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By BRIAN HAWKINS
ESPN college football analyst Todd Blackledge had barely set foot inside the Little Dooey Friday afternoon when owner Barry Wood handed him a cup of the barbecue restaurantâ€™s famous sweet iced tea.
â€śHeâ€™s got to have that tea,â€ť said Wood with a smile as he greeted the former Penn State star quarterback turned broadcaster known for this â€śToddâ€™s Taste of the Townâ€ť segments on ESPN.
In the segments, Blackledge visits a local notable restaurant in the city or town where heâ€™s on assignment with ESPN, samples its menu offerings and features the eatery during the game broadcast.
His visit to Starkville for this weekendâ€™s ESPN-televised game between Mississippi State and Arkansas brought him to the Little Dooey, and that suited Wood just fine.
â€śHe called me Thursday morning and said he was coming,â€ť said Wood. â€śI was at our store in Oxford, so I came on back.â€ť
Blackledge and his crew were taping this weekâ€™s â€śTaste of the Townâ€ť segment at the Dooey during the day Friday. Before taping the segment, however, Blackledge visited the restaurant Thursday night to sample its famed cuisine, already a favorite with his ESPN colleagues on the â€śCollege Gamedayâ€ť show â€” Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso and Chris Fowler.
â€śI tried a little bit of everything on the menu last night. I like to know about the food before I do a segment,â€ť Blackledge said as he made notes for Fridayâ€™s taping from one of the Dooeyâ€™s famous front porch rocking chairs.
Sampling the array of items on the Dooey menu, Blackledge quickly found his favorites, along with the aforementioned sweet tea.
â€śIâ€™m a big catfish fan, and I love the pulled pork,â€ť he said.
Blackledgeâ€™s â€śToddâ€™s Taste of the Townâ€ť segment will air during tonightâ€™s MSU game broadcast, most likely during the third quarter, his production staff said.
For Wood and the Little Dooey staff, the televised segment is the latest in a long line of national recognitions the restaurant has received. His friendship with Blackledge makes it even more special, Wood said.
â€śWhen I first met Todd four years ago, we became friends. I have been blessed to know him and all the folks from ESPN and all the sports networks,â€ť said Wood. â€śItâ€™s been a wonderful experience.â€ť