By MATTHEW STEVENS
For the first time in quite awhile, Scott Stricklin admittedly can’t wait to hear from the Southeastern Conference office this week.
In its second week of its campaign to save the cowbell, Mississippi State’s athletic director was again very pleased with his fan base over their responsibility in upholding the league’s artificial noisemaker legislation in Saturday night’s game against Arkansas.
“To the other schools that were concerned about us making noise with our artificial noisemaker and it affecting the game, it didn’t happen,” Stricklin said. “I thought it was a noticeable difference in type of sound but not amount of sound from timeouts and when Arkansas came to the line of scrimmage.”
An SEC spokesman said anything regarding noisemakers and SEC policy will be addressed after the season has concluded.
Stricklin mentioned his excitement and pride over the usage of the school symbol at the end of the emotional honor for deceased sophomore defensive end Nick Bell.
After the Mississippi State band spelled out Bell's number 36 in its formation, a moment of silence was observed similarly to what occurred last week at Alabama. However, State officials put its unique twist on it as Nick Bell’s mother Linda, who hadn’t been seen publicly in Starkville since her son’s memorial service, rang a cowbell ending the quiet.
“Everything we do is talking about creating a great experience and the deal with Ms. Bell Saturday night was a special moment and the way it involved the cowbell made it a special experience.”
Stricklin said he hadn’t attempted to or been contacted by league officials to get any instant feedback but did feel like a Saturday proved to him that the noise level at Davis-Wade Stadium, while a bit different, can be achieved without violating the cowbell policy.
On a third-down play in the second quarter, Arkansas was unable to withstand the stadium noise and was forced to call a timeout. However, the problems didn’t end there. Razorbacks quarterback Ryan Mallett still couldn’t get the snap count forcing an illegal procedure penalty and then another timeout deep in Bulldogs territory.
After that play, Stricklin tweeted ‘Great cowbell etiquette, Bulldog fans. Way to go!!!!! Those screaming voices make this place LOUD!’.
The league office has informed MSU officials that the school will be fined, but Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin says the exact dollar amount on the punishment will be determined at the end of the season.
Stricklin, who said he wasn’t surprised at the action when he was notified, sent out an e-mail before the final two home games to all Bulldog Club members and season ticket holders warning fans that SEC officials are prepared to go back to the old ban on artificial noisemakers starting in 2011.
Bumphis and Smith likely to play with foot injuries
Mullen addressed injury concerns to sophomore receivers Chad Bumphis and Chris Smith after both were nursing foot injuries during the overtime periods of last Saturday night’s loss to Arkansas. Bumphis was lined up on the final play that resulted in Bulldogs quarterback Chris Relf getting sacked.
Smith showed up in the Bryan Building with a protective boot on his left foot when he was doing media interviews. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound sophomore had a career-high five catches for 78 catches and was one of nine receivers to catch a pass Saturday night.
“We expect him to have a performance like that every week because we know he has the ability,” Mississippi State offensive coordinator Les Koenning said. “What people need to understand is that it’s about just understanding the route, running it correctly and whether the defense wants to leave you open.”
Smith was wearing the same looking protective wear that Bumphis had on during the postgame interviews Saturday night on his right foot.
“Some of the guys will be limited in practice this week,” Mullen said. “After taking 102 snaps…that’s a pretty big workload but after talking to the trainers, we expect everybody to play.”
Ole Miss suspends leading receiver
Ole Miss quarterback Jeremiah Masoli will be without his favorite passing target when his offense steps onto the field Saturday night.
Rebels head coach Houston Nutt announced Monday afternoon that wide receiver Melvin Harris has been suspended for the rivalry game for violation of unspecified team rules.
Harris, a 6-foot-7 target, currently leads the Rebels with 30 receptions, and is second in receiving yards (408) and touchdowns (3).
Lionel Breaux, who has seven catches this season, is listed behind Harris on the Rebels’ depth chart. Harris has started four of the 11 games he’s played in this season. Breaux currently has only seven catches for 67 yards.