Sideline View by Dale McKee

Published: Sep. 1, 2020 at 11:51 AM CDT
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WAYNESBORO, Miss. (WTOK) - COVID-19 has affected our lives like nothing that I have ever seen in my lifetime. From our jobs, to our schools, to our church house – even to our shopping habits – we have had to adjust. Sports, in general, are much different, and many Americans may have even lost their passion for the games.

I figured back in February that I would be watching the coaching debuts of Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss and Mike Leach at Mississippi State this Labor Day weekend. The only visible signs of college football, however, will be Hattiesburg, as Southern Mississippi will host South Alabama on Thursday night at 8 p.m.  Sadly, the smaller schools in our state and their communities will have no college football fever. The cities of Cleveland, Clinton, Itta Bena, Lorman and even our capital city of Jackson will be without college football fans until sometimes in 2021.

Getting back to MSU, Ole Miss and USM, will they complete the full season? Will they have to forfeit a game because of losing players to COVID-19? Schedule changes will most likely come into play at some point. Since the NCAA was so generous and granted all fall sport athletes another year of eligibility, what if a player begins the season but decides to opt out of the season down the road? Who knows what new strange twist looms around the corner for the upcoming season.

Live Football

The private schools played for the third week while the MHSAA schools conducted scrimmages this past Friday. The 2020 college football season opened in Montgomery, Alabama, at the Cramton Bowl last Saturday night. Central Arkansas edged Austin Peay, 24-17. Only 2,000 face-masked fans were allowed into the 25,000-seat stadium. The TV announcers were back at ESPN headquarters in Bristol.  There were no marching band sounds, and only a handful of the team’s cheerleaders – who were not even allowed on the field – were in attendance. So for the spectators football will be quite different. The Austin Peay football season is over in two weeks as they are only playing a non-conference schedule of three games. The Colonels are members of the Ohio Valley Conference, which called off fall sports. Central Arkansas is playing a nine-game non-conference schedule this season as the Southland Conference postposed all fall sports.

AP Top 25

The SEC has seven teams listed in the preseason Associated Press football poll. Alabama is the highest ranked at third behind Clemson and Ohio State. Georgia is ranked fourth, LSU is at sixth and Florida follows at eighth. Auburn leads the second ten at No.11, Texas A&M is ranked 13thand Tennessee comes in at 25th.  The rankings included all teams, even the teams from the Big 10 and PAC-12.

Mississippi Association Coaches All-Stars Games

The Mississippi Sports Medicine North/South All-Star games will be played at Wayne County High School this Saturday. The schedule calls for four games at 12:00, 2:30, 5:OO and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10, and only MAC passes are accepted.

Odds & Ends

Chicago White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito threw the first no-hitter of the MLB season against Pittsburgh.

This past Saturday was the first time since July 26 that all MLB games scheduled were played. Not all the previous 37 cancellations were because of COVID-19. Hurricanes, rain outs and protests were also the reasons listed.

Former Amory and MSU baseball star Mitch Moreland is on the move. The soon-to- be 35-year old was traded by Boston to San Diego this past Sunday.

The 146thrunning of the Kentucky Derby is slated for this Saturday afternoon.

Dale is a Waynesboro resident who has been writing sports since 1973.

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