Happy first Friday night

There must be something really special about what goes in the water bottles Mississippi high schools use on Friday nights. Just has to be be. How else to explain it? Jerry Rice, pro football's all-time leading receiver and scorer, played his high school football a few miles outside out of Starkville. Brett Favre, pro football's all-time leading passer, played his prep ball in Kiln. Walter Payton, pro football's second all-time leading rusher, played his high school football in Columbia. Archie Manning, the patriarch of America's first family of football, first played...

All together now: 'One game at a time'

All right, football teams everywhere are in two-a-days. Whistles are blowing. Coaches' neck veins are bulging. Sweat is pouring. And players are asking themselves, “Why exactly am I doing this?” Fans, of course, can't wait. Everybody is undefeated. Tailgating is less than a month away. And even if you don't go to the games, you can turn on your TV at 11 in the morning and watch football non-stop till past midnight on any number of channels. It's not a season; it's a marathon. You, the fan, need to prepare...

Roy Cochran: a Mississippi Olympic story

I've covered nearly 30 Super Bowls, more Masters than I can count, a couple U.S. Opens, a World Series and several national championship games. But I covered the Olympics only once — in Atlanta, in 1996. It was an experience not to be forgotten, including the bomb that went off in Centennial Park one night just before our deadline. There was no shortage of Mississippi stories to write. Ruthie Bolton, from the tiny Greene County town of McLain, was the heart and soul of a gold medal-winning U.S. women's basketball...

Proctor Brought High School Sports Into the 21st Century

Ennis Proctor began his career as a coach and ended it as an administrator to whom high school athletes and coaches across Mississippi owe boundless gratitude. Simply put, Proctor brought Mississippi high school sports into the 21st century after inheriting an organization that languished in something very much like the 19th century. When Proctor took over as the executive director of the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) in 1991, the state's public schools offered only nine sanctioned sports. Worse, the MHSAA had less than $100,000 in the bank and...

Maholm happy to be a Brave

Talk about sudden life change: Ex-Mississippi State baseball standout and Hattiesburg resident Paul Maholm's world has turned up-side down in the last couple days. Maholm, you should know, has landed sunny-side up. Two days ago, Maholm was a red-hot pitcher for one of the worst teams in the Major Leagues, the Chicago Cubs. Saturday, he will start for the Atlanta Braves, who are in the middle of a pennant race. "It's exciting," Maholm said by cell phone. "It's like being called up to the Big Leagues for the first time...

Bulldogs' Malone Could Score With the Best of Them

It's a relatively new term basketball coaches use these days when they say a player "can score the ball." It means that a player can find different ways to get the ball in the hoop.Well, brothers and sisters, Jeff Malone could ever more score the basketball, even before there was such a phrasing. He could score it from long range, from mid-range and by taking it straight to the hoop. He could score coming off a screen or by pulling up and shooting over the defender.He became Mississippi State's all-time...

Hall Won Sudden Death Playoff with Death Itself

Lots of golfers can say they won a sudden death playoff. But, how many can say they won a sudden death playoff with death itself? Sam Hall, one of tonight’s Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame inductees, can. This was in 1995 when the then-61-year-old Hall already had won more than 300 amateur golf tournaments. Hall suffered a heart attack – and that was just for starters. Complications from an aneurysm in his abdomen led to gangrene in his feet. Doctors lopped off four of his toes and approximately a third...

Rebels' Crawford: A Jack of all Trade

We live in a sports era of specialization. Young athletes choose a sport - or parents choose it for them - at an early age and stick with that sport at the expense of all others. Gone are the days of the three-sport letterman at the collegiate level. Rarely, do we find one who even plays two. Gone are the days of athletes as versatile as Eddie Crawford, who not only lettered but starred in three sports at Ole Miss. Crawford belongs in the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame for...

Blades Blazes Trail for Softball

Before Courtney Blades-Rogers became an All-American softball pitcher at Southern Miss, no pitcher in NCAA history had ever struck out as many as 500 batters in a single season.As a senior in the spring 2000, Blades-Rogers, fanned 663. She practically rewrote the NCAA softball record book, which is why Blades-Rogers tonight becomes the first softball player ever to be inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. You could make a case that no athlete in Mississippi history has ever had a greater impact on one athletic program than Blades-Rogers...

We've Lost Three Great Ones

Tonight we celebrate Mississippi's rich sports history with the 50th annual Hall of Fame Induction Banquet, sponsored by BancorpSouth. We celebrate the present. We celebrate the past. Sadly, we will remember the three Hall of Famers we have lost in the past 12 months: Roland Dale, Kent Hull and Bucky McElroy. I am proud to have called all three friends. Roland Dale, a great player and top-notch assistant coach at Ole Miss, later became the athletic director at Southern Miss. He steered the Golden Eagles into the Metro Conference and...