By Austin Bishop
Winston County Journal
CLINTON — In a move that was expected, the Mississippi High School Activities Association announced on Monday morning that its State Championship Football Games were moving out of Jackson and Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium.
“We are excited about this announcement and feel like it is in the best interest of our student athletes,” said Don Hinton, executive director of the Mississippi High School Activities Association, during a press conference at MHSAA headquarters in Clinton. “This is something we have been looking at for a while and are glad we are finally getting it done,.”
The site of the next four MHSAA/Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi Gridiron Classic State Football Championships have been set, with the 2014 and 2016 contests being held at Davis Wade Stadium on the campus of Mississippi State University in Starkville and the 2015 and 2017 games being played at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on the campus of Ole Miss in Oxford.
Hinton said all universities with stadiums large enough to handle the event were asked to submit bids for the contest after they were given a list of criteria. Jackson State, who has been the host of the games, did not submit a proposal.
While the University of Southern Mississippi is not in the current four-year rotation for the State Championship Football Games, it did land a jewell when M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg was chosen to host the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Football Classic in 2015 and 2017.
“Ole Miss, Mississippi State and USM will host two games over the next four years,” said Johnny Mims, executive director of the Mississippi Association of Coaches. Both Hinton and Mims noted that Jackson State still remain in the equation by hosting the boys portion of the quarterfinal round of the newly expanded MHSAA State Basketball Tournament this season, as well as the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Basketball Games every other year.
“There was a little something for everybody,” Hinton said, who also noted that 85 percent of all of the MHSAA’s state championships are still held in the Jackson area.
The Egg Bowl, the annual football showdown between SEC arch-rivals Ole Miss and Mississippi State that is traditionally played the last week in November, was kept in mind when the schedule was set. When Ole Miss hosts the Egg Bowl, the state championships will be played in Starkville and when MSU hosts the Egg Bowl the title games will be played in Oxford.
The year’s state championships in all six classifications are set for Dec. 5-6.