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NCAA Football History - College Football Team History -
Mississippi Football History
St. Bulldogs Football History
CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS (1)
1941 Southeastern Conference Champions
SEC WEST DIVISION CHAMPIONS (1)
1896-1921: Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Assoc.
1922-1932: Southern Conference
1933-Current: Southeastern Conference
No Team: 1897-1900, 1943
The Bulldog (MSU Mascot)
Mississippi State University athletic teams are called
Bulldogs, a name earned and maintained over the decades
by the tough, tenacious play of student-athletes wearing
the Maroon and White. The official school mascot is an American
Kennel Club registered English Bulldog, given the inherited
title of 'Bully'.
As with most universities, State teams answered to different
nicknames through the years. The first squads representing
Mississippi A&M College were proud to be called Aggies,
and when the school officially became Mississippi State
College in 1932 the nickname Maroons, for State's uniform
color, gained prominence. Bulldogs became the official title
for State teams in 1961, not long after State College was
granted university status. Yet references to school teams
and athletes as Bulldogs actually go back to early in the
century, and this nickname was used almost interchangably
with both Aggies and Maroons, since at least 1905.
On November 30 of that year the A&M football team shut
out their arch-rivals from the University of Mississippi
11-0 in Jackson, Miss. The campus newspaper, The Reflector,
reported: "After the game, filled with that emotion
that accompanies every great victory, there was nothing
left for the cadets to do but to complete the great victory
by showing sympathy for the dead athletic spirit of the
University, by having a military funeral parade.
"A coffin was secured, decorated with University colors
and a bulldog pup placed on top. It was then placed on the
shoulders of a dozen cadets, and the procession started
down Capitol Street, preceded by the brass band playing
a very pathetic funeral march."
Other newspaper reports of the victory commented on the
'bulldog' style of play by the A&M eleven, and the Bulldog
was soon publicly accepted as a school athletic symbol.
Accounts of a 1926 pep rally in Meridian, Miss., had another
bulldog parading with students.
Use as an official game mascot began in 1935 when coach
Major Ralph Sasse, on 'orders' from his team, went to Memphis,
Tenn., to select a bulldog. Ptolemy, a gift of the Edgar
Webster family, was chosen and the Bulldogs promptly defeated
A litter-mate of Ptolemy became the first mascot called
'Bully' shortly after Sasse's team beat mighty Army 13-7
at West Point that same year, perhaps the greatest victory
in MSU football history. But Bully I earned other fame the
hard way, in 1939 when a campus bus cut short his career.
Days of campus mourning followed, as Bully lay in state
in a glass coffin. A half-mile funeral procession accompanied
by the the Famous Maroon Band and three ROTC battalions
went to Scott Field where Bully was buried under the bench
at the 50-yard line. Even LIFE Magazine covered to the event.
Other Bullys have since been buried by campus dorms, fraternity
houses, and also at the football stadium.
For years Bully was a target for kidnappers, the last incident
occuring prior to the 1974 State-Ole Miss game. The Bulldog
team won anyway, 31-13. While early Bullys once roamed campus
freely or lived in fraternities, today the official university
mascot is housed at the School of Veterinary Medicine when
not on duty at State home football games. For all their
fierce appearance and reputation, today's mascot bulldogs
are good-natured, friendly animals and favorites with children.
A student wearing a Bulldog suit, also answering to Bully,
is part of the MSU cheerleading team and assists in stiring
up State spirit at games and pep rallies.
The most unique and certainly the most resounding symbol
of Mississippi State University tradition is the cowbell.
Despite decades of attempts by opponents and authorities
to banish it from scenes of competition, diehard State fans
still celebrate Bulldog victories loudly and proudly with
the distinctive sound of ringing cowbells.
The precise origin of the cowbell as a fixture of Mississippi
State sports tradition remains unclear to this day. The
best records have cowbells gradually introduced to the MSU
sports scene in the late 1930s and early 1940s, coinciding
with the 'golden age' of Mississippi State football success
prior to World War II.
The most popular legend is that during a home football
game between State and arch-rival Mississippi, a jersey
cow wandered onto the playing field. Mississippi State soundly
whipped the Rebels that Saturday, and State College students
immediately adopted the cow as a good luck charm. Students
are said to have continued bringing a cow to football games
for a while, until the practice was eventually discontinued
in favor of bringing just the cow's bell.
Whatever the origin, it is certain that by the 1950s cowbells
were common at Mississippi State games, and by the 1960s
were established as the special symbol of Mississippi State.
Ironically, the cowbell's popularity grew most rapidly during
the long years when State football teams were rarely successful.
Flaunting this anachronism from the 'aggie' days was a proud
response by students and alumni to outsider scorn of the
university's 'cow college' history.
In the 1960s two MSU professors, Earl W. Terrell and Ralph
L. Reeves obliged some students by welding handles on the
bells to they could be rung with much more convenience and
authority. By 1963 the demand for these long-handled cowbells
could not be filled by home workshops alone, so at the suggestion
of Reeves the Student Association bought bells in bulk and
the Industrial Education Club agreed to weld on handles.
In 1964 the MSU Bookstore began marketing these cowbells
with a portion of the profits returning to these student
Today many styles of cowbells are available on campus and
around Starkville, with the top-of-the-line a heavy chrome-plated
model with a full Bulldog figurine handle. But experts insist
the best and loudest results are produced by a classic long-handled,
bicycle-grip bell made of thinner and tightly-welded shells.
Cowbells decorate offices and homes of Mississippi State
alumni, and are passed down through generations of Bulldog
fans. But they are not heard at Southeastern Conference
gamesnot legally, at leastsince the 1974 adoption of a conference
rule against 'artificial noisemakers' at football and basketball
games. On a 9-1 vote SEC schools ruled cowbells a disruption
and banned them.
This has done little harm to the cowbell's popularity,
however, or to prevent cowbells from being heard outside
stadiums in which the Bulldogs are playing. They can still
be heard at non-conference football contests, as well as
other sporting events on campus. And bold Bulldog fans still
risk confiscation for the privilege of keeping a unique
Mississippi State tradition alive and ringing at SEC affairs.
Maroon and White (Colors)
Maroon and White are the distinctive colors of Mississippi
State University athletic teams, dating back over a century
to the very first football game ever played by the school's
On November 15, 1895, the first Mississippi A&M football
team was preparing for a road trip to Jackson, Tenn., to
play Southern Baptist University (now called Union University)
the following day. Since every college was supposed to have
its own uniform colors, the A&M student body requested
that the school's team select a suitable combination.
Considering making this choice an honor, the innaugural
State team gave the privilege to team captain W.M. Matthews.
Accounts report that without hesitation Matthews chose Maroon
In the 100 years since, every Mississippi State athlete
has donned the Maroon and White in some sort of combination.
Often a shade of gray has been added to the scheme, such
as for the numerals. Briefly in the 1980s the men's and
women's basketball teams wore all-gray uniforms with maroon
and white trim, while football has at times sported silver
game pants, and baseball will often wear all-gray road outfits.
Only once has a MSU team appeared in any other color combination.
In 1938 football coach Spike Nelson secretly had cardinal
and gold uniforms made for State, a selection that did not
sit well with the team or the college at the first game.
Neither the uniforms nor Nelson were back for the next season.
Hail State (Fight Song)
Hail dear 'ole State!
Fight for that victory today.
Hit that line and tote that ball,
Cross the goal before you fall!
And then we'll yell, yell, yell, yell!
For dear 'ole State we'll yell like H-E-L-L!
Fight for Mis-sis-sip-pi State,
Win that game today!
Maroon and White
In the heart of Mississippi
Made by none but God's own hands
Stately in her nat'ral splendor
Our Alma Mater proudly stands.
State College of Mississippi,
Fondest mem'ries cling to thee.
Life shall hoard thy spirit ever,
Loyal sons we'll always be.
Maroon and White! Maroon and White!
Of thee with joy we sing.
Thy colors bright, our souls delight,
With praise our voices ring.
Tho' our life some pow'r may vanquish,
Loyalty can't be o'er run;
Honors true on thee we lavish
Until the setting of the sun;
Live Maroon and White for ever,
Ne'er can evil mar thy fame,
Nothing us from thee can sever,
Alma Mater we acclaim.
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