festival on March 18.

February 8, 2017

MSU Makes History with No. 3 Ranking

By bryanflynn

Making history is becoming the norm for the Mississippi State University Women’s Basketball Team. After climbing to a historic No. 4 ranking in both the Associated Press and the USA Today Coaches Poll, the Bulldogs made more history on Tuesday, Feb. 8.

MSU climbed to No. 3 in the USA Today Coaches Poll for the first time in program history, which set a school record. The Bulldogs moved back up to their No. 4 ranking in the Associated Press Poll.

After a 64-61 loss at the University of South Carolina, MSU dropped to No. 5 in both polls. MSU is on a three-game winning streak since they dropped their first game of the season to the Gamecocks and are rising back up the polls.

MSU has been in the top 5 of the rankings for 10 weeks and is currently half a game behind South Carolina for No. 1 in the SEC. MSU is a game and a half ahead of No. 3 Texas A&M University.

The Bulldogs learned Monday, Feb. 6, that the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship Sport Committee still has MSU as one of its top four teams. MSU is No. 4 in the latest top-16 seeding order.

The University of Connecticut is No.1, Baylor University is No. 2 and South Carolina is No. 3 in the second of three peaks at the potential bracket. Connecticut and South Carolina are scheduled to play on Feb.13 at UConn. The outcome of that game could help the Bulldogs rise up in the seedings.

MSU seems to be a lock for one of the four national seeds and has the home-court advantage that goes along with being a top seed. The Bulldogs must avoid an Atlanta Falcons-like collapse over the final six regular-season games and in the SEC Tournament.

In a 70-53 win against the University of Missouri, the seniors on this team won their 100th game. MSU senior forward Breanna Richardson scored her 1,000th career point in the win over the Tigers. That moved the Bulldogs to 23-1 overall and 9-1 in SEC play as the regular season starts to wind down.

Bulldogs’ junior guard Morgan William is one of the 19 players in the nation on the Dawn Staley Award watch list. The Dawn Staley award goes to the top guard in the nation who shows ball handling, scoring, ability to distribute the ball, and the will to win like Staley did during her college career.

William leads the team in assists with 4.6 per game and steals with two per game. She is second on the team in scoring with 10 points per game.

MSU is back in action on Thursday night at 8 p.m. as it hosts Vanderbilt University on the SEC Network as the team looks to continue rewriting the record book.

February 8, 2017

Dak Named Rookie of the Year and More

By bryanflynn

Before the focus on the NFL shifts from the regular season to the offseason, we should discuss a few things that happened before Super Bowl LI and going forward to the NFL Combine.

If you missed it, Saturday night, Feb. 4, which was the night before the Super Bowl, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was named Associated Press NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year at the NFL Honors ceremony. On Friday, Feb. 3, he was named Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year. His coach, Jason Garrett, won AP NFL Coach of the Year.

Dallas thought Prescott would end up sitting out this year and learning behind veterans Tony Romo and Kellen Moore. Instead, Moore broke a bone in his leg in practice to move to second string, and early in the preseason, Romo injured his back making Prescott the starter. All the rookie from Mississippi State did was lead the Cowboys to the best record in the NFC and playoffs.

Prescott is the first Dallas player to win the award since Emmitt Smith in 1990. Smith went on to become the NFL’s all-time leading rusher and helped the Cowboys win three Super Bowls.

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott finished second in the voting. Prescott thanked the 31 teams that passed on him and wished he could cut the award in half to share with Elliott.

Prescott now has to follow up his amazing rookie season with more of the same in 2017. He won’t be under the radar, and everyone will look to see if he has a sophomore slump.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan won Associated Press Offensive Player of the Year and NFL MVP but continued the trend of NFL MVPs losing the Super Bowl. Ryan’s offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan won AP Assistant Coach of the Year.

San Diego Chargers linebacker Joey Bosa won AP Defensive Rookie of the Year and Green Bay Packer wide receiver Jordy Nelson was named AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year after recovering from a knee injury. Oakland Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack was named AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

The NFL honored its past on Super Bowl weekend. During the NFL Honors, the 2017 NFL Hall of Fame Class was announced. Long-time New Orleans Saints kicker Morten Andersen was voted into the hall.

Andersen was one of the Saints’ biggest offensive weapons in the 1980s and 1990s and is the leading scorer in NFL, New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons history. He is just the second player to make the hall strictly as a kicker. The first is Jan Stenerud.

In Andersen’s 25 seasons in the NFL, he played in 325 games, which is also a NFL record, while playing for five teams and racked up 2,544 points. He is one of the first kickers to make 40- and 50-yard field goals look easy.

Joining Andersen in the hall is St. Louis Rams quarterback Kurt Warner, Miami Dolphins defensive end ...

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