Sideline View by Dale McKee
MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - The state of Mississippi was back in the national headlines this week as both the SEC and NCAA called for a change in the present state flag. The NCAA says it will not let any Mississippi school associated with its organization host an NCAA championship event until there is a change of state flags. In the past, Ole Miss, MSU and USM have hosted various sporting events like post-season baseball regionals and post-season basketball games. These events will no longer be permitted. We are the only state targeted because of the confederate symbol being displayed in our state flag. The Mississippi Legislature is planning on discussing the matter this week while meeting.
We don’t know if football will be played as of today. We hope the game will return as scheduled, but some of the nation’s leading experts are not so optimistic. The COVID-19 virus will determine when we get sports back to order. We have come to expect the unexpected for the 2020 season. The NFL has joined Major League Baseball, the NHL and college programs in having a recent rise of players testing positive for coronavirus. This rise comes as some states have experienced a sudden increase in cases after reopening businesses. Life must get back to normal before we see the game as we know it return.
Jackson State has lost two games on this year’s football schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Tigers’ annual Southern Heritage Classic contest with Tennessee State in Memphis has been cancelled. The Tigers’ season home opener against NAIA Langston has also been scratched. NAIA teams, of which Langston is a member, are not allowed to open the 2020 season before September 12. The Tigers, therefore, will not open until at least September 19. Whether these cancellations will become more common around the country is uncertain.
The Ole Miss Rebels will open their season in Houston on Sunday, September 6, against Baylor in NRG Stadium, home of the Houston Texans. The Alcorn Braves have agreed to play Ole Miss in football in 2028. It will be the first time the Rebels have played against a historically black college on the gridiron. Alcorn’s Athletic Director, former Ole Miss basketball player Derek Horne (1983-86) who worked for the Ole Miss athletic department for 15 years, helped to secure the matchup. The Braves played Southern Mississippi in 2014 and 2019 and battled Mississippi State in 2010 and 2013. The Braves have another contest scheduled against the Bulldogs in 2025. MSU recently scheduled future games against Washington State (2030) and Utah State (2024). Next door in Alabama, the Crimson Tide has lined up some impressive national games for the next couple of decades. The Tide will play the likes of Ohio State, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Arizona in home and home series.
The SEC football writers think very favorably about two Ole Miss Rebels in pre-season publications, wide receiver Elijah Moore and running back Jerrion Ealy. They are ranked in the top 5 at their positions for the entire conference. Moore joins Ja’Marr Chase of LSU, DeVonta Smith of Alabama, George Pickens of Georgia and Jhamon Ausbon of Texas A&M as the top 5 wide outs. Ealy is in the elite running class with Rakeem Boyd of Arkansas, Najee Harris of Alabama, Isaiah Spiller of Texas A&M and Larry Roundtree of Missouri. The five top-rated quarterbacks are Kyle Trask of Florida, Kellen Mond of Texas A&M, Jamie Newman of Georgia, Bo Nix of Auburn and Ryan Hilinski of South Carolina.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of USM head football coach Jay Hopson on the loss of his father, Dr. Briggs Hopson Jr. of Vicksburg, this past Sunday.
Dale is a Waynesboro native who has been writing sports since 1973.
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