Wright Waters: Owes his career to Bryant

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Wright Waters, executive director of the Football Bowl Association, has more than 40 years experience in college athletics, including 14 years as commissioner of the Sun Belt Conference. He says he owes his start in college athletics to Bear Bryant, who would have turned 100 years old today. In 1970, I left the University of Alabama to spend a year in Europe living with a favorite uncle. The plan was to find myself. In a funny kind of way, I guess I did because I got bitten by the desire...

Win Ellington remembers his splendid coach

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Bill Raphael, the beloved coach and teacher at St. Joseph High for 41 years, died Friday of pancreatic cancer. Here, Win Ellington (St. Joe Class of '90) remembers his mentor and the lessons learned. When the St. Joe Alumni Facebook Page posted a status that Coach Raphael had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer  I knew that it would not too much longer when we would be receiving another status telling us that God had called Coach home. Still, while drinking my Saturday morning coffee my heart briefly stopped when I...

Steve Shirley recalls 'My Coach' Bill Raphael

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  Bill Raphael, a beloved coach and teacher at St. Joseph High School died Friday of pancreatic cancer. He was 87. Steve Shirley (St. Joe Class of 1976), who played and learned under Raphael, shares this remarkable tribute. Bill Raphael was a legendary math teacher. Through his decades at St. Joseph High School, thousands of students passed through his classroom, learning algebra, trigonometry and geometry. Bill Raphael was also a legendary coach. His athletic record in both football and girls’ basketball has been recorded, his trophies displayed and the field...

Langston Rogers was a valuable mentor

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Stephen Hawkins works for the Associated Press in the Dallas-Fort Worth market, covering the Cowboys, the Mavericks, the Rangers and a lot more. He got his start as a student intern under Langston Rogers. He has not forgotten. I still remember sitting in Langston Rogers’ office on the Ole Miss campus on a January day in 1987. I had just started my first semester in Oxford and was eager to be part of the Sports Information department. While more than willing to put me to work, he quickly told me,...

Here's a suggestion for Hall of Fame. . .

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(Mark Doiron, right, formerly of Vicksburg, has been an Allstate agent 28 years in Madison.  He has officiated college football for 20 years. What follows is taken from a letter Doiron wrote to me. Would like to know what others think. — Rick Cleveland) Does or will the Hall ever consider selecting great high school athletes that made such a tremendous impact on a sport but never had the opportunity of continuing to further themselves on that particular sport because of finances of going to college or even maybe playing...

USM loses football great John T. Russell

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By Ken Shearer             Former Southern Miss football standout John Thomas Russell died May 3, at about 2:30 a.m. at a hospital in Austin, Texas. He was 76.          John had suffered a severe stroke on April 27. Funeral arrangements are incomplete but the funeral is expected to take place late next week in Tylertown with the burial at the family's home church cemetery near Monticello.         John and Miriam had lived in Leander, a suburb of Austin, Texas, for a number of years where he had been in the...

Sports writer turned pastor: 'Calm down'

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By Billy Turner Seriously, let's all calm down. The world as we know it didn't change this week. Culture didn't overtake Scripture as our GPS. The sun didn't stop in the sky (oh, that would be impossible, right?). However, there's no question that things blew up. Here's a sampling of the great culture wars from the past couple days when NBA player Jason Collins came out as a gay man. APPEARANCE CANCELLED In Wisconsin, former Green Bay Packers safety LeRoy Butler is out an $8,500 appearance fee after a church canceled...

Sid Salter: Bulldog Hopper's role in '42'

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By Sid Salter A Mississippi baseball manager – one with an acknowledged background that included less than progressive racial views early in his life – played a pivotal role in bringing the first black player to America’s pastime. The number one movie in America this week is “42: The Jackie Robinson Story,” a marvelous film that chronicles the iconic baseball player’s struggle to climb from the old Negro Leagues to become the first African-American to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball. The movie makes note of the Mississippi...

Sid Salter on Dr. Donald W. Zacharias

By SID SALTER In life and in death, Donald W. Zacharias cast a long shadow over Mississippi State University — the school he successfully led from 1985 to 1997 — the second-longest tenure in the history of the university behind founding president Stephen D. Lee. Higher education in Mississippi has had few better friends. Long and lanky, and possessed of a lilting voice that served him well during his college days as a radio basketball announcer and disc jockey, Zacharias sought to preserve and grow MSU’s land-grant mission while expanding...

A race from Starkville to the Hall of Fame

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By William "Brother" Rogers Cool Papa Bell was the fastest man ever to play baseball, and he grew up in Starkville.  His achievements, primarily in the Negro Leagues, earned his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. in 1974.  His Hall of Fame plaque reads in part, “…Contemporaries rated him fastest man on the base paths.” Born and raised in the Oktoc community, James Bell left Starkville at the age of 19 and joined the St. Louis Stars.  He began a career in professional baseball that...