During the nearly year-long Renardo Sidney saga, I was careful not to express too strong an opinion on the case or any of the parties involved. But now, with the book closed on Sidney's amateurism evaluation, I let loose a little bit in this morning's opinion offering. I took both the NCAA and Don Jackson, the Sidney family's attorney, to task for their often curious actions during this ordeal, and I've concluded that I can't really decide who should wear the white hat and who should get the black hat.
Let me reiterate something I wrote: I'm not saying one party was more guilty than another of doing anything unsavory, because it's kind of hard to know who really comes off looking worse. It should be noted that Mississippi State, when appealing the punishment handed down to Sidney, chose not to challenge the ruling that he make repayment for "improper benefits received" – I.e., excessive amounts of athletic gear. Either MSU agreed with the finding or felt it could not adequately dispute it.
In the end, we've been reminded that college athletics isn't all fun and games. But hopefully, for Sidney at least, it will become just that next season.
• OFF AND RUNNING: The MSU track and field team has been good for a while, but this year, watch out. The Bulldogs were ranked No. 23 in the nation at one point last season, had six All-Americans, and finished 17th at the NCAAs. They enter the 2010 campaign at No. 12 in the USTFCCCA rankings.
Some names to watch: D'Angelo Cherry (No. 1 in 100-meter dash), Tavaris Tate (No. 3 in 400m), Dwight Mullings (No. 6 in 400m), Tupelo's Wendy Copeland (No. 10 in long jump), and LaQuinta Aaron (No. 15 in heptathlon, No. 20 in 100-meter hurdles).
Keep an especially close eye on Tate, the super freshman from Starkville. He was a high school All-American and the nation's best in the 400 meters. Tate and his teammates are competing in the Texas Relays this week and are off to a nice start.
• CHAT WITH COACH DIAZ: If you've got any questions about the MSU football team's defense, today would be a good time to ask. New defensive coordinator Manny Diaz will be doing a live chat at 1 p.m., answering fans' questions. So ask some tough ones!
Here is the link. Next week, offensive coordinator Les Koenning will entertain your queries, and head coach Dan Mullen will do so the Thursday prior to the Maroon-White spring game.