I doubt there are many State fans out there -- save the youngsters -- who don't recognize the name Dudy Noble, and associate it with Mississippi State baseball. Noble, whose name graces the cathedral that Mississippi State baseball has called home for the last several decades, was one of the best players and coaches in State's storied baseball history, amassing 267 wins in 28 seasons at the helm in Starkville.
Many people may not know that Noble's impact on the MSU athletics department reached farther than that, as he served as Director of Athletics for Mississippi A&M for over 30 years. In that time, Noble hired such coaches as Allyn McKeen, who remains the only MSU coach elected to the College Football Hall of Fame, and Babe McCarthy, who won four SEC championships and 169 games at State in just 10 seasons.
But what I'm willing to bet even fewer State fans knew is that Dudy Noble actually started out his career in coaching as a football coach. In 1916, the year after Noble had completed his degree and four years worth of baseball, football, basketball, and track at MSU, he was hired as the head football coach at Mississippi College in Jackson.
And who might his first opponent have been as a newly minted head coach, you ask? Why, none other than Mississippi A&M, the team he had just finished his playing career with no more than 12 months prior. In his first career game of his first career season coaching, all Dudy Noble did was lead the Choctaws to a monumental 13-6 upset of the Maroons in Aberdeen, Mississippi. The win was one of just three in the series for the Choctaws all-time, as State mostly dominated the cross-state rivalry, winning 16 games against the three losses.
After just one season at MC, Noble left to take the head coaching position at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. He spent two seasons there before coming home to Starkville as an assistant football coach in 1919. He would go on to coach the baseball team starting in 1920, and even coached MSU's football team for one season in 1922, before deciding to ultimately focus solely on baseball.
What an interesting start to a career that greatly benefited MSU's athletics history, but for that single day, was a thorn in the side of the maroons.
For more great reading on MSU's football history, make sure to check out the Mississippi State Football Vault book, available in stores.