DESTIN, Fla. -- Mississippi State's proposal to extend the one-year rule passed by the Southeastern Conference allowing their fans to ring cowbells at home games is now in the hands of the SEC presidents.
After early Wednesday when league athletic directors originally shot down by a 10-2 vote the one-year extension of the rule passed here last year, the athletic directors took a second vote and the recommendation passed. The presidents vote on it Friday on the final day of the league's business meetings here at the Sandestin Beach Hilton.
What may have swayed the presidents is that the football coaches approved the extension and moved it on to the athletic directors. Apparently, the coaches were convinced by Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen that the cowbell is more than just a noisemaker for State fans.
"When I arrived at Mississippi State a couple of years ago, the cowbell was sort of an amusing thing to me," Mullen said. "That all changed when I learned the symbolism and tradition of it.
"This past season when I buried one of my players (defensive end Nick Bell, who died of cancer), his mom stood over his coffin and rang her cowbell as they closed the coffin. It gave me a totally new perspective of what the cowbell means to Mississippi State University.
"Does it give us an advantage? We're not close to the loudest stadium in the league."
The rule, as passed a year ago by the SEC, said State fans could not ring their cowbells during a live play. They were allowed to ring it until the offensive team for either team approached the line of scrimmage to start a play.
"Our fans adapted to the rule, and we got better as the year went along last year," State athletic director Scott Stricklin said. "I think there's a lot of misconceptions about the cowbells. I think the coaches understand it doesn't impact the game. You hardly hear them on the field. The cowbells add to atmosphere, and atmosphere makes the SEC special."
Pay the players?
South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier proposed to the league athletic directors that football players should be paid $300 per game.
He drew up a petition and signed it along with six of the league's coaches -- LSU's Les Miles, Ole Miss' Houston Nutt, Mississippi State's Mullen, Alabama's Nick Saban, Florida's Will Muschamp and Tennessee's Derek Dooley.
"I told the coaches who didn't sign it that the first thing I would do is show the media this so they would know who didn't sign it," said a raspy Spurrier, who showed the petition to a group of media surrounding him.
"I thought it was something we needed to get out there. We all make so much money as coaches, it's like about $300 each for 70 players, or about $21,000 a game if you play 14 games. That's almost $300,000 for the season ($294,000)."
"I just wish there was a way to give our players a piece of the pie, it's so huge right now. Fifteen years ago, there wasn't any kind of money and our players got full scholarships. Now, they are still getting full scholarships and the money is in the millions. Football brings in all the money. They are the performers."
When asked the reaction of the athletic directors to his petition, "Like always, they said they'd talk about it later."
SEC commissioner Mike Slive said his reaction to Spurrier's proposal was it was "a generous gesture."
Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari said he hasn't talked to his former University of Memphis star Derrick Rose following the ouster of Rose's Bulls in the NBA Eastern Conference finals by the Miami Heat.
"I've texted him, but I've stayed away, because he doesn't want to hear me pump him up," Calipari said of Rose, who was named the NBA's Most Valuable Player in just his second year in the league. "Knowing him, I bet you he was even struggling watching last night's game (Tuesday's opening game of the NBA Finals between the Heat and the Mavs). He probably took off, and he was saying, 'I've got to shoot better. Why did I do that?'
"He'll be fine. All Chicago needs is another shooter, a wing. Their coach did a great job and made them a great defensive team. They really guarded Miami. They just couldn't score."
-- Ron Higgins: 901-529-2525