Bower, USM make good combination

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 22, 1999

Jeff Bower is a good fit for the University of Southern Mississippi. And not just from a football standpoint, although the veteran head coach’s main claim to fame is the way he has coached the Golden Eagles all these years.

In the first place, coach Bower has shown from the beginning that he’ll face up to a challenge, and you know that recruiting against Ole Miss and Mississippi State in our small state is indeed a challenge. He’s handled it well; last bowl season all three teams went bowling. And now this year as well.

Funny thing, even Rebel and Bulldog supporters admire the USM skipper. They see his football marks each year, and they are about as good, literally as good, and better than most on occasion. Respect is what Mississippi football fans have for Bower.

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One thing for certain, it can be said that &uot;little&uot; USM is anything but &uot;little&uot; when it comes to drawing a line in the sand against an opponent. That Bower influence, that’s what it is.

Before someone reminds me, back to the &uot;little&uot; USM remark, I indeed know that USM, Ole Miss and MSU are comparable in size of enrollment and that now with the Golden Eagles in a good, solid conference (Conference USA), that’s a good recruiting tool. I’m talkin’ athletically and academically.

So Jeff Bower, who can literally talk the horns off a billy goat in pre-season sessions with sportswriters, coaches one of Mississippi’s three Top 25 teams. Honestly, the USM&160;skipper steps up and toes the line on media day.

Yes, Jeff Bower has been contacted by other schools with more money to spend on a head football coach. But it’s just money, and liking a situation means more than money. Say what you will, but liking his situation at USM means everything as regards Jeff Bower’s coaching decision. He’s comfortable in Hattiesburg.

And come Liberty Bowl night in Memphis a week from tomorrow night, he and his Conference USA champions will be comfortable grappling Colorado State. That’s December 31 – a Friday night – and if I attend a media day some place, I look forward to hearing from a coach who will step up and tell it like it is and back it up.

n Really fine high school athletes continue to abound in the Miss-Lou area. Surely you don’t expect me to try naming all of them for ’99. But they have been numerous, particularly in football.

Fact of the matter Adams Christian’s Hayden Wadsworth and Lee Watts have been named first team Private School Association players – not a mean feat. When you stop and think about how many private school teams are in the Association, and how loaded so many of them are, Hayden and Lee have to feel fortunate, especiall since ACCS was only 3-7 this past season.

But outstanding is outstanding. Now and then a team wins just a game or two, but boasts several players who run well, tackle well, catch well, etc. and are outstanding in the sportsmanship area. Paint Watts and Wadsworth both with that brush. They attended to their chores well.

But Centreville, which this very football season won for veteran Tiger coach Bill Hurst his 6th MPSA title, would not allow a pretty good ACCS team to get much going, &uot;fighting&uot; Rebels or not.

My compliments to Hayden Wadsworth and Lee Watts on their deserved All-State honors.

n Chrismastime is the most wonderful time of the year. To be sure, Jesus is thought of throughout December in a very special way: He is the Christchild, the Savior of the world in which we live and worship. MERRY CHRISTMAS, everybody!