On the Links: Opinion Offering; Jones Signing Friday

I had a couple of stories in today’s Journal, so let’s hit the links before I run off to this mandatory training here at the office (no idea what they’re training me to do; hopefully it involves nunchucks).

My opinion offering examined how the preseason football magazines – namely Phil Steele and Athlon – are giving Mississippi State some props. But, as with many observers, there’s a hesitation to project the Bulldogs winning as many as the nine games they won last year, just because of the schedule.

One point on that: Last year’s MSU schedule was the fourth-toughest in the nation, according to Steele. He ranks this year’s slate No. 15 in the country. That’s probably due to an especially soft non-SEC schedule, but one could argue that going 9-4 last season was a shade more difficult than it will be this year.

I’m not making any predictions – right now. I’m sure I’ll make a foolhardy attempt at that come August. But I welcome y’all’s predictions.

• I also have the story on right-handed pitcher Devin Jones foregoing his senior season to sign with the Orioles. Jones, who flew to Baltimore yesterday, told me last night that he won’t actually sign the paperwork until Friday, after his physicals have been completed.

So MSU coach John Cohen is a man down on a pitching staff that he’s worked hard to build up since taking over in 2008. Can the Bulldogs weather the loss of Jones?

“When you lose somebody as talented as Devin, there’s an impact there,” Cohen said. “You try and plan for that through the recruiting process, because you know he’s got a great arm, and you know there’s going to be professional interest. We’d love to have him on our staff next year but understand when you’re a top-10 round pick, that kind of thing can happen.

“We hope he’s the first of many top-10 round picks that we’re going to have in the near and distant future.”