By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
August is that most burdensome of months, when the unrelenting heat and seemingly interminable wait for the college football season conspire to make us all a bit grumpy.
For people like you and I, we reserve the right to wish this month would sink into the abyss so that Sept. 1 could arrive more expediently. Mississippi State’s football players can harbor no such desires.
Today, the Bulldogs report for preseason camp, with the first practice set for Thursday. This is when the players step into the annual crucible, a place where their will and focus are severely tested. There’s plenty of work afoot.
But I’m not going to romanticize or overhype the coming weeks of toil. Ultimately, it’s just football practice, and since I’ll be seeing very little of it, there’s no reason to get all worked up about it.
See, Dan Mullen has limited public viewing of practices to Saturday, when two sessions will be held. On that day, fans (voluntarily) and media (dutifully) will stand in the hellish Mississippi heat for two-plus hours to watch the tedious work that undergirds what MSU hopes will be a productive autumn.
Practice accessibility is another topic for another day (a day that’s coming soon), but it’s just one of a few signs that Mullen is closing ranks more than ever this year. Over the next month, he and his team will be tucked away on the practice fields, emerging afterwards to tell us what they want to be heard.
We’ll receive updates on how Mullen sees the Bulldogs progressing, and we’ll occasionally speak with assistant coaches and players to assess the same and to pursue our normal checklist of preseason story lines.
This will go on for four weeks, but it will feel like a Sisyphean exercise. August has a way of stubbornly clinging to the calendar, mocking us as we mark off the days with what seems to be disappearing ink.
Reaching a fever pitch
Perhaps I’m being too negative about August. After all, preseason chatter will reach a fever pitch, and that’s good for business. The closed practices will allow speculation to run even more rampant than normal among fans, which will keep the message boards and rumor mills plenty busy.
Not having to stand around at practice will give me more time to work on preseason stories and the like, although that material will no doubt suffer a bit due to the lack of access (simple cause-and-effect). I doubt most fans/readers will notice or care, at least those who prefer spin over substance.
At risk of being mocked, I will paraphrase Green Day here: Wake me up when August ends.
Brad Locke (firstname.lastname@example.org) covers Mississippi State for the Daily Journal and blogs daily at NEMS360.com