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SMITH COLUMN: Super Bulldog Weekend gets jump Thursday

April 17, 2012

Smith

Once upon a time, Super Bulldog Weekend was just Super Saturday.

Mississippi State's spring homecoming has grown to the point that it takes more than just the weekend to fit in all of the activities.

Super Bulldog Weekend 2012 gets started on Thursday with the opening of the Southeastern Conference Men's Tennis Championships at A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre, while MSU opens its three-game Southeastern Conference baseball series against Tennessee at 6:30 p.m.

Even though starting everything a day early is unique and has been included as part of the entire weekend, circumstances pretty much caused the situation.

ESPNU will televise the opening baseball game between the Bulldogs and the Volunteers, and the SEC Men's Tennis Championships is a four-day event that must start on Thursday to get it all in.

The MSU men actually get a bye, being one of the top four seeds in the league. The Bulldogs play one of the winners from the first day in the quarterfinals on Friday at 11 a.m.

The championship takes place Sunday at 1 p.m.

It should be a fun week of tennis at Mississippi State where fans can come out to see some of the best men's tennis in the country. The SEC always seems to have national championship contenders with Georgia leading the way most of the time.

Don't be surprised if another set of Bulldogs, Mississippi State's version, has a chance to win the tournament. That would be a special accomplishment, especially in the year it hosts.

MSU men's tennis coach Per Nilsson has done an outstanding job with the program the last couple of seasons in winning the SEC Western Division title.

In baseball, the Bulldogs really need to make up some ground in the SEC standings.

There's no better time to do that than this week against Tennessee, which has a 7-8 conference mark and stands in fifth place in the SEC East and is the same position MSU holds in the SEC West. The Bulldogs have a 5-10 league mark at the halfway point of the schedule.

Hopefully the rain that's in the forecast will stay away and MSU can get all three of the games in. The Bulldogs must play and must win.

Since Thursday is part of the ESPNU/SEC Game of the Week package, there are some special things planned for Dudy Noble Field.

General admission ticket holders will be admitted to the chairback grandstand portion of the stadium, but season-ticket holders retain first priority on game day for their chairback seats.

MSU officials have also designated the game as “white-out” night, encouraging all fans to wear white to the televised game. The night will be capped with a postgame fireworks display. 

The series concludes with a 6:30 p.m. Friday game and a 1 p.m. first pitch on Saturday.

Other athletic activities planned for the Bulldogs are the softball series against Kentucky (5 p.m. Friday, noon Saturday, 1 p.m. Sunday), alumni softball, soccer and volleyball matches on Saturday, and Saturday’s Maroon-White spring football game.

MSU football coach Dan Mullen has been evaluating his players during spring practice and Saturday gives fans a good opportunity to do that themselves.

With the graduation of quarterback Chris Relf, this is Tyler Russell's opportunity to take control of the Bulldogs offense. He has a host of receivers to use in Chad Bumphis, Brandon Heavens, Arceto Clark, Ricco Sanders, former Meridian High School teammate Chris Smith, and others.
Defensively, MSU has some holes to fill, but have been real active and in attack mode during scrimmage action.

No matter if football, baseball, softball or tennis is your sport of choice to support, Super Bulldog Weekend offers just the right opportunity to do so.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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