Taylor Hawkins Sports EditorIn 2007, a contract was signed for a huge Big 12/SEC match up pitting the Rebels of Ole Miss vs. the Longhorns of Texas.
The SEC was beginning to take the title of the elite conference, while Texas was.. well... Texas.
The game was destined to draw viewers from across the country.
Fast forward five years into the future to September 15, 2012.
The Grove was absolutely packed as the Longhorn fans flooded Oxford.
Both teams were undefeated and Texas was the number 14 ranked team in the nation.
Though the Rebels scored 31 points, they could not stop Texas. They gave up a whopping 66 points and 676 yards of total offense. The Texas game was the first true test for a young team that got much better as the year went on.
Texas QB David Ash looked to be the next Colt McCoy with his career-high 326 yards and four touchdowns.
However, the Ole Miss game ended up easily being the Longhorn’s best game of the season, and Ash’s starting spot was in jeopardy throughout the rest of the season.
With both teams coming off bowl games and returning a ton of starters, it looked to be one of the premier non-conference games of the year.
The Rebels were coming to Austin for revenge, and Texas wanted to rise back up to their former supremacy.
On June 4, however, ESPN crushed the hope for a high exposure rematch. They announced that the anticipated rematch of the Texas Longhorns and the Ole Miss Rebels would be televised solely on the struggling Longhorn Network.
This decision seems to be pushed by ESPN, who is the provider for the LHN. They are using the big non-conference game to try and draw interest in their failing product.
They are actually doing just the opposite. No big name team will want to play the Longhorns under these conditions.
They have successfully distanced themselves from every other BCS school.
The Big 12 began to collapse around the power hungry school. Texas A&M and Missouri fled to the more balanced SEC. Nebraska went north to the Big 10.
West Virginia filled the void in the Big 12, but how long will the conference as a whole continue to be treated as a second fiddle to the all-powerful Texas?
What is next for the LHN? Will the Red River Shootout be displayed solely on the LHN? I think not. No self-respecting team will sign a contract under these circumstances.
This mess was unavoidable. Ole Miss signed a normal home-and-home contract that gives the home team TV rights. How could Pete Boone, Ole Miss Athletic Director at the time, have forseen this debacle? The LHN had never even been heard of back then.
The only reason Ole Miss would schedule a home-and-home with a traditional power like Texas to go along with the usual, brutal SEC slate is national exposure, and that was taken off the table at the last possible second.
They announced this insanity in June. What could Ole Miss do? Pay a buyout and schedule a D2 team? That would be throwing money away and decimating the strength of schedule, which grows more important to post-season play every year.
Though the situation is improving slightly due to the fact that Ole Miss and ESPN are working on “accommodations” so that fans in Mississippi will be able to see the game, it still doesn’t make up for the fact that Texas used shady dealings to further push their product at the expense of another BCS school.
All that new Ole Miss Athletic Director Ross Bjork can do is try to make accommodations for Rebel fans and shun the University of Texas from all future athletic endeavors.
On Thursday night Fletcher Cox and other outstanding former Yazoo City High School athletes helped with a very successful fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club. On Saturday Cox and some of his teammates from the Philadelphia Eagles hosted a free football camp for local youth. Pictured from left at the Thursday Boys and Girls Club event are Ronnie Tubbs, Desmond Johnson, Coach Tony Woolfolk, Robert Gainwell and Fletcher Cox. By TAYLOR HAWKINS
On Saturday, Yazoo City High School was flooded with energetic, young football players to take part in the first ever NFL Play 60 sponsored Fletcher Cox Football Camp.
The camp was free for all kids between the ages of eight and 14. Over 200 kids signed up for the camp.
Yazoo City native Cox attended YCHS, where he was an All-State football selection. He was highly recruited by schools all around the country, including Alabama, Auburn and Ole Miss.
He ultimately decided to sign with the Bulldogs of Mississippi State University.
At MSU, Cox gained All-American recognition. He made the decision to forego his senior year at MSU after a successful junior year to enter the NFL Draft.
As a part of the NFL Play 60 initiative, Cox decided to bring some excitement to his home town.
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Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy throws some passes during the camp.
The Tarheels baseball team won the 7 & Under 82 Challenge in Winona. Pictured are: (front) Austin Jones, Bradley Hanlon, John Henry Winstead, Dean Ellis Tyson, Brooks Vandevere (back) Lawson Selby, Austin Brewer, Ty Saxton, AJ Seiter, Brody Breithaupt, Jack Esparza (coaches) Glen Jones, Michael Hanlon, Brian Breithaupt and Rand Tyson.
Taylor Hawkins Sports EditorWhen I took the sports editor position here at The Herald, I was expecting to cover all of the high schools in the area along with some of the local youth stuff. In a sense, your normal small town sports.
I was fine with this; it was what I signed up for. I’ve spent a lot of my time taking pictures of little league baseball and interviewing high school coaches about their off-season training regimen.
It has been slow thus far, but that has helped me grow accustomed to the flow of the sports in the town while learning additional lessons that weren’t taught in school.
I’ve been pleased with the job and the people I have come in contact with.
The last thing I expected during the slowest time of the year in sports was to come face-to-face with some of the best players in the NFL.
At the Turf & Tales banquet on Thursday night, I was able to meet Yazoo City High legend Fletcher Cox.
Cox was a stud at Mississippi State University and a first round draft pick to the Philadelphia Eagles.
I know most people think that NFL players are pretty big by watching them on TV, but that will never prepare you to see one in person. Fletcher Cox is a massive human.
I kept my cool, however, when I interviewed him. Though he is a rising star in the professional ranks, I could still consider him a local Yazoo City guy, which helped ease my tension.
When I arrived at the NFL Play 60 camp sponsored by Fletcher Cox, however, the pressure significantly increased. I soon found out that Cox was not going to be the only NFL star in attendance.
As I arrived at the camp with camera in hand, I began greeting all of the coaches whom I have become friends with. I started to get an overview on the camp and began to take some early pictures of the participants.
As I was prepping, I noticed that Cox was walking up with two other huge people. The two people were defensive end Vinny Curry and defensive tackle Cedric Thornton. Curry was 6-foot-3 and weighed 279 pounds while Thornton was 6-foot-4 and 309 pounds. Where do people this size come from?
I began to grow a bit more nervous at the prospect of meeting multiple NFL players, but I was composing myself. I didn’t want to come across as some unprofessional, anxious kid.
Then I saw him.
Tucked between the three hulking lineman was a much smaller, yet stocky, man with a gray cap on his head. As I got a bit closer, I began to recognize him.
It was LeSean “Shady” McCoy, the Pro Bowl running back for the Philadelphia Eagles.
The 5-foot-11 208 lb. All-Pro selection is one of the most electrifying players in the entire NFL. He is a threat to score every time he touches the ball.
He was my first pick in my fantasy football league last year. That is big time.
My nerves soon began to grow too strong. I had to ask for a picture with McCoy as proof to having met him.
Though I can only hope I didn’t embarrass myself too much, McCoy did an excellent job of helping me keep my composure.
When I approached him, the first thing he did was ask me why the bugs were so big here. While it probably was no big deal to him, it really helped me calm my nerves.
I was amazed at how all of these NFL players acted. They were spoiled prima donnas like they are portrayed on TV at times. They genuinely seemed to want to be there.
I know that millionaires could find thousands of things they would rather be doing than facing the Mississippi heat and playing with kids, but they were vocal and truly seemed to enjoy it.
It would have been very easy for them to sulk off by themselves somewhere and stay invested in their cell phones. They didn’t do that. They threw the ball with participants, they raced and they laughed.
They treated the kids like they were the stars.
They made certain that every kid had an autograph and a story to tell.
When they had some free time toward the end, they didn’t shun all of their admirers. They had a lengthy discussion with the high school football team about who is the best rapper in the game today.
The day was about the kids, and I thought the NFL players were an absolute class act in making sure it stayed that way.
What we all fail to realize at times is that these are all normal people working abnormal jobs. They are constantly in the spotlight, but still find time to help out a small community like Yazoo.
We’re fortunate to have a great guy like Fletcher Cox representing Yazoo on such a large stage.