Top 10 Days In Sports, 2006 | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Top 10 Days In Sports, 2006

Jan. 17: Mississippi State basketball coach Rick Stansbury kicks Walter Sharpe off the team.

Walter Sharpe was a highly touted recruit out of Birmingham, Ala.—so highly touted that the NCAA investigated MSU for alleged rules violations in the recruitment of Sharpe and Mario Austin, another former Alabama prep. Sharpe played in 23 games as a freshman. He ran into trouble off the court, missing a team flight to California and missing the Bulldogs' game in the NCAA Tournament. He talked about transferring but returned to State for his sophomore season. Sharpe played in six games before coach Rick Stansbury got rid of him for good. Sharpe later transferred to Alabama-Birmingham.

Feb. 1: Quarterback Brent Schaeffer signs with Ole Miss and is immediately declared the starter by coach Ed Orgeron.

Brent Schaeffer was no stranger to the SEC. He signed out of high school with Tennessee, and started the first three games of his freshman season in 2004. He got kicked out of school for punching another student. After signing with Ole Miss, he kept the Rebel Nation in suspense all summer as it took him longer than expected to graduate from junior college. He finally arrived in Oxford shortly before the start of preseason practice. Schaeffer had an up-and-down season and was yanked from the LSU game. Schaeffer kept his starting job and led the Rebels to victory against Mississippi State in the season finale. After the season was over, coach Ed Orgeron said Schaeffer and backup Seth Adams would compete to see who will be the Rebs' starting quarterback in 2007.

March 3: Ole Miss fires basketball coach Rod Barnes.

After three straight losing seasons, the Rebels appeared to have turned things around in Rod Barnes' eighth season. Ole Miss started 13-3, including a 3-0 record in the SEC. Then the Rebels collapsed, finishing 14-15, 4-2. Barnes left with a 141-109 record and three NCAA Tournament appearances. Andy Kennedy, a Louisville, Miss., native and former Cincinnati interim coach, became Ole Miss' 20th basketball coach on March 24. Kennedy has put a more entertaining brand of basketball on the court, even though he says his current players aren't really suited to play it.

May 28: Ole Miss wins the SEC Baseball Tournament by defeating Vanderbilt 9-3 in Hoover, Ala.

Ole Miss won its first SEC tourney title on its way to a 44-22 record. But the Rebels fell short of reaching the College World Series, losing at home in the NCAA Super Regionals for the second straight year. There was much speculation that Bianco would leave to coach LSU, his alma mater. Instead, he remained in Oxford, receiving a one-year contract extension.

Aug. 26: The New Orleans Saints conclude their training camp at Millsaps by playing the Indianapolis Colts in a preseason game at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium.

First-year Saints coach wanted to take the team out of town for his first training camp. The team set up camp at Millsaps, where the only complaint from players was about the heat. But the game was an on-field disaster for the Saints as Peyton Manning and the Colts jumped to a 24-7 lead before settling for a 27-14 victory. Off the field, the game was a disaster for Memorial Stadium. Many in the crowd of 55,000-plus didn't reach their seats until after halftime due to a major traffic jam and the stadium only opening two gates for spectators, where they had to be screened by security. There's been no word on whether the Saints will return to Millsaps in 2007.

Aug. 31: Mississippi State quarterback Mike Henig is injured in the first half of the Bulldogs' season opener.

The Bulldogs' third season under coach Sylvester Croom fall apart when quarterback Mike Henig suffered a broken collarbone in State's season opener against South Carolina. The Bulldogs wouldn't score a point until the third game of the season against Tulane when former starting QB Omarr Conner, who had been moved to receiver, replaced Tray Rutland under center. Both Conner and Rutland suffered injuries against West Virginia on Oct. 7. Rutland's injury knocked him out for the season, and Conner's injury was expected to end his MSU career. Having returned and played in the next five games, only to break his collarbone again against Arkansas. Conner, who was still not 100 percent, showed a lot of guts by returning to start against Ole Miss.

Sept. 2: Jackson State defeats Paul Quinn 44-20 in Rick Comegy's first game as Tigers football coach.

When James Bell was fired after going 8-23 in three seasons, JSU brought in Rick Comegy, who had achieved great success at Tuskegee Institute. Comegy made JSU football matter again by leading the Tigers to five victories in their first six games. But the Tigers folded down the stretch, losing four of their last five.

Sept. 10: Deuce McAllister plays his first game for the New Orleans Saints in almost a year.

Running back Deuce McAllister missed the final 11 games of the 2005 season after suffering a knee injury. Many wondered whether the Saints' all-time leading rusher would have a place with the team after New Orleans drafted Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush. Against the Cleveland Browns, McAllister carried the ball 22 times for 90 yards. He was only getting started and seemed to be stronger than ever. McAllister's resurgence opened the door for Bush to contribute more to one of the NFL's best offenses as the season went along.

Nov. 12: Delta State and Millsaps earn berths in the NCAA football playoffs.

Delta State returned to the Division II playoffs for the first time since winning the championship in 2000. The Statesmen won two games on the road (both in North Carolina) before losing to Grand Valley State, which went on to win its second straight national title. The Statesmen got there thanks to quarterback Scott Eyster, the first four-time Conerly Trophy finalist.

Millsaps, in its first season under coach Mike DuBose, won seven straight games to claim the SCAC title and went to the Division III playoffs for the first time since 1980. The Majors lost to Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh.

Nov. 13: Jason Campbell is named the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins.

Jason Campbell, a Taylorsville native, hadn't even been active for the first 27 games of his NFL career, never mind playing a down in a regular-season game. But with the Redskins' playoff hopes dead, coach Joe Gibbs replaced the fading Mark Brunell with Campbell. In his fifth start, Campbell silenced a sellout crowd at the Superdome by leading the Redskins to a stunning upset of the New Orleans Saints, 16-10, on Dec. 17. The Saints won the NFC South title anyway, but the Redskins were the only ones partying afterward.

See Doc's Sportsblog at jacksonfreepress.com

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