You never know what you’re going to find out when you ask a question.
On the ESPNU College Football Podcast on Monday, I asked Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen if he owned a cowbell, those noisemakers that are as much a part of the tradition of Bulldog football as sitting in traffic on U.S. 82.
The answer nearly choked me up.
“I’ve gotten one as a gift. It sits in my office in a case,” Mullen said. “I don’t need it during the game.”
Mullen then began to describe the tradition of cowbells being rung at Mississippi State games.
“I understand the tradition of the thing. Traditions are what make college football different from every other sport out there. My story that sunk home, with what the cowbell means -- we had a young man on our team last year, Nick Bell, passed away after a short six-week fight with cancer. Very, very, very difficult situation to go through as a team. Even more so with his family.
“We were at the funeral, had the team at the funeral. Nick’s mom Linda, as they are getting ready to close the casket on her 20-year-old son, stood up and rang her cowbell.
“That really is where it sunk home to me. It’s not a silly gameday thing. It is a deep-rooted tradition in the hearts of our people. Those traditions are what make our sport so special. I’m just happy that the SEC understands that, what it does mean to our people.”
Linda Bell has remained connected to the Misssissippi State football program. Mullen hosted a women’s football camp this month. Linda Bell served as the keynote speaker.
“She’ll come talk to the team in our preseason camp,” Mullen said. “She’s very close with our program, with myself, my wife and our family.”