Special night, special man

The boys got together Tuesday night — his boys — to give the old guy grief. The yelling and hollering, the twisting of the face masks, the attention to detail that marked so vividly a 60-year career trying to grind concentration and dedication into locker rooms filled with kids. It was Jack Carlisle Night at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, the first of many annual roasts to come of Mississippi Hall of Fame greats. And it was wonderful. The Murrah years. Jackson Prep. Ole Miss. East Tennessee...

Hood takes the lead

Orley Hood, the wily veteran, has taken a one-game lead over relative newcomer Rick Cleveland. Boy, that was fun to write. Only Orley could make this old soul feel like a newcomer.   Here we go again . . . Orley's picks   Middle Tennessee State at Mississippi State: The dream, ever since State fans first espied the 2012 schedule, was to get to Tuscaloosa on Oct. 27 7-0. All that stands in the way is MTSU. But as befits unbeaten teams come mid-October, every slope is as slick as...

Here we go again. . .

Me ‘n’ Ricky went Tierra del Fuego (that’s waaay south) last week, each going 6-6. But, like Lewis and Clark, we press on …   Orley's picks   Tennessee at Mississippi State: As goofy as the Vols have been — 44 against Georgia and still lost! — and as 5-0 and ranked as State is, UT most certainly is the best football team the Dogs will have faced so far. Tennessee can throw. State can defend it. Bulldogs 34, Vols 24. Auburn at Ole Miss: The Rebs let one get...

Our pal, Duff . . .

Decades ago it was, a smashup between sports and music, a reminder that the best nights often start with one purpose and finish with another. Something was happening with Ole Miss football. I forget what. It was 30 years ago. After covering a basketball game at Tad Smith, Rick and I wandered over to The Gin (may it rest in peace). “The Tangents are playing,” he said. “Bound to be some football players there.” I don’t remember whether we got anything on Ole Miss football for the paper that night....

What will Orley do for an encore?

After years out the football prognosticating business, Orley Hood took less than half a season to regain his regally omniscient form. Hood went Bo Derek on us last week, a perfect 10 for 10 to pull into a tie on the season. “Don't take long to warm up a Roll Royce,” Hood said when asked his unblemished performance. Rick Cleveland went 9-1, missing only on Missouri's narrow victory at UCF. “Hat's off to Orley,” Cleveland said. “I'm not sure how he knew that Missouri would get out-gained and still win...

When Saints really were Ain'ts

Oh, the humanity …   OK. The Saints aren’t a zeppelin burning in Lakehurst, N.J. As far as I know, nobody died in the Superdome last Sunday. Technically, anyway. The Saints are 0-3.   We can be forgiven, I guess, for thinking they’d be 3-0 going into the Packers game this week.   Alas … You win a Super Bowl, you figure, hey, this is the way life’s going to be. You go 14-4 before losing at San Francisco in last season’s playoffs. You suffer the weirdest lousiest off-season maybe...

Saints get little respect here

Orley vowed a comeback last week and he delivered, cutting Rick's lead to a measly one game on the season. Cleveland is now 21-8, Hood 20-9, and, no, that's not against the spread. Both missed on the Saints, but both appear to have learned their lesson.  Orley's picks  Ole Miss at Alabama: It’s one of those weeks when one of college football’s mere mortals, in this case Ole Miss, pays the price for playing in the SEC West, which is a lot like playing in the NFL, but with better...

Cool air + Friday night = bliss

Kismet or serendipity, take your pick. Autumn and cool weather have arrived in tandem as our high school lads in the larger classifications begin their quest to make the state football tournament tonight. All across the state questions will be asked, and some answered, as we put away sweet old rivalries — aka, the preseason — and dive into divisional games, many of which are based these days not on the ancient hatreds but on the algorithms of enrollment figures with a necessary but often subtle nod to geography. Can...

Rankings are nice, but …

‘Tis a heady thing, this Top 25. As Lewis and Clark might have said, it’s a big country. Filled with darkness and dread. Wildcats and Gators. Red Tide and roaring Tigers. To shove your way into the Top 25, even at this early date, is one small step for State, one giant leap for Bulldog Nation. So, lads. Take a bow. But don’t linger, lest the blood rush to your head and blind you to the dangers that await in the sweaty and suffocating SEC jungle. Three up and three...

Team Europe looking up

For those of us with the random overseas sporting bent, it has been a summer — really, several years — of interesting developments in Europe. First, the Spanish: Alberto Contador, two victories in the Tour de France, although it’s hard to say how many he still has. Fernando Gonzalez, two World Driving Championships in Formula 1. Tennis? Fifteen of the world’s top 100 men’s players at one stage, 11 major championships by 2008 Olympic champ Rafael Nadal, including this year’s French. Jose Maria Olazabal captains Europe’s Ryder Cup team in...