DESTIN, Fla. – Mississippi State cowbells survived an unfavorable vote at the SEC business meetings and are still alive and ringing as focus shifts from debate to what matters most: casting votes.
That will come from school presidents on Friday.
On Wednesday, SEC athletics directors initially voted 10-2 against continuing the legislation put in place last year that determines appropriate times for MSU fans to ring bells at football games.
The school is subject to fines, and cowbells could be blacklisted from football games if fans fail to comply. Last year’s proposal passed on a one-year trial basis.
While the AD’s initially were against the bells, the league’s coaches, in their private meeting before a joint session with the directors, voted to continue the cowbell rule for another year.
The AD’s voted a second time and decided to recommend that the presidents continue the rule.
“I don’t want to share the vote. We had enough votes to get where we needed to get,” MSU athletics director Scott Stricklin said. “The football coaches’ vote was helpful, and the AD’s followed suit.”
Stricklin would not name the director who voted with him in the initial vote against the bells but said he was from a school that played at Davis-Wade Stadium last season.
MSU coach Dan Mullen said he was told by the conference office that the school was in “total compliance” with the guidelines in the last two home games.
Stricklin said a massive education program helped fans know the proper times to ring. That led to improvement in obeying the rule as the season went along.
Because the school was not in compliance for the first two games, it could still be fined $30,000.
There was very little discussion from the AD’s once the football coaches shared their vote, Stricklin said.
“I think there are a lot of misperceptions about it, but the coaches understand it really does not impact the game,” he said.
Mullen may also have impacted the coaches’ vote in his description of the funeral of MSU player Nick Bell when Bell’s mother, Linda Bell, rang a cowbell.
Stricklin described a scene at Davis-Wade Stadium when Bell’s mother was ringing the bell during the moment of silence to honor her son.
“It was one of the most moving things I’ve seen,” Stricklin said.
Mullen himself has become moved by cowbells over time, admitting that when he was hired as head coach he was “amused” by the practice.
“My stance is very different today,” he said. “I got to understand the tradition and the symbolism of what it means to so many people. It’s not something that just amusing.”
Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal