BRAD LOCKE: Ten things I learned this summer about Mississippi State athletics

TUPELO – OK, so we’re still smack dab in the middle of summer. But seeing as I’ve just completed my vacation – a lovely time in Destin, Fla., despite the tar balls and seaweed – my summer is pretty much over.
Things are slow right now, but SEC football media days start in two weeks (July 21-23), and not far behind will be August camp.
So I don’t think it’s premature to give you a report reminiscent of your first week of grade school. Instead of What I Did This Summer, I’ll give you 10 Things I’ve Learned (About MSU Sports) This Summer, in completely random order.
You’ll notice most of them are basketball-related. That’s because MSU’s offseason has been far more entertaining than its regular season was.
1. Renardo Sidney is gone in 2011. He said so on his Twitter page the night of the NBA Draft: “Renardo Sidney, Dee Bost, Ravern Johnson, Kodi Augustus, and Elgin Baily [sic] next NBA history 1st round picks!!!”
It was expected that the 6-foot-10 Sidney, who missed his freshman year due to an eligibility battle with the NCAA, would be one-and-done once he actually took the floor for MSU. He could be joking, of course, because even Sidney should know those other four will be lucky to even get drafted.
2. Phil Turner and Rick Stansbury don’t exchange Christmas cards. Turner had his scholarship pulled via snail mail a couple of weeks ago, and it’s either his fault or Stansbury’s fault, depending on who you believe. Or maybe both of them are at fault.
3. Dee Bost ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed, as they say. First came the point guard’s inexplicable decision to remain in the NBA Draft pool past the NCAA’s May 8 deadline, and then came another inexplicable decision to try to return to MSU – he’s enrolled in summer classes and filed an appeal with the NCAA for reinstatement.
4. Stansbury’s recruiting mettle will be tested. With top assistant Robert Kirby leaving for Georgetown last month, Stansbury’s reputation as a strong recruiter is on the line.
Kirby deserves a good bit of credit for bringing great players to Starkville, most recently UTEP transfer Arnett Moultrie. Let’s see if the flow of talent recedes the next couple of years.
5. Five wins=ticket-buying frenzy. So Dan Mullen, in his first year at the helm, led MSU to five wins. Naturally, that’s translated into season ticket sales going through the roof.
As of Tuesday morning, athletics director Scott Stricklin said MSU had sold 39,227 football season tickets. They’re counting the 11,000 student tickets they expect to sell, and assuming that happens, State is on pace to break last year’s record of 40,901.
6. Speaking of Stricklin, he passed his first major test as an AD: The Great Cowbell Compromise of 2010.
It was kind of a lose-lose situation for Stricklin, but he made the right call here. The SEC was going to crack down on MSU fans’ use of cowbells at football games, so Stricklin played ball.
He could have been defiant and echoed gun owners: “You can have my cowbell when you rip it from my cold, dead hands.” Instead, he got cowbells legalized, and now it’s up to fans to use them at the appropriate times, and I’m sure the sober ones will comply.
7. MSU don’t need no stinkin’ Jeremiah Masoli. The ex-Oregon QB, who was kicked off the team after run-ins with the police, was reportedly considering transferring to State. Louisiana Tech seems to be the leader, though.
Masoli is talented, but I don’t think Mullen would need or want him. The Bulldogs are fine at QB with junior Chris Relf, redshirt freshman Tyler Russell and true freshman Dylan Favre.
8. Defensive tackle James Carmon, a junior college transfer, has dropped about 40 pounds and is still a large individual. He will make some noise in the SEC this year.
9. Someone needs to tell Carmon to find that MSU student from MTV’s “The Real World” and haul her sorry butt off to some other school. The fact she wanted to be on that show tells me all I need to know about her.
10. An ESPN cameraman, I’m not. But, my newest iPhone has video capability, which means y’all will be seeing moving pictures on my blog and NEMS360.com.

Yay, technology!
Brad Locke (brad.locke@djournal.com) covers Mississippi State for the Daily Journal and blogs daily at NEMS360.com.

Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal