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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mississippi State Bulldogs. Why?

This is an excerpt from the book 'The Totally Biased Guide to Southern College Football' by Pete Davis, available now on's Kindle for just 99 cents at:
And you can follow me on twitter: @petedavis1

            Based in Starkville.  Otherwise known as Starkvegas, Starkpatch, or just plain stark.
The natives here would like you to believe the town is named after some dude named Stark, maybe someone cool like Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man. The reality is the name comes from the one-word description given the place by the first settler.  He quickly became an ex-settler and kept moving. 
Starkville is the place mullets went to live.  It’s original name, and this is the gospel truth, was Boardtown.  Boredtown is more apt.
This is the place that arrested American icon Johnny Cash for picking flowers, which he immortalized in his song ‘Starkville City Jail’.  Johnny failed to mention he was three sheets to the wind at the time he was plucking the posies.
Cash is not the most infamous felon to walk these streets.  That ‘honor’ goes to George Kelly Barnes.  You may know him by his nickname Machine Gun Kelly.  Machine Gun matriculated at Mississippi State for two years while studying agriculture.  He was asked to leave when his unique and bullet-based method for eradicating the boll weevil destroyed the entire cotton crop in 1919.

                     MSU’s most famous and successful student, Machine Gun Kelly.
Charles Lindbergh landed here once.  Once.
Supposedly the sport of tee ball was invented here when local youths were slow to pick up the nuances of baseball.  Complicated maneuvers like throwing the ball and hitting the ball.  This was a source of endless shame to Starkville native Cool Papa Bell, one of the greatest baseball players of all time. 
            They play at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field.  Or is it Scott Wade Stadium at Davis Field?  Or Scott Davis Stadium at Wade Field?
            It was built in 1914, the same year Mississippi rejoined the Union.  The Holly plant lines the sideline fence forming a prickly barrier, but it’s not a problem since Bulldog fans never have a reason to storm the field.
            The Holly produces berries that are toxic to humans but not to the larva of the Double-striped Pug moth, which is a big booster of the program.
Starkville is where Christopher Walken goes for more cowbell.  Every fan brings one and rings it incessantly despite an SEC ban on the damn things.  They’re only supposed to ring them in between plays, but the average State fan can’t even read the rule much less follow it so they ring them all the time.  The use of so many cowbells has led to a massive problem of lost cattle roaming the state during football games.
It is the second-most annoying tradition in the Southeastern Conference, surpassed only by the Volunteers’ obsession with the song ‘Rocky Top’.  The song is more annoying because more people care about Tennessee football so more people have to hear it.
The origin of the cowbell tradition is nebulous, but most agree it started in the 1930s when a cow wandered onto the field during a game against Mississippi.  Why this one instance among many of cow-wandering at the cow college would garner attention in Starkville is a mystery, but since State won the game the students took a Hindu-like reverence to the cow as a good luck charm.  But unlike the Hindus these fans continued to eat their lucky charms.      
For awhile students would bring cows to the games, but they kept confusing them with their dates, so they brought only the cowbells.
It took decades before two professors in the 1960s got the idea to weld handles onto the bells, making them louder and easier to use.  Students make them on campus and sell them through the bookstore, which has plenty of room since it’s not cluttered up with any books.
The noise got so bad that in 1974 the conference passed a rule against artificial noisemakers at football and basketball games.  It was a 9 to 1 vote.  Ironically, State got confused and voted to ban the cowbell while Auburn mistakenly voted to keep it, believing at the time the vote they were casting was for more cows.
If you like what you've read so far just wait until you see the rest about LSU and all the other SEC schools, as well as Texas, Texas A&M, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Miami. It's all in 'The Totally Biased Guide to Southern College Football' by Pete Davis and available for the price of a Whopper Jr. on Kindle at:
And you can follow me on twitter: @petedavis1


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