In this week’s edition of “Conversations with Clayton,” I catch up with Hank Allen, the co-host of the fantastic Mississippi State Bulldogs podcast The Sky Dawgs. Hank is also the host of Sports and Spirits, a podcast which covers both athletics and adult refreshments. Additionally, Hank serves as the chief meteorologist at New Orleans’ ABC affiliate, WGNO.
In our wide-ranging discussion, Hank and I talk obstructed view seats at Fenway Park, Saturdays in Starkville and the Bulldogs’ chances in 2018.
Clayton Trutor (CT): What percentage chance is there that Mississippi State wins the SEC this year?
Hank Allen (HA): I would say the chances are 20 percent. Higher than I’d give us a lot of years probably, but still a lot has to go right with this schedule.
CT: What were your impressions of the Joe Moorhead hire? What do you think so far?
HA: I didn’t know a whole lot about him initially except for being the Penn State OC. Obviously you had to respect what they have done on offense over the past few seasons.
So far though I love the guy. He seems like a perfect fit. I love that the players love him and that he has a drive to win championships. Now I do get a little concerned that everybody just assumes a seamless transition and instant success which is rare with a new staff. But most new staffs don’t have the talent in place to win right away either. I love how he has filled out his staff with other former head coaches that are also great recruiters, and it’s pretty rare to see MSU in the top 10 for recruiting rankings but that’s where most services have us. At the end of the day I’ll still have to see how it plays out on the field, but so far a great hire.
CT: Describe a fall Saturday in Starkville.
HA: Saturdays in Starkville are great. So much more fun than when I was in school. Seems silly to think about the school completely redoing roads and large parts of campus just for tailgating and game day experience, but [it is] the best move they ever made. The Junction is packed wall to wall with tents and people cooking and partying before and after games. Nothing like football in the south.
The town itself has grown so much. So many more places to eat and drink now before and after games. So many more people just walking around and in town even if they don’t have tickets. Of course winning helps all that, but the changes were made first. And it’s really a great time. Tons of kids activities as well. And the whole town thrives on those weekends. Plus the stadium is loud and a great environment.
CT: Rank your animosity toward MSU’s rivals in the SEC West.
HA: Of course Ole Miss is the hated school by most. In college I hated Alabama way more. Still don’t like them. But since I live in southeast Louisiana and have to listen to LSU people all the time I have tremendous hatred for them. After that it would be Alabama and Ole Miss. Auburn I don’t hate a lot because I have always had nice experiences on campus with friendly people there as an away fan. Arkansas and TAMU I really don’t have a huge opinion on never having been to a game there. Just another team I don’t want to lose to.
CT: Who is the toughest guy to ever play football for the Bulldogs?
HA: That’s tough. I probably don’t have the historical perspective as some people. During my time though I’d probably say RB Dicenzo Miller, just what he did with his size, and maybe Anthony Dixon. He’d get the ball 25-30 times on a team with nothing and would be running people over in the fourth quarter. It’s hard to say though. Fitz, the current QB, gets pounded all the time and keeps on going. Plus some really bruising defenders over the years. Pig Prather comes to mind.
CT: Describe your worst ever seat at a sporting event.
HA: Probably a game at Fenway with my buddies. Hard to say any seat is bad, but it was obstructed by one of the poles. It was lower level. The real issue was the heat. Of course the day we go to Boston it was three days of mid 90s out of two weeks of 70s. No air flow. Just sweating profusely.
Either that or Mississippi State/Ole Miss basketball I believe it was ‘01 or ‘02. By the time I got there the place was packed. I sat on the very top step in one of the aisles. All the way at the top of the building. But at least I was in. Actually had to have a friend walk by and open one of the doors to sneak in because they weren’t letting anybody else in the ticket door. Needless to say much looser security then.
CT: Describe your greatest sports video game victory.
HA: Tough. Played a lot. Lost a lot. (Laughs) Probably against my buddy Ryan in high school playing Gamebreaker 98 I believe. That was before the EA line really took over. He would run this play called Arrow; it was unstoppable. Would either hit the tight end on a short slant, or the middle of a trips formation WR on a fly. Infuriating. He was just really good at it overall. One day we were over there and I finally beat him. May have been the first one in our group of friends. I remember I played with WVU. Loved Amos Zereoue on that game. He was nasty. Marc Bulger was a solid QB. I wasn’t that good at running the option anyway so he could get the job done throwing. Finally able to beat him.
CT: When you hear the word “Cincinnati,” you think ___________
HA: I’ve been there. So post visit Skyline chili and super friendly people. I love the midwest. Otherwise historically it would be Reds baseball. Big Red Machine. Nasty Boys bullpen. And Barry Larkin. Baseball, midwest, blue collar. America.
Follow Hank Allen on Twitter immediately: @HankAllenWX
For more of the same, follow me on Twitter: @ClaytonTrutor