Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Rick Cleveland gives out bouquets and more bouquets

Grading Mississippi student-athletes in the still-young college football season:

President's list: Ole Miss. The Rebels get an A-plus-plus. What's not to like? Ole Miss is 3-0 and averaging 64 points per game. The Rebs are a plus-6 in turnovers. The defense is salty. The offense is both efficient and explosive. The special teams have been especial.

Keep in mind, the Rebels have played without their best player, left tackle Laremy Tunsil, who might be the one guy in the country who could block teammate Robert Nkemdiche if called upon to do so. (I would not bet my life on this, however.)

The re-worked offensive line went into Tuscaloosa against the best front seven this side of the NFL and more than held its own. And we haven't even gotten to the best part.

Chad Kelly, the juco transfer quarterback, has been nearly perfect. Stress-less performances against Tennessee-Martin and Fresno State were one thing. Smart folks wanted to see how he would perform after getting hit and under pressure. We saw. He answered all those questions at Tuscaloosa. He's the real deal. He has “it.”

This refrain may sound familiar but is nevertheless true: If the Rebels can avoid the injuries that wrecked their 2014 championship hopes, they have a really good chance to be in the Final Four.

Honor roll: Mississippi State. That two-point loss to LSU doesn't look too awful after the Tigers' dominating performance against Auburn, does it? It appears now that the Bulldogs “held” Leonard Fournette to 159 yards. (While we're at it, give Fournette magna cum laude, the Rhodes scholarship or whatever the highest grade you can receive for two weeks of work. The guy is, well, he is to the point where we will be talking about Herschel, Bo and Leonard.)

State, 2-1 and headed to Auburn, faces a must-win situation on the Plains. The Bulldogs are far from a finished product. The secondary has been leaky. The offensive line needs work. But there's a lot of talent in Starkville, a lot of young talent that should only get better as the season progresses.

So much hinges on Saturday. They need to force Jeremy Johnson, the Auburn quarterback, to have to make plays. So far, he hasn't shown he can. Dak vs. Jeremy? No contest.

And if the Bulldogs get past Auburn, as they can and perhaps should, they then get a trip to College Station. Such is life in the SEC West.

Most improved: Without question, Southern Miss. And, yes, I realize a cynic would say the Golden Eagles didn't have far to go to be most improved.

But the Golden Eagles appear vastly improved. They even look better, much more sleek, stronger and more fit. They really did play well against Mississippi State, looking like they belonged on the same field. They toyed with Austin Peay and then survived their own errors and one of the best quarterbacks in the country (Tyler Jones) nobody has ever heard of in a 56-50 victory over Texas State.

Looking back over USM's proud history that road victory in San Marcos, Texas, might not look like much. But compared to the last three years, it is a huge step forward. USM won a game it would have lost last year, the year before or the year before that. That's progress.

Next: Nebraska, at Nebraska. The Golden Eagles will be huge underdogs, but if they can protect Nick Mullens — a huge if — they can make it really interesting. Given time, Mullens is accurate and his arm strength will surprise you. He has thrown for 913 yards and eight touchdowns (vs. three interceptions) in three games.

And in the SWAC: Alcorn, 2-1, gets a B. Jackson State and Mississippi Valley, at 0-3, get Fs. Valley has been outscored 172-17. JSU has given up 52 per game. The only way to go is up. They play one another Oct. 31 at Itta Bena. Meanwhile, neither wants a piece of D-II Delta State (another A-plus), undefeated and averaging 50 points per game.


Rick Cleveland ( is executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.


Anonymous said...

Rick Cleveland (and his brother Bobby was great too) is a jewel for this state. How and why in the hell the CL didn't do anything and everything it could to keep him on board in more of a full time capacity is far beyond me. I am admittedly a neophyte when it comes to print media business practices etc., but this guy just brings it in every way every time he sits down to put a story together. He has NEVER disappointed.
Thank you RICK!!!!

Anonymous said...

the CL couldn't afford to pay him and many other veteran reporters. I've heard he wanted out as well...

Anonymous said...

The three research universities may all end up in a bowl this season. When was the last time that happened?

bill said...

All three went to a bowl game in 2000 and MSU and Southern Miss won. All three went to a bowl game in 1999 and all three won. If memory serves, and it usually does, Mississippi was the only state to go 3-0 that year.

Tee It Up On The 35 said...

The CL is using the prior salary of Rick Cleveland to pay the salaries of three (maybe four) young yankees who consider themselves expert on 'Football In The South'. One is named, of all things, Weiner.

Anonymous said...

One of the young Yankees, Courtney Cronin, knows a hell of a lot more football than some posters to Kingfish's last attempt at a "hottest reporter" poll.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS