24 days till kickoff | Ole Miss Sports

Winning doesn’t just happen, it requires a lot of planning.

When coaches aren’t with players at practice, they’re often in meetings.

Back in the day when access was different I would roam the halls of the football building at Mississippi State. Many of the assistants preferred to do interviews in their offices around lunch time. That was an enjoyable time. You could gain insight and analysis about a lot more than that week’s opponent.

Sparky Woods was offensive coordinator at the time. One Tuesday morning he told me to come on up to his office at 11.

I’m usually on time and have the habit, annoying to some I’m sure, of being early. That wasn’t the case this time. I was upstairs outside Sparky’s door at 11. I knocked. There was no answer for a while, which was odd, because Sparky is a punctual guy too. Seconds later there was shuffling and movement inside, and I heard, “Come in.”

So I open the door to find Jackie Sherrill, Sparky and the offensive assistants all seated around a conference table.

All eyes looked at me. I was a little uncomfortable initially, because I try to stay out of the way of these guys when they’re working. There were charts and stats spread around, and Jackie was at the head of the table. It was quiet, like maybe they were planning to take over a small country, and I wasn’t supposed to know about it. There were a few smiles, and no one rushed to cover up the plays or other information that I might have seen from a distance.

Sparky broke the silence and in a nice sort of way got across the message that the meeting that everyone had been called together a few minutes before and asked that I come back at 11:30.

It remains the only staff meeting I’ve walked in on.

Joe Lee Dunn once told me to come up to his office for an interview, but he didn’t tell me to bring a camping lantern. The lights were out, and the video was rolling. No other coaches were around, just Joe Lee, and since it was in the afternoon, I’m sure it was getting close to the end of his work day. He was famous for arriving early and leaving early. We talked through the video.