/Covering a winner No, it doesn’t get old

Covering a winner No, it doesn’t get old

Vic Schaefer, the State women’s coach, has given me plenty to write about in recent seasons. They have been in the national championship games for the past two years and seem determined to get there again. This is the point. These State women gave me an idea of what it must be like to cover Alabama football or Kentucky basketball. These State women win. They win because that’s what they do. They are the windshield and the bugs are the opposition. Schaefer said the other night, after State had smacked Clemson 85-61, to advance to the second round: “It has reached the point when when we lose a match it’s almost like the sky is falling.” “Our people expect us win.”
Yes, exactly like Crimson Tide basketball and Crimson Tide football. Even those teams aren’t winning at the same rate State has been winning in recent seasons. Over the past five seasons, State has won 158 games and counting. The Bulldogs have a record of 103-9 in the last three seasons. The Bulldogs are 103-9. They don’t only defeat people but flatten them. Like Alabama football or Kentucky basketball. They win championships. They are awarded Coach of the Year and Player of the Year. They are the dominant All-Conference team. They do it with class. They often hug their fans and pose for photos after a win. They have been called rock stars in Mississippi. In 50 years of sports writing in Mississippi, I have never seen anything quite like it. I was not working during the glory years of Ole Miss football under Johnny Vaught. It was something like this: Always in the Top 10, always searching for a national championship, almost always winning, sometimes by large margins. Delta State was winning like State’s women won. I didn’t cover it. State baseball has seen its moments in my career. The national spotlight has been shared by Ole Miss, State, and Southern Miss. Alcorn had some great Davey Whitney-coached teams. However, there hasn’t been the sustained, national and top-level success that these Bulldog women have achieved. I have mostly watched my friends who are covering Kentucky basketball and Alabama football do this. Yes, sometimes I was jealous. Sometimes we’ve been teased. I was there when State beat No. In 1980, State beat No. 1 Alabama and Bear Bryant 3-1. This ended years of domination. In 1996, I was there when Richard Williams took State to the SEC Tournament title. He beat proud Kentucky and Rick Pitino in the finals. But those moments were fleeting. Do you want to see proof? You want proof? A few days later, Alabama defeated Baylor in the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day. See? You should also know what happened in 1996 when State defeated Kentucky in the SEC Tournament, and then went on to The Meadowlands for the Final Four. You do, don’t you? It was won by Kentucky. Syracuse defeated State, and Kentucky beat Syracuse for another Natty. This is what happened. It was what happened. Is it getting old all the traveling to regionals, big-bowl games and national championships? Are they running out of adjectives to describe it all I now know. They don’t. It’s okay to say “splendid” a lot. There’s only one step left for State’s women. I’m just there for the ride, all flight delays included.