Well, it appears we have made up for lost time. The Blog Bag has come off hiatus with a vengeance, and y'all gave me some very good questions. I believe my answers are equally as good.
It's a long entry, so you might as well knock off work a little early, grab a beer and settle in. Enjoy.
Q: How many football scholarships does State have available for the 2013 football signing class? Basically how many can the Bulldogs sign in 2013?
A: The number could fluctuate, but it will most certainly be less than 25. My man Paul Jones of Bulldawgs247.com expects MSU to sign between 20 and 22 players. The Bulldogs won't be losing many scholarship seniors, and they signed 28 in the 2012 class. The limit is 25, but since it signed only 22 the year before, MSU was able to count three of its early enrollees back to the 2011 class.
A team spokesman said MSU should be at the 85-scholarship limit once the season begins, and as usual, that will involve some walk-ons being granted scholarships.
Q: What game are you most excited to watch this year?
A: I assume you mean football. I really want to see how well MSU matches up with Alabama this year, especially if it can get off to a strong start. The game I'm most personally excited about, though, is the one at Kentucky. That means another trip to lovely Lexington, where they make lots of whiskey.
Q: How big a year do you see Joe Morrow and Nick Griffin having?
A: Much is expected of Morrow, the 6-foot-5 redshirt freshman receiver. He'll add a new dimension to MSU's passing game, being a big target who can get down the field. He's obviously got zero SEC experience, so I don't know how heavily MSU will lean on him this year, especially with so many options in the passing game.
As for Griffin, he looks like a lead tailback to me. He's healthy now, and I really think he could surprise some folks the way Vick Ballard did two years ago, even though they're kind of different runners. LaDarius Perkins will get his share of carries, too, so I don't know how big a year Griffin will have statistically.
Q: Any word on Rodney Hood? I hear Duke.
A: The former MSU hoopster was supposed to decide soon between Duke and Ohio State.
Q: How long will it be before a Mississippi kid feels comfortable signing with MSU basketball, the way several were screwed over the last several years (Hood, Romero Osby, etc.)?
A: I don't know that anybody has gotten "screwed," except for Phil Turner, and it seems like plenty of Mississippi kids have been comfortable signing with MSU in the past. The future could be another matter, because this program is in rebuilding mode, even if Rick Ray doesn't like to use that term. It's notable that of the three signees remaining from the fall, two are in-state kids (Jackson's Fred Thomas and Starkville's Gavin Ware), while the two signees that left are from Texas. Of the four Ray has signed, one is from Memphis, one is from New York (via Illinois), one is from Charlotte (via Wisconsin), and one is from Arizona (via East Mississippi CC).
Q: I realize that a large degree of MSU baseball's hitting woes can be attributed to the fact that its lineup features mainly great defensive players that obviously aren't that adept at big-time hitting. But that being said, do you think there is any consideration being given to a change in the hitting coach that might make a difference? To your knowledge, has Rafael Palmeiro ever been offered a chance to help with the hitting? If not, why not? His name is on the (practice facility).
A: To answer the last question first, the only way Palmeiro would be allowed to work with MSU's hitters if he were hired as an assistant coach (and hey, there's an opening). Per NCAA bylaw 220.127.116.11.1.4, "outside consultants" are not allowed to have any contact with student-athletes, which means they cannot provide any type of instruction, on or off the field. Remember the Jackie Sherrill deal a few years ago? (CLICK HERE) Yeah, same thing.
I had a good conversation with head coach John Cohen today, and he expects the hitting to improve next year. This year's lineup was heavily populated by young players, and the few experienced players kept getting hurt.
"Losing what we did from the year before (2011 season) and the nature of having to go to junior college guys the minute we stepped on campus, all that was kind of set in motion before," Cohen said. "I really believe we have the makings of a really good, solid offensive club. Having said that, the focus for our team is always going to be pitching and defense in our ballpark."
I'll blog about my conversation with Cohen later on.
Q: Is there any chance of seeing a tougher out-of-conference schedule for football any time soon?
A: I had a good conversation with athletics director Scott Stricklin about that on Wednesday, and I'll do a story on it next week. MSU's non-conference schedule is set through 2016 (except for filling in some I-AA opponents), and the strongest non-SEC foe you'll find on there is Southern Miss in 2014 and '15.
Stricklin: "We've had 16 straight sellouts and we have a waiting list for tickets, so whatever we're doing right now seems to be working from a fan perspective. And we've been to two straight bowl games, so it's working from trying to produce a consistent winner perspective."
Q: Not MSU-related, but do you know how they decide the brackets in the College World Series? I noticed that all three SEC teams that made it were in the same four-team bracket. Is there a method to that or did the NCAA just not want another all-SEC championship game?
A: The CWS bracket is determined by the regional bracket. When they set the 64-team field a few weeks ago, Arkansas, Florida and South Carolina were all on the same side of the bracket, thus they're on the same side in Omaha. Kentucky and Vanderbilt were also on that side of the bracket. On the other side were LSU, MSU, and Ole Miss, and how many of you actually thought LSU would not win a super regional at home against Stony Brook?
I don't normally buy into conspiracy theories, so I don't believe there was an concerted effort to try and stem the SEC's dominance.