Most of the Mississippi St. Bulldogs fan base awoke early on December 26th hoping to see MSU run the Miami-OH Redhawks off the field. What they got was a one point victory over a team most considered to be vastly inferior.
And then the Clarion Ledger ran their recap that looked like this in the first publication. Here is what the original story said.
Mississippi State failed to attend its bowl game Monday in a half-empty baseball stadium on the morning after Christmas against a mediocre Mid-American Conference opponent.
Each modifier provided the Bulldogs with built-in excuses for a poor performance in the St. Petersburg Bowl. Nelson Adams helped his teammate avoid finding anymore when he blocked a 37-yard field goal attempt with three seconds remaining to avoid an embarrassing end to the season.
From the opening kick Mississippi State looked like the final team in the field of 80 bowl participants. Miami brought the opening kick back to its own 41 yards line and capped its first drive with a field goal. Brandon Holloway failed to return the ensuing kick to the 20 yard-line. MSU punted four plays later.
The malaise extended to offense where veteran starters Fred Ross and Donald Gray dropped passes. Nick Fitzgerald, who led the SEC in total yards, threw two passes into the hands of Miami defenders.
The RedHawks’ inability to capitalize on MSU’s poor play was the only thing that kept the game close in the first half. They dropped both potential interceptions and couldn’t capitalize in the red zone.
The defense couldn't win one-on-one battles with Miami's wide receivers. The RedHawks scored its first touchdown on a jump ball over Jamal Peters, MSU's least experienced but tallest corner.
A Jamoral Graham interception in fourth quarter at the MSU 15 yard line sparked a turnaround.
Miami approached the red zone after the Bulldogs cut the lead to 16-14 with a 44-yard touchdown run.
Graham’s pick handed the ball back to the offense and Fitzgerald handled the rest. He guided the offense down field for Westin Graves to convert a 36-yard field goal giving MSU its first lead of the game.
The drive features lapses in concentration, though. After capturing all the momentum, Fitzgerald missed a wide open Ross in the end zone and Justin Senior was called for a block below the waist on a reverse that gained 7 yards.
It was enough to hand MSU the win, though.
The story has been edited, and you can see what it says here. It’s nothing close to the original, and the tone of the piece is much more complimentary of Mississippi State while still acknowledging the Bulldogs struggles on the field through out the day.
So what about the piece made Bulldog fans so mad? The originl piece wasn’t wrong as the Bulldogs played pretty terrible. The problem most fans had was the fact it came across as rubbing salt in the wound. You can still say the team struggled without the animosity displayed in the original post.
While I know most fans are extremely mad, I simply don’t care. The Clarion-Ledger has had a number of missteps along the way when covering the Bulldogs, and they will continue to do so. Each time this has happened, fans of the Bulldogs talk about not subscribing or not reading their stuff any more, but we still have the same outrage every single time.
I decided some time ago to not care too much bout what other media outlets thought about Mississippi State. Sure, I find myself falling back into the trap occasionally, but I try to not let it affect me too much.
I know what the argument is to be upset by things like this. The Clarion-Ledger is the largest paper in the state and the outlet most national groups go to when they need a take on the Bulldogs. Much of what the national media says about Mississippi State is filtered through the Clarion-Ledger lenses.
But if you don’t care about any media outlets perception of Mississippi State, then you don’t have to worry about the influence the paper has on anyone else. People will write positive things and negative things, but none of it will ultimately have any affect on how the team performs on the field.
Was there an overly negative tone to the piece? Yes. Will that stop me from being thankful the Bulldogs won a game they had found a way to lose all season? Not in the slightest.