Sideline View by Dale McKee

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Mississippi State reached out to Conference USA to find their replacement for Vic Schaefer. MSU Athletic Director John Cohen feels that the hiring of Old Dominion head coach Nikki McCray-Penson is a “home-run hire.” McCray brings an excellent resume to Starkville. The Collierville, Tennessee, native played for Pat Summit at Tennessee where she was an All-American and played on the USA Olympic team. She also played eight years in the WNBA before beginning her coaching career at Western Kentucky. She has ten years of SEC experience as an assistant at South Carolina. Then three years ago she was awarded her first opportunity to take over her own program at Old Dominion. Her first team was not a good one, but she has led the Lady Monarchs to two straight 20-win seasons that ended with a 24-6 overall mark this last season. This year’s MSU team finished 27-6 in Schaefer’s final season. In eight seasons, he had an incredible 212-62 overall record. McCray has some very big shoes to fill, but she appears to be up for the challenge.

Sticking to MSU basketball, the Bulldogs have had a drastic exit from the past season’s roster. Over half the team is not returning, including All-SEC sophomore Reggie Perry, who has declared for the NBA draft. This week junior Nick Weatherspoon decided he is also leaving early and declaring for the draft. Robert Woodard II is weighing his options as he has added his name to the draft hopefuls. He has not hired an agent, so he could return for another season if he withdraws his name from the draft lists before the end of May. The NBA draft may be delayed until late in the summer.

The Bulldogs also lost two players to graduation and have another five players who have indicated they are entering the NCAA transfer portal. MSU Lady Bulldog Chloe Biddy has entered her name in the transfer portal. Southern Mississippi’s leading scorer sophomore Gabe Watson has also entered the transfer portal. The NCAA signing dates begin on Wednesday, April 15.

Baseball, Softball News

For the first time in MSU baseball history, MSU for the third straight year has ended the season ranked in the final Top 10 polls.

Ole Miss softball is in the early stages of hiring a softball coach. What is interesting about the process is that the campus is closed until August 1. So Rebels Athletic Director Keith Carter will have Face Time, Zoom or Skype in full force, as Carter will have to conduct a virtual facilities tours because of COVID-19.

Football News

The 2019 LSU football team is one of the great teams in the history of college football. This year’s National Football League draft might prove that as the Tigers could set records for the umber of players taken in the April 23-25 draft. Draft experts are saying as many as six Tigers could be taken in the first round. The previous record is six held by the 2004 Miami Hurricanes. They could also set another record of having the most players ever taken in the 7-round draft. That record was also set in the 2004 draft as 14 Ohio State players were selected. The experts again predict at least 14 Tigers will be taken.

Saints Classic

ESPN is showing Monday Night Football Classics and last week rebroadcast the “Rebirth,” a game from September 25, 2006, between the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons. A Saints TD only one minute and thirty seconds into the game led the team to a 23-3 win. The game helped celebrate the Saints’ first game back since Hurricane Katrina. Sean Payton was in his first year as head coach of the Saints, and newly signed free agent quarterback Drew Brees was starting his first game as a Saint. Brees is the only remaining player from that team who is still playing for the Saints.

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