Mississippi State hires Mike Leach away from Washington St

Mike Leach, seen here while he was the head football coach at Washington State, was introduced last week as the new head coach at Mississippi State. Mississippi also hired a coach recently, Lane Kiffin. Young Kwak/AP file

One summer night a long time ago, some buddies and I sought an impromptu game of basketball. It was the wee hours of a bachelor party. We needed to kill time before a dawn round of par-3 golf at LaFortune Park. We needed to sweat out some of the drinking we’d done.

Our designated driver noticed a small court outside a school on South Harvard — Grimes Elementary.

We pulled over and got after it. The goals were low but we treated them kindly, enforcing a “no dunking” rule. We trash-talked like we were back in high school again, which basically we were that night.

We played for two hours or so, then plopped down on the blacktop under the moon’s glow. We cracked wise about the groom we’d lost to tequila hours earlier. We retold old stories about girls and teachers and games so we could laugh at them again. We said we couldn’t believe we were getting old, like we had any idea.

It was one of those beautifully spontaneous moments that appear out of thin air in your home town. We had Grimes to thank for that, and whoever built that basketball court. We’ll always have Grimes to thank for that, even after it’s gone.

TPS is closing the school, along with Jones, Wright and Mark Twain Elementaries, to save $2-$3 million. That’s the superintendent’s recommendation, anyway, as of a meeting last Monday night.

The decision prompted an editorial in Friday’s Tulsa World. The title: “TPS cuts will be emotional.”

Got that right.

Now you know what made me cry last week.

This made me laugh

Mississippi State hired Mike Leach Friday, and suddenly there was more talk about Leach vs. new Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin in the Egg Bowl than the Clemson-LSU national championship game.

Imagine Kansas State hiring a coach and the college football world obsessing over Kansas-K-State. Or Arizona State hiring a guy and everyone poring over Arizona-ASU. Indiana hiring someone and Purdue-Indiana becoming the rage. North Carolina State hiring a coach and UNC-NC State taking over.

You can’t. The only conference with the power to take two middling programs in a back-burner rivalry and make national headlines with two head coaching hires is the SEC.

We poke fun at “It Just Means More,” the omnipresent slogan of the SEC, but it doesn’t change the fact it is 100 percent accurate.

At least when it comes to football.

And this made me laugh

Leach has gone off on mascot tangents in the past, so you figured he’d get a question about the Bulldog at his introduction. He did.

“I’ll tell you this, they call them bulldogs for a reason. They’re built for combat,” Leach said. “Young kids, a lot of times, start out afraid of them, maybe for good reason. I know I’m scared of this one, so I’m glad I represent him. You don’t want to get bit by him, I’ll tell you that. That’s the dog version of a leather jacket.

“He’s like the Fonzie of bulldogs, so you don’t mess with him.”

Aaaaayyyy!

This made me laugh, then think

The XFL unveiled its playing rules last Tuesday. My favorite was the “shootout” format for overtime, borrowed from soccer and hockey.

One team takes possession at the 5-yard line and gets one play to score, then the other team takes over and runs its play. Two points for every score, with the overtime spanning up to five possessions each. The game ends when a team builds an insurmountable lead.

That seemed a little gimmicky. Since league headliners like commissioner Oliver Luck and Dallas Renegades coach Bob Stoops swore gimmicks had no place in XFL 2.0, I chuckled a bit.

Then I considered the odd overtime ways of the NFL and college football, and the disagreement and controversy inherent in their formats. Now I wonder…

Let’s give the XFL shootout a shot. Let’s see it in action.

Let’s see if Roger Goodell and Mark Emmert pay attention, and whether they learn something.

This made me think, then cry

Two press releases last Wednesday.

From the Oklahoma City Thunder: “In recognition of the approaching 25th anniversary of the 1995 Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing and the team’s 2020 City Edition uniform, the Thunder will underwrite admission to the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum for all visitors one day per month (the 25th) for the entire calendar year.”

From ripmedicaldebt.org: “Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young has partnered with RIP Medical Debt to relieve over a million dollars in past due medical debts for Atlanta residents who cannot pay them.”

The NBA continues to lap the professional sports field when it comes to awareness.

Oklahoma continues to crank out people and organizations among the most aware.

Guerin Emig 918-629-6229

guerin.emig

@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @GuerinEmig

Sports Columnist

Proud father of Gretchen and Holden. Devoted husband to Christy, who has been my best friend since biology class at Booker T. Washington. I covered the Oklahoma Sooners for 15 years. That was both challenging and rewarding. Now I get to write columns.