Mississippi State Bulldogs football
|Mississippi State Bulldogs football|
|Head coach||Dan Mullen
6th year, 46–30 (.605)
|Home stadium||Davis Wade Stadium|
|Division||SEC Western Division
|All-time record||532–557–39 (.489)|
|Postseason bowl record||11–7 (.611)|
|Conference titles||1 (1941)|
|Division titles||1 (1998)|
|Fight song||Hail State|
|Marching band||Famous Maroon Band|
|Rivals||Ole Miss Rebels
Alabama Crimson Tide
The Mississippi State Bulldogs football team represents Mississippi State University (MSU) in the sport of American football. The Bulldogs compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) and the Western Division of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). They are currently coached by Dan Mullen. Mississippi State has produced an SEC championship team in 1941 and a divisional championship team in 1998, along with 16 postseason bowl appearances. Mississippi State has produced 38 All-Americans, 171 All-SEC selections, and 124 NFL players, including 11 first-round draft picks. The Bulldogs play their home games at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field, the second oldest football stadium in NCAA Division I-FBS, which has a seating capacity of 61,337.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Early History (1895-1938)
- 1.2 Allyn McKeen era (1939-1948)
- 1.3 Arthur Morton era (1949-1951)
- 1.4 Murray Warmath era (1952-1953)
- 1.5 Darrell Royal era (1954-1955)
- 1.6 Wade Walker era (1956-1961)
- 1.7 Paul Davis era (1962-1966)
- 1.8 Charles Shira era (1967-1972)
- 1.9 Bob Tyler era (1973-1978)
- 1.10 Emory Bellard era (1979-1985)
- 1.11 Rockey Felker era (1986-1990)
- 1.12 Jackie Sherrill era (1991-2003)
- 1.13 Sylvester Croom era (2004-2008)
- 1.14 Dan Mullen era (2009-present)
- 2 Rivalries
- 3 Championships
- 4 Program Achievements
- 5 Recent history
- 6 All-time record vs. SEC teams
- 7 Bowl history
- 8 Traditions
- 9 Recruiting
- 10 First round draft picks
- 11 Coaching staff
- 12 Future opponents
- 13 References
- 14 External links
Early History (1895-1938)
Mississippi State (then known as Mississippi A&M and its mascot was the Aggies) first fielded a football team in 1895. The team was coached by W. M. Matthews. During his one-season tenure, Matthews posted an overall record of zero wins and two losses (0–2). He is also credited with the selection of what became the official school colors, maroon and white, prior to the Aggies first game ever played at Union University.
Mississippi A&M became changed its name to Mississippi State in 1925 and the mascot was changed from Aggies to Maroons in 1932.
Ralph Sasse enjoyed success as Mississippi State's head football coach. After leading Mississippi State to a 20–10–2 record in three years and an appearance in the 1937 Orange Bowl, a loss, Sasse stunned the students and players by resigning from his head coach's duties, following a doctor's orders after a sudden nervous breakdown.
Allyn McKeen era (1939-1948)
Allyn McKeen left Memphis to become head football coach at Mississippi State, where he compiled a 65-19-3 record in ten seasons. In 1940, he was named Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year after leading Mississippi State to its only undefeated season in school history and its second Orange Bowl appearance, a victory.
The following year, 1941, his Maroons squad captured the first and only Southeastern Conference championship in program history. McKeen retired from coaching in 1948 after being fired by Athletic Director Dudy Noble because of a 4-4-1 season. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1991.
Mississippi State did not field a football team in 1943.
Arthur Morton era (1949-1951)
Arthur Morton left VMI to become MSU's head football coach after McKeen's retirement. Morton's Maroons posted struggling records of 0-8-1, 4-5 and 4-5 for a grand total of 8-18-1 before Morton's firing.
Murray Warmath era (1952-1953)
Murray Warmath came to Mississippi State from his post as line coach at Army and posted records of 5-4 and 5-2-3 for a grand total of 10-6-3 leaving the Bulldogs. Warmath went on to have a very successful stint as the head football coach at Minnesota after his tenure at MSU.
Darrell Royal era (1954-1955)
Darrell Royal came to Mississippi State from the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos and put up back to back 6-4 records in his two seasons as the Maroons head football coach. Royal resigned after just two seasons to accept the head football coach position at Washington. Royal would go on to achieve great successes and solidify his place among the all-time greatest college football coaches at Texas.
Wade Walker era (1956-1961)
Wade Walker was promoted from line coach to head coach following Royal's departure. Walker compiled a 22–32–2 record over his 6 season tenure. The Mississippi State Maroons posted a lackluster 2–7–1 record in 1959. The following year, Walker's Maroons improved to 5-5, but students, fans and alumni demanded his ouster. University president Dean W. Colvard relented and fired Walker as football coach, but kept him on as athletic director, a post he kept until 1966.
MSU changed its mascot from Maroons to Bulldogs in 1960.
Paul Davis era (1962-1966)
Paul Davis was promoted from assistant coach to head coach following Walker's firing. His teams went 20–38–2 overall and 9–22–2 in the Southeastern Conference in Davis' five seasons. The Bulldogs had a 7–2–2 record in 1963, earning its first postseason bowl game since 1939. The team finished the season with a 16–12 victory over North Carolina State in front of 8,309 fans at the 1963 Liberty Bowl played in a bitter cold Philadelphia. Mississippi State was able to convert two botched North Carolina State punts into touchdowns, and a 13–0 lead at the first quarter. United Press International named Davis the SEC Coach of the Year for the 1963 season. After a lackluster 2–8 record in 1966, MSU terminated Davis, as well as athletic director Wade Walker.
Charles Shira era (1967-1972)
In his first season, his team won two games, followed by none the following year. Mississippi State improved to 3–7 in 1969. That year, Shira served as the coach for the Gray squad in the Blue-Gray Classic.
Mississippi State posted a surprising six-win season in 1970, including a victory over rival Ole Miss. For the accomplishment, the SEC named Shira its Coach of the Year. In 1972, having compiled a record of 16–45–2, Shira resigned as head coach to focus on his duties as athletic director.
Bob Tyler era (1973-1978)
Bob Tyler was promoted from offensive coordinator to head coach of the Bulldogs football team after Shira's resignation. Tyler led State to a 9–3 season and a victory in the 1974 Sun Bowl over North Carolina. During that season, his team beat perennial powerhouses Georgia and LSU. The Bulldogs' record was 6–4–1 in 1975, and it was an impressive 9–2 in 1976, ending the season ranked #20 in the AP Poll. His team compiled a 5–6 record in 1977, and he went 6–5 in his final season with the Bulldogs.
Mississippi State was placed on probation by the NCAA prior to the 1975 season due to alleged improper benefits to student athletes. The school sought and won court approval to play in an adverse legal opinion to the NCAA. Although the alleged infraction was trivial, the NCAA forced the school to forfeit most games it won in 1975, 1976, and 1977.
Emory Bellard era (1979-1985)
He was considered to have had one of the most innovative offensive minds in football and is credited for inventing the wishbone formation. Bellard spent seven seasons as head coach at MSU. His best years as the Bulldogs head coach were in 1980 and 1981, when his team finished 9–3 and 8–4, respectively. Also, Bellard was the coach when Mississippi State defeated number 1, undefeated Alabama 6-3 in Jackson, Mississippi in 1980. Bellard left coaching after the 1985 season but would return in 1988 to coach at the high school level in Texas.
Rockey Felker era (1986-1990)
Rockey Felker returned to his alma mater, which was coming off four consecutive losing seasons, from his post as a position coach at Alabama. At 33, Felker was the youngest coach in the country and the first Mississippi State coach in 30 years to start his career as MSU head football coach with a winning record (6–5).
However, this success wouldn't last, and he suffered through four losing seasons (4–7, 1–10, 5–6, 5–6) between 1987 and 1990, and only won a total of five games in SEC play. He resigned under pressure at the end of the 1990 season, but would be brought back by his successor, Jackie Sherrill, as running backs coach for two seasons and in a non-coaching position in the football program, where he serves to this day.
Jackie Sherrill era (1991-2003)
After three years away from the game, former Washington State, Pittsburgh and Texas A&M head football coach Jackie Sherrill was hired as head football coach at Mississippi State in 1991. He took over a program that hadn't had a winning season since 1986 (and had won a total of 14 games in that stretch) and hadn't had a winning record in Southeastern Conference play since 1981. Sherrill began his Mississippi State career with an upset victory over a familiar foe from his A&M days, the Texas Longhorns (who were the defending Southwest Conference champions).
In thirteen seasons in Starkville, Sherrill coached the Bulldogs to a record of 75–75–2. His 75 wins are the most in school history. He led the team to an SEC West title in 1998, and a berth in the Cotton Bowl Classic. A year later, he notched a 10–2 record and #12 final ranking. That #12 ranking was the highest final ranking achieved by any NCAA Division I-A school in Mississippi in over 30 years. Sherrill, along with Bill Snyder of Kansas State, were among the first to use the rich JUCO systems of their respective states to help their programs progress.
Although Sherrill won only eight games in his last three seasons, he built Mississippi State into a consistent winner despite playing in the same division as powerhouses like Alabama, Auburn and LSU. He also finished with a winning record against in-state rival Ole Miss (7–6). Under Sherrill, the Bulldogs went to six bowl games; before his arrival they'd only been to seven bowls in 96 years of play.
Sherrill also achieved notoriety by having his team observe the castration of a bull as a motivational technique prior to a game versus Texas. Unranked Mississippi State subsequently beat the #13 ranked Longhorns.
Sherrill retired after the 2003 season, which was followed by the NCAA levying probation for four years on the program. Despite a prolonged 3 year investigation by the NCAA, Mississippi State was  not found guilty of any major violations, and Sherrill was never personally found guilty of any NCAA rules violations at either Mississippi State or Texas A&M.
Sylvester Croom era (2004-2008)
Sylvester Croom, a longtime assistant in the NFL, was hired to replace the retiring Sherrill. Croom is a significant figure, because he is not only the first African American head football coach in Mississippi State history, but also in SEC football history. When Croom was hired at Mississippi State, he inherited a program that was riddled with NCAA sanctions and had not won consistently since the 1990s.
After the 2007 season, during which his team won eight games, including the Liberty Bowl, Croom garnered Coach of the Year awards from three organizations. On December 4, 2007, Croom was named coach of the year by the American Football Coaches Association for region two. The AFCA has five regional coaches of the year and announces a national coach of the year each January. That same year, on December 5, Croom was named SEC Coach of the Year twice, once as voted by the other SEC coaches and once as voted by The Associated Press. It was the first time a Mississippi State coach received the AP honor since Charley Shira in 1970 and the first time a Mississippi State coach received the coaches award since Wade Walker in 1957.
Dan Mullen era (2009-present)
Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen was hired as Mississippi State's head coach in late 2008. In Mullen's first season, the Bulldogs finished 5-7, ending upbeat with a 41-27 victory over Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl.
In 2010, they started 1-2, and then they had a 6-game winning streak to make their record 7-2 before losing to Alabama and Arkansas, but once again defeated Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl. The team participated in a bowl game for the first time since 2007, soundly defeating Michigan in the Gator Bowl 52-14.
In 2011, the Bulldogs entered the season ranked #19 in the country, and they started 1-0, before losing to the defending national champion Auburn 41-34. Mississippi State came into the Egg Bowl 5-6, needing the victory to earn a bowl bid for a second straight season. The Bulldogs defeated the Rebels 31-3, earning Mullen the distinction as the first coach to win his first three Egg Bowls since Allyn McKeen in 1941. The Bulldogs then went on to win the Music City Bowl over Wake Forest in Nashville, TN.
In 2012, Mississippi State defeated Tennessee 41-31 in their sixth game of the season to qualify for another postseason appearance. After a 7-0 start the team ran into some difficulty finishing the regular season 8-4 before losing to Northwestern in the Gator Bowl. This was the first time Mississippi State appeared in a bowl three straight years since 2000.
In 2013, MSU under Mullen once again needed a victory in the Egg Bowl to become bowl eligible for the fourth year in a row, and got it, beating Ole Miss 17-10 in overtime. MSU dominated Rice in the Liberty Bowl December 31, 2013 in Memphis, Tennessee, by a score of 44-7. It was MSU's third bowl win in the last four years.
2014 turned out to be the most historic run for the team, as the Bulldogs reached a #1 ranking for the first time ever, doing so in both the Amway Coaches Poll and the AP Poll, after beating 3 consecutive top-10 teams (#7 LSU Tigers, #6 Texas A&M Aggies, and #2 Auburn Tigers). As a result, the Bulldogs became the fastest team in AP Poll's history to reach the #1 ranking, from being unranked, in only 5 weeks.
Unfortunately, the Bulldogs couldn't sustain that momentum, as they lost two of their last three games, first to Alabama 25-20 and then two weeks later in that year's Egg Bowl, falling to Ole Miss 31-17. That loss effectively knocked the Bulldogs out of playoff contention. However, the Bulldogs finished the regular season 10-2 and were ranked #7 by the College Football Playoff Committee in their final rankings. As a result they were awarded a trip to the Orange Bowl to be played against Georgia Tech on December 31, 2014.
The Battle for the Golden Egg, also known as the Egg Bowl, was first played in 1901 and has been played every year since 1915 (with the exception of the 1943 season when neither school fielded teams due to World War II) making it the tenth longest uninterrupted series in the United States. The game became “The Battle for the Golden Egg” in 1927 when a travelling trophy was added. Although through the years the game has been played primarily in 3 locations Starkville (38 times), Oxford (36 times), and Jackson (29 times); there have been a few meetings in other locations including Tupelo 3 times, Greenwood twice, Clarksdale once, and Columbus once. In total the two squads have met on the gridiron 110 times with Ole Miss holding a 61–43–6 lead in the series (59–45–6 on the field)*.
|Games played||First meeting||Last meeting||MSU wins||MSU losses||Ties|
|111||1901 (Won 17–0)||November 29, 2014 (Lost 17-31)||43||62||6|
- The 1976 and 1977 games were won by Mississippi State but later forfeited by the NCAA.
The LSU–Mississippi State rivalry, is an annual football game between the Louisiana State Tigers and Mississippi State University Bulldogs. Both universities are founding members of the Southeastern Conference, as well as the Western Division. This rivalry is LSU's longest rivalry with 108 meetings.
Mississippi State's 34-29 victory on September 20, 2014 was the Bulldogs' first over LSU since 1999, their first in Baton Rouge since 1991, and just their fourth overall since 1985.
|Games played||First meeting||Last meeting||MSU wins||MSU losses||Ties|
|108||November 20, 1896 (Loss 52–0)||September 20, 2014 (Won 34-29)||34||71||3|
- includes the 1976 and 1977 games which were won by Mississippi State but later forfeited by the NCAA.
The Alabama–Mississippi State rivalry, sometimes referred to as the 90 Mile Drive or the Battle for Highway 82, is an annual football game between the University of Alabama Crimson Tide and Mississippi State University Bulldogs. Both universities are founding members of the Southeastern Conference, as well as the Western Division. The two campuses are located approximately 90 miles apart, and are the closest SEC schools in terms of distance.
Entering its 97th meeting as of the 2012 football season, Alabama-Mississippi State is one of the SEC's longest-running series, dating back to 1896.
|Games played||First meeting||Last meeting||MSU wins||MSU losses||Ties|
|99||1896 (Lost 0-20)||November 15, 2014 (Lost 20-25)||18||78||3|
The annual rivalry game between the Mississippi State Bulldogs and University of Kentucky Wildcats rotates between Lexington, Kentucky and Starkville, Mississippi. The game became a permanent rivalry when the Southeastern Conference assigned permanent interdivisional rivals. Mississippi State has won 6 of their last 7 vs. Kentucky.
|Games played||First meeting||Last meeting||MSU wins||MSU losses|
|42||1914 (Lost 13–19)||October 25, 2014 (Won 45–31)||21||21|
The 1940 Mississippi State Bulldogs finished the season 10-0-1 and defeated Georgetown 14-7 in the 1941 Orange Bowl, with key wins over Florida, Alabama, and Ole Miss, while tying with Auburn 7-7. The Bulldogs finished ranked #9 in the AP Poll and Minnesota was named national champions by all major polls. Some Bulldog fans retroactively claim the 1940 season as a national championship for Mississippi State, but the university neither claims nor acknowledges a national championship for the season.
The 1941 Mississippi State Bulldogs finished the year with an 8-1-1 record, and won the Southeastern Conference championship. The season included wins over Florida, Alabama, Auburn, and Mississippi. The Bulldogs tied with LSU and were defeated by Duquesne.
|Season||Conference||Coach||Overall Record||Conference Record|
The SEC has been split into two divisions since the 1992 season with Mississippi State competing in the SEC West since that time. In 1998, MSU finished the regular season with a 26-14 win over Alabama, a 22-21 win over Arkansas, and a 28-6 win over Ole Miss in Oxford, MS. At the end of the regular season, both MSU and Arkansas finished with 6-2 conference records, but by virtue of MSU's head-to-head win over Arkansas, MSU earned the right to play in the SEC Championship Game as SEC Western Division Champions. In that game, MSU was leading eventual national champion Tennessee in the fourth quarter before falling 24-14 before 74,000 fans in the Georgia Dome. They continued on to play in the Cotton Bowl Classic in Dallas, Texas, against a heavily favored Texas Longhorns team. The Bulldogs lost the game 38-11.
|Season||Division||Coach||SEC CG Result||Opponent||PF||PA|
|1998†||SEC West||Jackie Sherrill||L||Tennessee||14||24|
|† Denotes co-champions|
|SEC West Champions||1998|
|Final AP Poll Ranking||1940, 1941, 1942, 1957, 1974, 1976, 1980, 1992, 1994, 1999, 2000, 2010|
|Final Coaches Poll Ranking||1963, 1992, 1994, 1999, 2000, 2010|
|Bowl Victories*||1911, 1940, 1963, 1974, 1981, 1999, 2000, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2013|
|Bowl Appearances*||1911, 1936, 1940, 1963, 1974, 1980, 1981, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013|
- Years listed for Bowl victories are seasons for which they occurred.
The 1999 Bulldog team finished their season with a 10–2 record, earning a final ranking of #12 nationally. During the 1999 season MSU fielded the #1 ranked defense in the country. MSU beat in-state rival Ole Miss to finish the regular season. It was Jackie Sherrill's 6th win in his first 9 games against the Rebels. In the bowl game, the Bulldogs defeated Clemson in the Peach Bowl, 17–7 to finish 10-2 and ranked #12. That #12 ranking is the highest final ranking of any FBS Division team in the State of Mississippi in over 40 years.
The 2000 Bulldogs finished 8–4 (4–4) in what would be Jackie Sherrill's final winning season at MSU. The team reached the 2000 Independence Bowl where led by quarterback Wayne Madkin and running back Dontae Walker, under snowy conditions, they pulled out an exciting 43–41 overtime victory over Texas A&M.
The Bulldogs finished 8–5 and won the Liberty Bowl over the Conference USA Champion the University of Central Florida. Other notable wins include away victories at Auburn University and the University of Kentucky and home wins versus the University of Alabama and Ole Miss. With the win over Ole Miss, Mississippi State claimed the Egg Bowl trophy.
Mississippi State defeated the Georgia Bulldogs and the Florida Gators in the same season for the first time in team history. The Bulldogs also defeated the Ole Miss Rebels 31-23 for the Bulldogs' second consecutive win over the in-state rival. MSU finished the season with a 52-14 win in the Gator Bowl over traditional college football power University of Michigan Wolverines. The Bulldogs finished the 2010 football season ranked 15th by the Associated Press, the highest final ranking for the school in the AP poll since finishing 13th in the nation after the 1999 season.
On Tuesday, November 2, 2010, 20-year-old defensive end Nick Bell, who had undergone surgery that Sunday for a type of skin cancer, died after a rapid deterioration of his health; he had been scheduled to begin chemotherapy that day. His loss was mourned by the university and head coach Dan Mullen, who decided to meet with Bell's family on Monday night- when it became clear he was deteriorating- instead of attending the meeting of the Jackson Touchdown Club; Athletic Director Scott Stricklin went instead.
MSU won 7 games, including beating the Ole Miss Rebels for the 3rd straight time. It was also the MSU's 4th win in the last 5 against Ole Miss. The Bulldogs went on to beat the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the Music City Bowl 23-17. The win in the Music City Bowl was the Bulldogs' 5th straight bowl win, which was tied for the longest active bowl win streak in the NCAA.
MSU started 7-0, but finished the season on a 1-5 stretch including a loss to their rival Ole Miss in their annual meeting and a loss to Northwestern in the Gator Bowl.
MSU did well outside the SEC but was 0-5 against teams, mostly in the SEC, that were in the Top 25 (losing 21-3 to #13 Oklahoma State, 59-26 to #10 LSU, 34-16 to #14 South Carolina, 51-41 to #15 Texas A&M and 20-7 to #1 Alabama). With two games left in the season MSU possessed a 4-6 record, needing to win out to achieve bowl eligibility for a record straight 4th season. Trailing 17-10 in the fourth quarter against the Arkansas Razorbacks, Tyler Russell led the bulldogs down the field for a game tying score before going down with what would be a career ending injury. With little time on the clock the Razorbacks drove all the way down to the 10 yard line before Nikoe Whitley made a game saving strip to give the bulldogs the ball and allow them to force overtime. With both Tyler Russell and Dak Prescott out with injury, true freshman Damian Williams was called upon to win the game for the Bulldogs. On the very first play from scrimmage in overtime Williams scrambled 25 yards for the go ahead score. The Bulldogs would go on to win on a game ending interception by Taveze Calhoun.
Just 5 days later on Thanksgiving night the Bulldogs faced arch rival Ole Miss in the Battle for the Golden Egg. Damian Williams and the MSU offense were unable to score most of the night and again found themselves trailing to start the 4th quarter. With the team behind 10-7 Dak Prescott, who had been medically cleared to play but had been held out due to injury, entered the game. Prescott quickly led the Bulldogs down the field into field goal range to again force overtime. In overtime, facing 4th and 2 from the 3 yard line, the Bulldogs opted to go for the touchdown rather than the field goal. Dak Prescott successfully rushed into the left side of the end zone for the score. On the ensuing possession, it appeared that Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace was headed to the end zone to enter the score, but Nikoe Whitley once again ended the game by relieving Wallace of the ball and sending the Bulldogs to their record straight 4th straight bowl appearance. The Bulldogs faced the Conference USA champion Rice Owls in the Autozone Liberty Bowl on Dec 31, 2013 in Memphis, Tennessee, scoring 44 unanswered points after an early Rice touchdown to win 44-7.
Mississippi State for the first time in its history was ranked #1 in the Coaches Poll as well as the AP Poll for five weeks during the regular season after starting unranked in both polls. Additionally they were ranked #1 in the inaugural College Football Playoff's initial ranking. However, with losses to both Alabama and to Ole Miss, State finished the season 10-2, dropping to #7 in the College Football Playoff and being eliminated from playoff contention. With the #7 ranking they were awarded the Orange Bowl where they are to play Georgia Tech on December 31. 
All-time record vs. SEC teams
Most recently, the Bulldogs defeated the Conference USA champion UCF Knights 10-3 in the 2007 Liberty Bowl, the Michigan Wolverines 52-14 in the 2011 Gator Bowl, Wake Forest 23-17 in the Music City, and the Rice Owls in the 2013 Liberty Bowl.
From 1999-2011 the Bulldogs had a 5 game winning streak in bowls before losing to Northwestern Wildcats in the 2013 Gator Bowl.
|W||01-01-1912||12||Havana Athletic Club||0||Bacardi Bowl|
|W||12-21-1963||16||N.C. State||12||Liberty Bowl|
|W||12-28-1974||26||North Carolina||24||Sun Bowl|
|W||12-31-1981||10||Kansas||0||Hall of Fame Bowl|
|L||12-29-1991||15||Air Force||38||Liberty Bowl|
|L||01-02-1993||17||North Carolina||21||Peach Bowl|
|L||01-01-1995||24||N.C. State||28||Peach Bowl|
|L||01-01-1999||11||Texas||38||Cotton Bowl Classic|
|W||12-31-2000||43||Texas A&M||41||Independence Bowl|
|W||12-30-2011||23||Wake Forest||17||Music City Bowl|
|12-31-2014||Georgia Tech||Orange Bowl|
The most unique and certainly the most resounding symbol of Mississippi State University tradition is the cowbell. Despite decades of attempts by opponents and authorities to banish it from scenes of competition, diehard State fans still celebrate Bulldog victories loudly and proudly with the distinctive sound of ringing cowbells.
The precise origin of the cowbell as a fixture of Mississippi State sports tradition remains unclear to this day. The best records have cowbells gradually introduced to the MSU sports scene in the late 1930s and early 1940s, coinciding with the 'golden age' of Mississippi State football success prior to World War II.
The most popular legend is that during a home football game between State and arch-rival Mississippi, a jersey cow wandered onto the playing field. Mississippi State soundly whipped the Rebels that Saturday, and State College students immediately adopted the cow as a good luck charm. Students are said to have continued bringing a cow to football games for a while, until the practice was eventually discontinued in favor of bringing just the cow's bell.
Whatever the origin, it is certain that by the 1950s cowbells were common at Mississippi State games, and by the 1960s were established as the special symbol of Mississippi State. Ironically, the cowbell's popularity grew most rapidly during the long years when State football teams were rarely successful. Flaunting this anachronism from the 'aggie' days was a proud response by students and alumni to outsider scorn of the university's 'cow college' history.
In the 1960s two MSU professors, Earl W. Terrell and Ralph L. Reeves obliged some students by welding handles on the bells to they could be rung with much more convenience and authority. By 1963 the demand for these long-handled cowbells could not be filled by home workshops alone, so at the suggestion of Reeves the Student Association bought bells in bulk and the Industrial Education Club agreed to weld on handles. In 1964 the MSU Bookstore began marketing these cowbells with a portion of the profits returning to these student organizations.
Today many styles of cowbells are available on campus and around Starkville, with the top-of-the-line a heavy chrome-plated model with a full Bulldog figurine handle. But experts insist the best and loudest results are produced by a classic long-handled, bicycle-grip bell made of thinner and tightly-welded shells.
Cowbells decorate offices and homes of Mississippi State alumni, and are passed down through generations of Bulldog fans.
In early 1975, the SEC adopted a rule against artificial noisemakers that made it illegal to ring a cowbell during games; an official complaint by Auburn coach Shug Jordan, whose disapproval of the tradition went back several years, after the Tigers narrow 1974 win over the Bulldogs was largely responsible for the decision. At one point during the game, Jordan instructed his quarterback not to run a play in protest of officials refusing to quiet the crowd. Jordan's dislike for the cowbells inspired the University of Alabama to attempt to purchase 1,000 cowbells from Mississippi State for Alabama fans to take to the Iron Bowl; MSU declined the offer. University of Texas fans also attempted to annoy Jordan with cowbells during the 1974 Gator Bowl. Shortly after the ban was enacted, Mississippi State officials considered other items and devices to replace the cowbells. In 1981, a Mississippi State faculty member filed a suit against Auburn University and the Southeastern Conference that sought to have the rule declared unconstitutional after his cowbell was confiscated at the 1981 AU-MSU game at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Despite creative efforts by MSU fans to circumvent the ruling and continue the tradition, the ban was in effect until 2010.
That spring, the 12 schools of the SEC agreed to a compromise on artificial noisemakers, acknowledging the role cowbells play in the history of Mississippi State University by amending the conference by-law. In the fall of 2010, on a one-year trial with specified restrictions, cowbells were permitted in Davis Wade Stadium for the first time in 36 years. And due to MSU fans' notable adherence to the rules outlined by the league, cowbells will continue to be allowed with similar restrictions in place. In 2012, the rule was made permanent by the SEC.
Maroon and white
Maroon and White are the distinctive colors of Mississippi State University athletic teams, dating back over a century to the very first football game ever played by the school's student-athletes.
On November 15, 1895, the first Mississippi A&M football team was preparing for a road trip to Jackson, Tennessee., to play Southern Baptist University (now called Union University) the following day. Since every college was supposed to have its own uniform colors, the A&M student body requested that the school's team select a suitable combination.
Considering making this choice an honor, the inaugural State team gave the privilege to team captain W.M. Matthews. Accounts report that without hesitation Matthews chose Maroon and White.
Mississippi State Bulldogs Football Scout.com team recruiting rankings:
First round draft picks
Mississippi State has had 11 players selected in the first round of professional football drafts.
National Football League
The program has had 32 head coaches since it began play during the 1895 season, and has played more than 1,050 games over 111 seasons. Since December 2008, Dan Mullen has served as Mississippi State's head coach.
Historic coaching hire
Mississippi State made history on December 1, 2003, when it hired Sylvester Croom as its head football coach. Croom was the first African-American named to such a position in the history of the Southeastern Conference (SEC).
Current coaching staff
|Dan Mullen||Head Coach|
|To be named||Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers|
|Billy Gonzales||Co-Offensive Coordinator/Passing Game/Wide Receivers|
|John Hevesy||Co-Offensive Coordinator/Running Game/Offensive Line|
|Tony Hughes||Recruiting Coordinator/Safeties Coach|
|Brian Johnson||Quarterbacks Coach|
|Greg Knox||Running Backs/Special Teams Coordinator|
|Scott Sallach||Tight Ends Coach|
|Deshea Townsend||Cornerbacks Coach|
|David Turner||Defensive Line Coach|
Mississippi State plays the other six SEC West opponents once per season.
|Even Numbered Years||Odd Number Years|
|at Alabama||vs Alabama|
|vs Arkansas||at Arkansas|
|vs Auburn||at Auburn|
|at LSU||vs LSU|
|vs Texas A&M||at Texas A&M|
|at Ole Miss||vs Ole Miss|
Mississippi State plays Kentucky as a permanent non-division opponent annually and rotates around the East division among the other six schools.
|vs Kentucky||at Kentucky||vs Kentucky||at Kentucky||vs Kentucky||at Kentucky||vs Kentucky||at Kentucky||vs Kentucky||at Kentucky||vs Kentucky|
|at Missouri||vs South Carolina||at Georgia||vs Florida||at Tennessee||vs Missouri||at Vanderbilt||vs Georgia||at South Carolina||vs Tennessee||at Florida|
|at Southern Miss||vs South Alabama||vs Louisiana Tech||at Kansas State||vs Kansas State||at NC State||vs. NC State||at Arizona||vs Arizona|
|vs Louisiana Tech||at Louisiana Tech|
|vs Troy||vs Tulane|
|vs Northwestern State||Power 5 opponent|
- http://fs.ncaa.org/Docs/stats/football_records/2011/Awards.pdf 2011 NCAA Football Records - Award Winners
- http://www.hailstate.com 2008 Mississippi State Football Media Guide: Media Information and Record Book
- DeLassus, David. "W. M. Matthews Records by Year". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved February 19, 2012.
- Barnwell, Marion (1997). A Place Called Mississippi: Collected Narratives. Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi. p. 241. ISBN 0-87805-964-4. Retrieved February 19, 2012.
- Galbraith, Joe; Nemeth, Mike, eds. (2006). 2006 Mississippi State Football Media Guide (PDF). Birmingham, Alabama: EBSCO Media. p. 126. Retrieved February 19, 2012.
- AP (November 11, 1937). "Sasse Confined to Home After Giving Up Post". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Retrieved February 11, 2011.
- Nemeth, Mike (2009). Mississippi State Football Vault (College Vault). Whitman Publishing. ISBN 9780794828073.
- Charles "Bud" Wilkinson (PDF), College Football Historical Society Newsletter, Vol. VII, No. II, August 1994.
- Wade Walker Records by Year, College Football Data Warehouse, retrieved June 17, 2009.
- Michael B. Ballard, Maroon and White: Mississippi State University, 1878-2003, p. 144, University Press of Mississippi, 2008, ISBN 1-57806-999-8.
- Strange, Mike. "Davis, former SEC coach, dies at 87", Knoxville News Sentinel, March 31, 2009. Accessed April 6, 2009.
- via Associated Press'. "Ex-Bulldogs coach Davis dies at 87", ESPN, April 1, 2009. Accessed April 1, 2009.
- White, Gordon S.. Jr. "N. Carolina State Bows; Miss. State's Early Attack Tops N.C. State in Liberty Bowl, 16-12 Ball Barely Reaches Long March Starts", The New York Times, December 22, 1963. Accessed April 6, 2009.
- Via Associated Press. "Football, Athletic Heads Out at Mississippi State", The New York Times, December 11, 1966. Accessed April 6, 2009.
- via United Press International. "Shira Gets Two Posts At Mississippi State", The New York Times, January 12, 1967. Accessed April 6, 2009.
- 32nd Blue-Gray Tilt Set in Montgomery, Sarasota Journal, December 26, 1969.
- Burial to be in Starkville; Shira Funeral Services Today, Florence Times-Tri Cities Daily, January 3, 1976.
- 1975 probation announcement
- Mississippi State penalized for violations in football
- "Croom receives AFCA regional award". The ClarionLedger. Retrieved 2012-10-23.
- "Croom named SEC's best; Coach honored by conference, media". The ClarionLedger. Retrieved 2012-10-23.
- "ESPN film examines Croom s legacy as MSU head coach". djournal.com. Retrieved 2012-10-23.
- "Miss. State's Nick Bell dies of cancer". 2010-10-02. Retrieved 2010-10-02.
- Shug Jordan: 'The cowbells have no place in football': The War Eagle Reader
- Did Auburn players ring cowbells during a Mississippi State game in the late 1960s?
- Shug Jordan: ‘The cowbells have no place in football’: The War Eagle Reader
- Former AU quarterback Phil Gargis talks about the 1974 Auburn-Mississippi State game that led to cowbell ban
- The University of Alabama tried to buy 1,000 cowbells from Mississippi State to bring to the 1974 Iron Bowl
- Texas fans took cowbells to Gator Bowl to annoy Auburn
- Mississippi State considered handheld mirrors, cow tails as replacement traditions when cowbells were banned in 1975
- Mississippi State fan sues Auburn, SEC over confiscated cowbell; calls rule ‘unconstitutional’: The War Eagle Reader
- Mississippi State considered handheld mirrors, cow tails as replacement traditions when cowbells were banned in 1975
- 2011 Mississippi State Football Media Guide, pp. 86–92
- Forde, Pat (2008-12-11). "Mississippi State hires Florida coordinator as coach". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2011-07-31.
- http://www.hailstate.com/SportSelect.dbml?&DB_OEM_ID=16800&SPID=10997&SPSID=90894 Football - 2014 Coaching Staff
- "SEC Future Football Schedule Rotation Announced". fbschedules.com. Retrieved 2014-06-14.
- "Mississippi State Bulldogs Football Schedules and Future Schedules". fbschedules.com. Retrieved 2012-02-26.