STARKVILLE — And so another week of quarantine has come and gone.
In Starkville, city leaders re-upped ordinances on masks, while COVID-19 cases continue to rise nationwide.
While the time we’re living in can be bleak day-to-day, this week’s mailbag is filled with scenarios predicated on sports actually happening this fall.
With that, let’s jump in:
Any indication Mississippi State will make alcohol sales in the near-future?
While the bottle of Woodford Reserve in my liquor cabinet has taken a steady hit during quarantine, there isn’t any indication that or even beer will be making its way to Davis Wade Stadium any time soon.
The debate about alcohol sales was again drummed up this week after USA Today released its annual database of athletic department spending over the 2018-19 school year. Mississippi State, which made nearly $13.5 million despite spending over $112 million last year, ranked third-to-last of the 13 Southeastern Conference schools listed (Vanderbilt was not included because it’s a private institution and isn’t subject to the open-records laws that bring these numbers to light).
I delved into alcohol sales a bit during the fall when I broke down MSU and Ole Miss’ respective athletic department budgets for the 2017-18 school year ahead of the Egg Bowl and the Bulldogs’ neighbors to the northwest have assuredly benefited from wetting their pallets at games.
Following its Oct. 19 loss to Texas A&M, Ole Miss announced its hospitality vendor Centerplate had sold 15,400 beers for a total revenue of $128,000 at that game alone.
MSU has been reticent to comment on alcohol sales beyond that others in the SEC are partaking, and the understanding is this will ultimately fall on university President Dr. Mark E. Keenum’s shoulders should the school want to sell booze.
That said, there are ample issues ahead of this on the docket at the moment and it’d be surprising if one were drinking anything beyond cheap whiskey from a flask stashed into an undergrad’s boot anytime soon.
When can we expect a decision from Robert Woodard on the NBA Draft?
While MSU men’s basketball coach Ben Howland has done a valiant, if not wildly impressive job filling his roster this offseason with a slew of transfers and late additions, the Bulldogs would assuredly welcome back sophomore Robert Woodard II from the NBA Draft
Woodard, a Columbus native and former top-65 recruit nationally, has kept relatively quiet on the NBA Draft to this point and with the deadline now being pushed back to Aug. 3 for underclassmen to withdraw their names from the process, it’s unlikely we hear anything before then.
That said, MSU has factored Woodard into its current scholarship situation and remain in the running for Alabama transfer Javian Davis. Davis — who released a top-six of MSU, Xavier, Georgetown, Western Kentucky, Tulane and Wake Forest — announced Sunday via Twitter that he’d reveal his decision on July 27.
MSU would benefit hugely from Woodard’s return given the departures of Reggie Perry and Tyson Carter, but the Bulldogs have done enough to fill the roster that they’ll survive should he end up a first-round selection this fall.
Where will K.J. Costello be selected in the 2021 NFL Draft?
To say there’s a lot of ifs, ands and buts regarding K.J. Costello’s draft stock would be an understatement. But hey, it’s the middle of July, so what the hell?
Costello is assuredly one of the more experienced and battle-hardened quarterbacks in a class that should be relatively deep. Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance and Justin Fields are the likely first three quarterbacks off the board, but from there it gets interesting.
Florida’s Kyle Trask has the tools to succeed at the next level, but his inexperience at the college level coupled with the years he spent behind former Houston signal-caller and current Miami Hurricane D’Eriq King as a high schooler, makes him green, at best.
Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond and Texas’ Sam Ehlinger are both more than likely to intrigue a handful of teams, but profile more as great college quarterbacks and it remains to be seen what their true NFL prospects are.
Georgia quarterback Jamie Newman is one name that could jump up draft boards with a big season for the Bulldogs, but with J.T. Daniels now immediately eligible in Athens, it’s unclear whether Newman will even start a game in the red and black, let alone be an NFL quarterback.
And now we get to Costello. In four years at Stanford, the former Santa Margarita High School signal-caller totaled 6,151 yards and 49 touchdowns to just 18 interceptions in 28 games played for the Cardinal. Costello’s best season came as a junior when he guided Stanford to a 9-4 record while throwing for 3,540 yards and 29 touchdowns.
The Athletic’s Dane Brugler marked Costello as the No. 6 senior quarterback in the class, though he could move up that chart.
If recent history tells us anything (i.e. Garnder Minshew and Anthony Gordon), Costello will put up video game numbers in coach Mike Leach’s air raid offense. That coupled with his previously elite pedigree as a top-100 recruit in the class of 2016 and the extreme arm talent he possesses, Costello could hear his name in the second or third round, if not sooner.
Having lived in a fraternity house for four years of college, my cooking skills upon graduation in the fall of 2018 were not exactly up to snuff.
I’ve taken this time during quarantine to right that wrong and get to working toward someone who can actually serve a legitimate meal. Here are a couple of my favorite dishes I’ve concocted (with some help from my girlfriend, to say the least):
1. My mom’s chicken parmesan with angel hair pasta
2. Stir fry beef over Japanese pan noodles
3. Chicken piccata, side of asparagus and squash
4. Ricotta stuffed shells
5. Mozzarella and asparagus stuffed chicken breasts
Ben Portnoy reports on Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @bportnoy15.