Friday, 5 December 2003

Progress and powder-blue helmets

Both Robert Prather (a Mississippi State grad) and Steven Taylor have noted the hiring of Sylvester Croom as head coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs, and believe it is a positive step, a position I generally agree with—although, like Steven, I wish the reason why the national media was paying attention to my adopted state was due to something other than race. (Apparently, there’s a law that the only stories about Mississippi are allowed to be about race—directly or tangentially—or WorldCom, neither of which usually reflect well on us. Ex-governor Kirk Fordice’s now-abandoned slogan—“Only Positive Mississippi Spoken Here”—reflects that frustration.)

Of course, the inevitable comparisons between State and Ole Miss had to be trotted out, both by ESPN, as noted by Steven Godfrey in Thursday’s Daily Mississippian, and by others—even relatively local media—as Spencer Bryan notes in today’s DM. ESPN dragged out decades-old footage of Rebel fans waving Confederate battle flags at Ole Miss home games—dating from when Ole Miss was too cheap to paint the helmets that came from the factory—while failing to note the inconvenient fact that purple-and-gold faux Confederate banners adorning LSU fans outnumbered the genuine article at the recent LSU-Ole Miss matchup. On the academic side of the ledger, Ole Miss’ record of hiring and promoting minorities is far better than State’s. And if the Rebels had gone 2–10 instead of 9–3, I think there’s a good chance that Croom would have been introduced at a very similar-looking press conference here in Oxford this week instead.

Other takes are at Outside the Beltway, The American Mind, and StateDOG.