In recent years here at For Whom the Cowbell Tolls our writers have used a feature post called Cowbell Collective. The idea behind Cowbell Collective is to gather the thoughts of most of the writers into one place on various topics happening in Mississippi State sports, around campus, Mississippi, or just in life in general. Myself, The Croom Diaries, Justin Sutton and Co. look to revive this feature post to bring to you all of our thoughts in one place. The topics will vary from week to week, but it will be a good chance for you to see what we all think on subjects rather than what you're used to seeing with us posting thoughts individually. We hope you enjoy, and we hope you have a great weekend. #HailState
As we began this gathering thoughts for this post PRIOR to Wednesday night's victory over South Carolina in basketball, we erred on the side of caution and chose to discuss more savory topics going on in and around Mississippi State sports this week. Here's what we're thinking about baseball, spring football, and a good spring beer.
Collection 1: With State starting 6-1 (prior to Wed.'s L to Mem.) in baseball, would you say you expected this start or have been surprised with their success so far?
justinrsutton: I expected to Mississippi State to get off to a fast start with their schedule this year, but I am a little bit surprised by the 6-1 start. The Bulldogs had enough questions coming into the season that you might have expected a few close losses early, but they have avoided those for the most part. They are 3-1 in one run games, with the only loss coming in an extra innings loss to Washington State.
I still think you have to keep it all in perspective right now. Two wins came over Mississippi Valley State, a program that I believe is 0-22 against the Bulldogs. Kansas and Washington State are two teams trying to work their way back to the tournament. Still, 6-1 is a fantastic start, and I think this team is well on their way to a successful season.
The Croom Diaries: I would say I expected something along those lines. I am surprised at just how good the pitching has been, and that is good to see because I can't remember the last time we really had a top notch pitching staff.
thecristilmethod: I wouldn't say I'm surprised with this start. This team boasts a lot of talent and although they haven't played the toughest schedule so far, I think that was necessary to help break in such a young hitting lineup. I also think it's been great for this team to have to battle and especially battling from behind in several games already. It helps grow a young team and helps prepare them for the gauntlet that is SEC baseball.
Collection 2: Which Diamond Dog newcomer has impressed you the most so far?
justinrsutton: Well, you can't call him a newcomer because he has been a part of the squad before, but Ben Bracewell had an awesome return to the mound to open the season against Washington State. I think Johnathan Holder has major potential to impress. He is a great pitcher from Gulfport, and I saw him an an amazing duel last year against Biloxi. He thrives in big time games. So far this year, Holder has three appearances (before the Jackson State game) and has three strike outs and a save in three innings of work. I could also toss Wes Rea, the redshirt freshman, and the junior college transfer Trey Porter out there as well.
The Croom Diaries: Trey Porter without a doubt. He's hitting .423 with 2 HR and 6 RBI. I didn't even figure he'd be a starter going into the season.
thecristilmethod: Wes Rea, in a big way (no big guy joke intended). Wes is a Fr., albeit a redshirt and I really have been impressed with his transition to the college level so far. It goes without saying, but Wes is going to be a natural power guy. We've seen already how much he can do with a pitch even when he's not trying to do much with it. I think the biggest key to his success throughout the rest of this season and on into the future is his abiliy to harness that power and not be just a fly-ball guy, but drive the ball to all fields. He has a chance to be the clean up hitter on this team for 2-3 seasons and I am hoping he will take full advantage of that.
Collection 3: With spring football practice starting soon, which bulldog are you most looking forward to seeing for the first time or maybe first time in a lead role?
justinrsutton: As far as old faces in new roles, I want to see what Tyler Russell does the number one going into the spring. I want to see how Dak Prescott pushes and challenges him for the starting role. I'm interested in seeing if Ladarrius Perkins can be the all around feature back for the Bulldogs, and I want to see which of the new faces on the defensive line can make the impact that Fletcher Cox did last year.
The Croom Diaries: Charles Siddoway. The O line is the biggest concern going into next season and I think he's the one guy who can come in and make an impact. If he proves to be a solid lineman we might be alright, if not we could be in trouble.
thecristilmethod: I'm ready mostly to see Joe Morrow. Coach Mullen has improved this team dramatically in his short time already on campus, but he has yet to have that go-to, Alshon Jeffrey-type receiver in this offense. And Joe may be one of the few WR's we've had in years that stands above 6'2". I look forward to seeing what he can do and hopefully seeing Tyler Russell throw him some tight spirals.
Collection 4: What are your thoughts on State's innovative spring football game and concert combination? If you don't care for it, tell us what you'd do differently as AD?
justinrsutton: I applaud Scott Stricklin and company for trying something new. I think you always have to look at that, but this fell flat on its face. The fan reception was lukewarm, at best. For many reasons, the MSU Spring Game has never been like the Alabama Spring Game in Tuscaloosa, and it probably never will be. Over there, people shell out money to go see a game, and in Starkville, Davis Wade Stadium has plenty of open seats during the Spring Game.
There are very few acts that can be coupled with a football game that most fans will enjoy. No one feels like they are going to the Spring Game for free and paying for a concert. Most feel like they are paying for the Spring Game. The two events need to be separated. They should let fans attend the Spring Game for free, clear out the stadium, and then start the concert that night. Oh, and get someone like Bon Jovi instead of Sugarland (pipedream, I know).
That said, it could have been a vocal minority causing the uproar, but I just don't know. If they have less than 30-35,000 people at the game, they have to reconsider it. I love the effort. I think if the Spring Game was free and the concert was an extra ticket later, this would have had much better reception. However, I am not so sure Sugarland would commit to a booking if done that way.
The Croom Diaries: I do not like it at all, I think it is a horrible idea. The main reason is that I think the athletic department is catering to Sugarland fans instead of MSU football fans. 1. The spring game is for hard-core Dawg fans who want to see players as they are put into new roles. Most of the fans are busy texting or preparing their Super Bulldog Weekend Saturday night plans during the game....so now I think the stadium will be 80% Sugarland fans who will show up when it's time for the music. 2. There are a lot of fans who can't afford to attend regular season games and this is a chance every year for them to take their families to Davis Wade for free. If you say $25 is a small price to pay to support the program, then why can't they just add it to the season-ticket charges?
The basic premise of the idea was to expose new people to Bulldog football/MSU. Well, I doubt more than a dozen Sugarland fans will become State fans over this. And if you want to introduce them to the school (perhaps prospective students), then hold the concert at the Hump after the football game. If they want to have a concert at the football field, have a local band play or something. The MSU marketing department got a little too creative on this one.
thecristilmethod: I have to say I think it's a great idea. Now, do football fans have a gripe? Sure, but when you're doing something "innovative" like the marketing dept. is on this one, there will usually be gripes here or there. I like it because I get why they're doing it. They're doing it more, not for the sake of MSU football fans, but to attract people to campus who may not know much about State or who may have a young daughter or teenage son who likes Sugarland then they come to the concert, check out the campus and decide they'd like to attend college here. Oh, and they also are doing it for a pretty good reason: money. Green backs are always a smart decision, and they stand to make a good bit of it on this deal, provided they sell a decent amount of tickets.
Do football fans have a gripe? Yes, but there will always be a loser in these types of deals. On the overall, I think it's a great idea and another step in State being a trendsetter and trailblazer in the hash taggin', spring game band playing world of today.
Bonus Collection: Name your favorite springtime beer
justinrsutton: Here is where I come across as a beer snob. I'm just over Bud, Coors, etc. However, in the spring, I love Sam Adams Noble Pils. I also like Magic Hat Vinyl, but it can be tough to find. I also enjoy a free one.
The Croom Diaries: With crawfish - Coors Light. Just enjoying a brew - Blue Moon Spring Ale.
thecristilmethod: Strawberry Abita and it isn't even close. People will call me a girl for saying that, but it is hands down the best spring beer I've ever tasted.