Even with knowing our bowl game and without a game to look forward to this weekend, the past week proved to be a pretty busy one in the world of Mississippi State athletics. We talked about most of the events when they happened this week, but for the sake of recappage (and giving you time to drink your coffee), let's take a look back at all the news and noteworthy items from this week in MSU and national sports as well.
- Without a doubt the biggest news this week was MSU's own Johnthan Banks winning the 2012 Jim Thorpe Award. The award is given annually to college football's best defensive back, and this year Banks took home the award over fellow finalists Dee Milliner (Alabama) and Phillip Thomas (Fresno State). This award carries significance not only for Banks, but for State and the State of Mississippi as well. Banks is the first player in MSU's history to win one of college football's major award. He is the second finalist for the Thorpe in MSU's history, as Fred Smoot was a finalist in 2000. As we touched on, the award is a proud achievement for not only Banks, but those who have worked with him at State and helped him develop along the way. Extremely proud of him as a State fan, and thankful for all that he has done for the university. We wish him all the best in the NFL.
- In addition to winning the Thorpe on Thursday night, Banks was also named a Walter Camp first team All-American by the Walter Camp Football Foundation. Big, big honor. Banks is the first Mississippi-born player to be named to the team in over a decade, according to MSU stats guru Kyle Nibblet.
- We gave you the footage yesterday of Dan Mullen addressing the media at the Gator Bowl Press Conference in Jacksonville, and today, Mullen again talked with the media regarding State's bowl game. This chat was more informal, and Dan discussed how MSU will handle bowl prep, who will get more reps, what he expects to see out of certain players, and more. Here's the video:
- If you are looking for a recap of what all Mullen covered in the chat, head over and check out Brandon Marcello's recap of the presser.
- One of the things that Dan Mullen discussed in his press conference was junior players testing the NFL draft waters, or at least exploring options. Mullen said that juniors Gabe Jackson and Nickoe Whitley will submit the paperwork to the NFL advisory board to gain feedback on their draft stock. Gabe already hinted on twitter that he would do so, and many expected Whitley to do so as well. Junior LaDarius Perkins also stated that he will submit paperwork as well, but only out of curiosity. Perkins says that he will definitely be back at MSU next year.
- More All-American namings for State players, as Johnthan Banks (1st) and Gabe Jackson (2nd) were named to the FoxSportsNext.com All-American team.
- Those two weren't the only ones who were named All-American yesterday, as Bernardrick McKinney was named to the Scout freshmen All-American team.
- Hard to believe that MSU baseball will kick back off in just 10 weeks from today. I imagine you all are as hopeful as I am that this year's team will be something special.
- As baseball season nears, its always good to see one of your assistant coaches named one of the nation's best, as MSU's Butch Thompson was by Perfect Game's Kendall Rogers this week. Butch certainly proved his worth last year as MSU featured one of the NCAA's best staff ERA's at 2.52. (h/t @MsStateBaseball for the find)
- Bowl Ticket Update: the school announced earlier this week that its allotment of for Club and VIP seating has been exhausted. Lower and upper level tickets do remain. This seems like a good place for this link as well, where Bob Carskadon discuses the importance of buying bowl tickets through the school. Really good and informative read from Bob there. I would suggest you take a few minutes to read it, and make sure you buy your bowl game tickets through the school if you are fortunate enough to go.
Around the Nation
- Even if nothing would have been going on in the world of MSU sports this week, you could have still had plenty to be entertained by if you followed the coaching searches that culminated in hires this week. The coaching search season, or as Bruce Feldman calls it, the "silly season", is never disappointing, and typically never lacks drama and rumors galore. This year hasn't disappointed either, as we've heard whispers of "Gruden to Tennessee", "Petersen to Arkansas", "Strong to Auburn", and about 9,000 other rumors that weren't verified by anyone other than the fanbases that embraced them. But when the dust settled, Arkansas, Auburn, and Tennessee, as well as other programs around the nation, did find their coaches, even if two weren't who we might have expected.
- Auburn was probably the most "saw it coming" hire of the bunch, as the Tigers flirted with many a coach, but eventually "settled" on former offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn. Malzahn had been gone for just one season as the head coach at Arkansas State, and returned to the plains this week to lead the program as many expected he would one day. I personally think this is a good fit for the Tigers, especially in the short term. Malzahn had been gone from Auburn for less than 48 months, and many of the players at the school are one he recruited. He should be able to, at least offensively, pick up where he left off, as many players there fit the system that he runs. Malzahn also made an outstanding hire this week grabbing former USM head coach Ellis Johnson as his defensive coordinator. Johnson was one several team's wish list as DC after he was relieved in Hattiesburg, and will make for a great DC in the SEC: a place where he already has two coaching stops.
- Arkansas, to me, was the most surprising hire of this past week. Razorback AD Jeff Long played the search close to the vest, and really nothing outside of message board rumors were revealed up until he hired Wisconsin coach Brett Bielema on Wednesday. What is fun about the silly season in the twitter age is that people will run with just about anything and take it as gospel. We saw rumors that Chris Petersen was a done deal to Arkansas; we saw that Mike Gundy was a done deal to Arkansas. Even before Tennessee had the twinkle in their eye, Arkansas fans were dreaming of John Gruden: a dream that culminated in nothing but heartbreak for both fanbases. But in the end, when the rumors and speculation subsided and all that was left standing was Brett Bielema, I think Arkansas made a good hire. Rest assured, Bielema has a great deal to prove in the SEC. Bielema has strong record at Wisconsin, but if you look closer, it seemed that he feasted on the weaker conference teams. Will he be able to recruit in the SEC? Will his success at UW translate into success here in the SEC? Only time will truly tell, but I do feel like Bielema will have success in the natural state.
- The coaching search that hands down featured the most public drama was the Tennessee coaching search. Derek Dooley's seat wasn't even cold in the field house before UT fans began their dreams of a team coached by John Gruden. No one gave them any indication that Gruden was interested. Nope, it appears that those fantasies were concocted by the fanbase themselves, and then quickly went from fantasies to convincing themselves that he was coming. What followed was the inevitable downfall, which was followed by two very public rejections from coaches that were not going anywhere in the first place. It's not that no one wanted the UT job, it's just that Tennessee openly pursued very good candidates who were in the very worse situations to leave. Gundy is a lifer at Oklahoma State; He is an alumnus and has the nation's most notorious booster in his back pocket. Strong is very tied to Louisville because of the opportunity they gave him that others would not, and by the pocketbook of Papa John himself. In the end, the Volunteers hired Cincinnati's Butch Jones: a man who, just hours before, had nearly signed the dotted line with Colorado, but the timing played just right for him to take a better job. Jones, by all appearances, is a good coach, and a stark contrast from Derek Dooley: something Tennessee fans certainly wanted in their new coach. Although many in their fanbase will be unabashedly harsh on Jones, many see that he is a good coach, and one that could flourish in a school rich with cash and hopes for the future. If you haven't already, might I suggest that you check out two reads on the UT job: one serious and informative, and one just plain funny. The first is from SBNation's Spencer Hall, who writes directly to UT fans in the most logical post I read about the UT hiring process anywhere. The other is far from logical: a post concocted by SBNation's Jason Kirk, where UT fans grade the hires of other programs this winter. Both great reads and definitely worth your time.
- A few more coaching searches can to a conclusion this week as well, as California hired Louisiana Tech's Sonny Dykes, Purdue hired Kent State's Darrell Hazell, and SSouth Florida hires Western Kentucky's Willie Taggert. Poor Colorado: just a few days ago, they were within inches seemingly of signing Butch Jones and moving forward. Now they sit back at square one, looking for a coach while trying to pretend that the situation isn't as ugly as it is.
- Even if you don't follow coaching searches, it's always best to follow LSUFreek and see his reactions once coaches have been named. Here's a good one from him on Butch Jones to Tennessee. Some other good ones that popped up this week: the latest coach to turn down Tennessee, and Brett Bielema "in the flesh", quite literally, via Reddit.
- One of the more interesting and bizarre stories to come up this week was that from Bruce Feldman on the family feud between CoachingSearch.com and FootballScoop.com. I had heard of both sites, and follow both on Twitter, but I did not realize that they were run by brothers, who apparently do not get along. Definitely an interesting read.
- Another interesting read from this week was also from CBS, on how there is a double standard in the college football coaching search hiring and firing world. I agree with a good bit of what the agents are saying. Essentially, they say that when a coach leaves, he is labeled to have bad character, and is slandered heavily. But when a school decides to fire a coach after a short time, they are praised. If nothing, it reminds you to always remember that for coaches, it's a business, and they have to make business decisions. Definitely another good read.
- One interesting point to note for State fans from the coaching search this past week was Mike Gundy's decision to stay at Oklahoma State. It was heavily rumored that Gundy was a candidate at both Tennessee and Arkansas. At one point this past week, there were reports that he was to be named the Arkansas head coach, about an hour before we finally found out that it would be Brett Bielema. Why it was important to watch for State fans is because MSU opens with Oklahoma State next season. I don't think any State fan would have been sad to see him go, as the Cowboys would have been starting a new system under a new coach with us as their first opponents. As it stands though, we will get Gundy and the full cast of what should be a very talented OSU team next season in Houston.
- Another week passed by, and another week gone where the NHL players and management can't agree on a new deal. I can't say I'm sad about it.
- This is really cool: a map of where every player on the Army and Navy rosters are from.
Non-Sports Links and Things
- The Alabama Shakes's 'Hold On' was named the best song of 2012 by Rolling Stone. Have to admit I love this song and the Shakes, and can't much argue with it being high on the list, but I can think of others I would have put at #1.
- The sleeping english bulldog puppy is basically the cutest thing you'll see this week.
- Earlier this week my buddy and FWtCT contributor Braden Bishop released his top 25 Christmas movie list. I agreed with most of the list, although I felt The Holiday was wrongfully omitted, as was Family Stone. Although some may find those two choices girly in nature, I will not apologize for liking them. HATERS GONNA HATE. What are your favorite Christmas movies? Definitely think Braden got 'It's a Wonderful Life' as the right choice for #1. A true American classic.
- If you love The Office, then you will certainly love this.
- If I had a Christmas card, it would basically just be this.
- You may or may not know this from reading the blog, but I am a big movie guy. I love them. And one that I have been excited about seeing for awhile now comes out this weekend, The Hobbit. Some (Metal Building Dawg) will call me a nerd, but I love the LOTR series, and am hoping that The Hobbit lives up to the buzz that it has gotten so far.
- I'm sure you are all getting ready to head out any do some Christmas shopping, or just head over to the computer and fire up Amazon. Anything big you are looking to get/give this year?
That is it folks. Hope you all have a great rest of the weekend, and hope your shopping goes well!