The town of Starkville was a proud town. Oh, maybe not proud in a traditional sense. Maybe not proud at all. But it was a town, and the locals were damn proud of that.
Starkville was founded in 1837 when the State Duma of Mississippi — more commonly known as the Legislature — saw fit to create a new center of higher education, learning, and milk removal from cows. It would be the greatest milk removal from cows college in all the land, or at least this side of Auburn. It’s name: Mississippi State.
Oh, people flocked to this new cosmopolitan mecca, hoping to get a glimpse of high society and class. And they would not be disappointed — or they would be disappointed. But yet they came — by the hundreds. Some by sea, some by land. Some by monorail, some by Bigfoot Power Wheel. And yet they came, believing in a new life and a new future.
What they found could only be described as heaven on a plain…or a big, giant featureless field in the middle of the hot-ass Deep South. Either way, it was bliss.
As the town began to grow and as residents decided to diversify their last names for outward appearances, the locals grew needy of a leader. A strong leader that could bring their new burg and school into the mid 1840s with class. The man they chose would become the patriarch of Starkville. His name was Jackie Sherrill.
Mr. Sherrill was a dynamic character, prone to both the impassioned speech and cutting the testicles from a live bull. Each method stood on their own merits. His rousing speeches invigorated the town while the testicle removal simply freaked everyone the fuck out. But even so, they followed him, for they were forever worried that their own testicles might come under Mr. Sherrill’s knife. And so he was feared and respected. And powerful. And possibly gay, what with the testicle obsession, but whatever, don’t ask don’t tell.
But this was simply not enough for the residents of Starkville. They needed more. They needed a game to lift their spirits and inspire more pride in a town devoid of anything remotely advanced. So in 1865, Sherrill had the answer. He invented a game called “Testicle Ball.” Over the years, the rules of this relic game have been lost, though popular legend recounts that it was the most unsuccessful game ever invented. Most of the town just continued to whisper about the testicle thing, but c’mon, it’s his life, let him live it. OK?
Unphased, however, Sherrill changed tack and focused his efforts on another game — the game of football.
A full 4 years before Rutgers and Princeton supposedly played the first football game, now-Coach Sherrill had the Mississippi State Bulldogs running wind-sprints, the dive option, and backwards naked through a cornfield. “It will teach toughness,” he would yell. Oh, it was a glorious sight. Sherrill recruited with a vengeance, bringing the best white-only talent from all the surrounding counties. His program was so great he did not receive any resistance, partly because no other football programs existed but mostly because of his greatness.
And there was King Sherrill, unbeaten during the early years at Mississippi State, partly because there were no teams to play but mostly because of his greatness. Starkville was atop the mountain and the town had only Sherrill to thank. And so it was that Czar Sherril would lead the Bulldogs proudly for the next 150+ years. But tougher times lay ahead, and Fuhrer Sherrill’s time in Starkville became numbered.
Yet, even in the face of adversity, a new savior waited in the wings, a man known only by the name of Croom.
…TO BE CONTINUED…
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