One of the biggest on-going national sports stories has been and continues to be the re-shaping of the college football landscape.
And to think the story had a such a strong Tupelo connection. Who knew?
Part of my assignment while covering Ole Miss in the College Station Regional was to bring back a "scene-setter” for Texas A&M's entrance into the SEC. The official date is July 1, and that's quite visible in store-front windows in College Station. More on that in the Journal next week.
When I set out on that assignment, I asked an A&M media relations staffer to hook me up with an administration voice to interview.
Turns out it was former Mississippi State media relations assistant Jason Cook. To call him “Tupelo's own” might be a stretch, but Cook has a history here. He was born in Tupelo, lived in Tupelo the first two years of his life before his family moved out of town and eventually to Southeast Texas.
Cook returned to Mississippi as an MSU student.
“When I was in school I would drive to Tupelo quite a bit to wash clothes and for a good home-cooked meal,” he said.
He is the grandson of Ethel Cook, who still lives here, and the late J.A. Cook. Jason Cook still visits once a year, he says.
When he wasn't planning trips to Tupelo, Cook, now the vice president for marketing and communication at A&M, was a key player in the school's decision to move from the Big 12 to the SEC. Some folks familiar with A&M say Cook “has the ear” of school president Bowen Loftin. Many were involved in the decision, Cook says.
“It really was a total team effort, a combination of unique timing, having our leadership on the same page. I was able to bring unique perspectives about the SEC to our president and board of regents. I've maintained extensive contacts throughout the SEC, and that's been a very valuable part of our transition process,” Cook said.
Cook isn't the only SEC “insider” in College Station. He isn't even the only SEC insider in his home. His wife, Leann Cook, is a Texas A&M graduate and SEC employee for nine years having served as assistant commissioner for championships.