Folks, I am absolutely thrilled to have this back. I love it because y’all are generally good at giving me some nonsense to have some fun with, but sometimes y’all ask legitimate sports questions that I’m not thinking of in that exact way.
But let’s be real with one another: the Mailbag is known for its nonsense, and that’s where we’ll start.
- And we’ll start with the king of Mississippi State-related nonsense: @cristilmethod. How much of Nick Saban do you believe Alabama has already replaced with advanced synthetic technology and do you think they have a long-term strategy to make him immortal?
See, I think of this the other way around. I think Nick Saban is already a form of highly advanced technology and he is getting Alabama to turn those around him into similarly incredible technology.
Look at all the coaching turnover recently. Alabama has lost both coordinators in each of the last two seasons and countless assistants in that time, too. Why? Programming errors. Alabama didn’t quite calibrate it right, which is why Alabama got blown out in the championship game and why those coaches have since been replaced. Now think back to the early part of this decade, when the University of Alabama started making bigger investments in its engineering department, creating better facilities for those folks. Coincidence? I think not!
As to Saban’s potential immortality: the man is 67, looks like he’s 55, works like he’s 25 and does it all with at least one grandchild running around. Frankly, I can’t prove that he isn’t immortal already.
- We actually have a lot of sports questions to get to, but we have another Alabama-related question so let’s do that now. Heath (@Dhmorrison7) asks — Is it true that Alabama has hired Bully to be their new mascot and will play Don’t Stop Believin’ at the beginning of the fourth quarter?
Yes, Alabama has taken a lot from Mississippi State recently, but they won’t take Bully, and here’s why.
Allow me to quote Alabama’s fight song: “Go teach the Bulldogs to behave, send the Yellow Jackets to a watery grave.” This puts the Crimson Tide squarely in the market of dog obedience training that includes an aquatic element. Bully doesn’t need either, because he’s obviously a good boy who has mastered walking on an underwater treadmill. Alabama will be taking their Bulldog business elsewhere.
- Alright, let’s do some real sports talk here. Patrick Bell (@PBell97) — After Coach Huff’s leaving, you think we have any chance at all of landing Jerrion Ealy?
As much as I’m not a fan of it, departing position coaches do make an impact on recruiting decisions. It’s just the reality of it. But I will say this: coaches and programs are very good at selling what they have and making recruits forget about what they don’t have. So I’m sure when MSU is putting the full court press on Ealy, they make sure his mind isn’t on Huff and is on his replacement (Terry Richardson).
But, this isn’t the usual departing assistant coach. This is an assistant coach leaving for a conference foe and a conference foe that just so happens to be recruiting Ealy. Yet, there’s another catch with his recruitment, and this one benefits MSU: baseball.
I’m not going to pretend to have any inside information on how baseball — college or pro — is factoring into his decision, and I imagine almost everyone that is trying to make people think they have that information is misleading you. I believe it to be this simple: pro baseball hurts everyone at the college level, college baseball helps schools such as MSU and not so much on college baseball helps schools such as Alabama. This puts MSU fans in kind of a tough place where you’re rooting for baseball with Ealy but not so much so that he gets the big MLB Draft money, but that’s the situation you’re in.
That’s why I think however baseball ultimately plays into this is far more important than any one assistant coach.
- A brief note on a similar subject before we go forward, in the form of a question from @PrestonCoats — With 4 position coaches leaving after year 1 of the Joe Moorhead era, what kind of message do you think this sends recruits/current players?
I think the hires Moorhead makes and how they perform will send the real message.
First of all, I think time will be kind to these departures. Let’s break these down one by one. Mark Hudspeth — a man with 14 seasons of head-coaching experience — left to be a head coach. Luke Getsy, having spent the last four years in the NFL, returned to it and to the franchise he spent those four years working for. Brian Baker and Charles Huff joined one of two programs that has had a shot at the national title every single year over the last five years, and specifically for Huff, a school that generates head-coaching candidates like crazy.
Everything in there makes complete sense, right? Of course there are underlying details that paint a less flattering picture, but those details are just as plausible as the explanations above. It’s possible that those things prove to be the reality in the years ahead.
Ultimately, Moorhead put the standard on himself of taking the program from good to great. He’s going to have to do that with the people he hires, and therein lies the real message to recruits and players.
- We’ll come back to a couple of Mississippi State questions after a couple of bigger sports ones. First, from @Wesley_Johnson — As sports commissioner, how would you change the rules to let athletes celebrate or taunt opponents?
Maybe this says more about my athletic demeanor than anything else, but for the most part, I believe if you want the person to not celebrate then you should not give the person something to celebrate. If somebody does an annoying home run trot, well, you can save yourself from seeing it in person by not allowing a home run.
With that in mind, here’s the proposal: all celebrations are allowed as long as they don’t involve the celebrating team making contact with the opponent. So you can say or do whatever you want, you just can’t shove an opponent or do something dangerous, etc. Ultimately this thing will normalize because all these players want to do is have fun, anyway, and if they do anything in their celebration that negatively impacts winning, their coaches will take care of it. This environment seems pretty conducive to fun celebrations to me.
- And another from Rob Montgomery, @10RobertWilliam — Who’s your pick for the Super Bowl? What’s the first Super Bowl you remember watching?
Root for these bunch of Patriots? Never. Plus the Rams are one of very few teams in this league actually attempting to do unique things, and we need to encourage all forms of innovation that we can get from the NFL. Go Rams.
The first Super Bowl I remember is Super Bowl XXXVI (Feb. 2002), the Patriots against the Rams. The upstart, rag-tag bunch of Patriots up against The Greatest Show on Turf. I remember thinking the game would be a blowout. If only I knew what the ensuing 15 years would hold.
- What we’re doing from here: One MSU sports question and two about me. @cnb0745 has a simple but brutally difficult question— Best Football player in Mississippi State history?
Jace Christmann. Need I go further?
I went to Matt about this — few others would be more qualified on this subject, right? — and got a list to start the conversation that should just about do it: Dak Prescott, Johnie Cooks, Eric Moulds and Fred Smoot. I might add Johnathan Banks of my own accord, but I think that’s a pretty good place to start it. (I’m sure this will inspire an incredible amount of debate, which I’m fine with. Bring it.)
I’m going to give Dak a slight edge over Johnie Cooks. Maybe it’s recency bias, maybe it’s quarterback bias, who knows. I just feel like Dak accomplished more than Cooks did.
- Alright, two on the personal note. First from @BearionLedger — Are you a fan of any school?
Sad but true, you kind of have to give that up in this profession. Unless you’re in a position like this one as a North Dakota State grad, thus it’s almost certain your favorite school and the school you cover won’t intertwine, you have to give that up. Especially for me — I’m an Alabama grad. I do maintain my fanhood in Atlanta United, the Oakland A’s and the Nashville Predators, and I’m starting to get into Premier League with Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle.
I do, however, find myself following along teams that I find incredibly fun, so there’s an element of fanhood there. I loved following Hawaii early in the football season, and who didn’t root for Purdue after they trounced Ohio State?
- And finally, from @Bryce_Bean — What’s next for Matt Wyatt Media? Will we get film review for other sports?
That last part is certainly an option, actually something Matt and I have been discussing some over the last couple of days.
This that you’re reading is a little glimpse into the future of Matt Wyatt Media — the written word. It’s not something Matt has had before and it’s something that we will have. What we’re going for is high-impact when we do write, and we’ve got some stuff in the works that will be just that.
Many of you have also noticed the new podcast — Praise The Lord & Talk ‘Dogs — on the women’s basketball team, and more podcasting stuff is on the way.
And yes, the video thing is where more manpower can be really helpful. Matt’s a busy man of his own accord, and the video projects that he is known for are not easy. They take a lot of time and energy, and it’s a lot for one man to handle. Now he has two on it, and one that is in Starkville — thus close to Mississippi State — and can create opportunities that way.
In the immediate future, it means more in-depth coverage of the women’s basketball team through Praise The Lord & Talk ‘Dogs. Going a little beyond that, there’s a baseball season and football spring practice to handle. And Matt Wyatt Media currently has double the workforce it has ever had, so you can expect a workload that reflects that.