Memphis record producer Gregory Lofton becoming a fixture among Grizz, Tiger Nation

You came from Vancouver, where you struggled to survived. Walked a road of adversity, yet you did it all in stride. hen you came to Memphis, where you struggled to rebuild. Made personnel changes, it became a struggle still. But we’re getting it together, and we’re turning it around. got our act together to beat our enemies down. No more losing our battles, we’re taking a stand. We’re getting it together to get that title in our hands. With courage in our hearts we will reach the top. Now we’re on the move, and we can’t be stopped. — Memphian Gregory Lofton, on his recently released Grizzlies fight song

SILKY SMOOTH PRODUCER --- Memphian Gregory Lofton has garnered an array of attention as one of the Mid-South’s up-and-coming record producers. The founder and chief executive officer of Memphis-based Silky International Records, Lofton'S unique style of song-writing and producing have become a popular trend particularly among local female media pundits. (Photos submitted by Gregory Lofton)

SILKY SMOOTH PRODUCER — Memphian Gregory Lofton has garnered an array of attention as one of the Mid-South’s up-and-coming record producers. The founder and chief executive officer of Memphis-based Silky International Records, Lofton’S unique style of song-writing and producing have become a popular trend particularly among local female media pundits. (Photos submitted by Gregory Lofton)

As Gregory tells it, he doesn’t buy dreams.

“I sell them,” Lofton told MemphiSport during a recent interview.

What Lofton, 58, is alluding to primarily is the attention he has garnered as one of the Mid-South’s up-and-coming record producers. The founder and chief executive officer of Memphis-based Silky International Records, Lofton unique style of song-writing and producing have become a popular trend particularly among local female media pundits.

Not bad for a local rising music producer who has studied under the jurisdiction of legendary producer Kenny Gamble and his Grammy award-winning Rock and Roll Hall of Fame producing team, as well as alongside the O’Jays, Teddy Pendergrass, Patti Labelle, Lou Rawls, and Jerry Butler, among others.

“The thing that I remember and appreciate mostly about my quest is that it gave me an opportunity to promote my beautiful city of Memphis and its attractions, especially our beautiful female newscasters,” Lofton said.

To his credit, Mid-South-area media members aren’t the only ones who have embraced Lofton’s assortment of musical projects. Arguably Memphis’ most celebrated basketball teams have come to recognized the true talent Lofton has become since he and his brother launched Silky International Records four years ago.

TRUE BLUE FAN --- Lofton's Memphis Tigers fight song was played with my by local sports radio personality Jon "The Rainman” Rainey during his afternoon show, The Southern Sports Report, on WHBQ 56 AM. The hit was played during the U of M’s men’s basketball team’s 2008 national championship run during which the Tigers were dealt an overtime defeat by Kansas in San Antonio’s Alamodome.

TRUE BLUE FAN — Lofton’s Memphis Tigers fight song was played with my by local sports radio personality Jon “The Rainman” Rainey during his afternoon show, The Southern Sports Report, on WHBQ 56 AM. The hit was played during the U of M’s men’s basketball team’s 2008 national championship run during which the Tigers were dealt an overtime defeat by Kansas in San Antonio’s Alamodome.

CHECK OUT GREGORY LOFTON’S LATEST PROJECTS AT: www.silkyinternationalrecords.com.

How to explain the ongoing buzz and hoopla surrounding the his recently-released hit dedicated solely to the Grizzlies’ organization, a song even the Grindfather himself, Grizz shooting guard Tony Allen, could very well come to enjoy.

You came from Vancouver, where you struggled to survive. Walked a road of adversity, yet you did it all in stride. When you came to Memphis, where you struggled to rebuild. Made personnel changes, it became a struggle still. But we’re getting it together, and we’re turning it around, got our acts together to beat our enemies down. No more losing our battles, we’re taking a stand. We’re getting it together to get that title in our hands. With courage in our hearts we will reach the top. Now we’re on the move, and we can’t be stopped.

And then there’s the second verse:

We’re starting a new journey, and we’re on our way back. To our foes in the game, prepare yourselves for a grizzly attack. Our house is in order, and we’re bad to the bone. Go out and fight, fight. Bring our championship home, bring it home.

According to Lofton, he sent his compelling hit via certified mail to new Grizzlies majority owner Robert Pera, although he has yet to generate any feedback from front office reps. Luckily for the Vietnam Army veteran all was not lost.

That’s because the copyrighted unpublished version of his Memphis Tigers fight song was played with my by local sports radio personality Jon “The Rainman” Rainey during his afternoon show, The Southern Sports Report, on WHBQ 56 AM. The hit was played during the U of M’s men’s basketball team’s 2008 national championship run during which the Tigers were dealt an overtime defeat by Kansas in San Antonio’s Alamodome.

“They used my song to open the show and played snip-it all during the first hour of the show,” Lofton said.

Fortunately for Lofton, among those who had come to admire his work is U of M basketball coach Josh Pastner. “I thank him for his support,” Lofton said his relationship with Pastner.

Fortunately for Lofton, among those who had come to admire his work is U of M basketball coach Josh Pastner. “I thank him for his support,” Lofton said his relationship with Pastner.

Fortunately for Lofton, among those who had come to admire his work is U of M basketball coach Josh Pastner.

“I thank him for his support,” Lofton said his relationship with Pastner.

Without hesitation, Lofton, a former member of the Performing Arts Division of The Black Music Association, commenced to sharing his Tiger fight song that is starting to become popular among alumni and those with ties to the basketball program.

Weeeee got tiger fever, we’re burning up, we have fire in our eyes. We’re the Memphis Tigers, and we eat our foes alive. Weeee got tiger fever, we are the u of m. The University of Memphis. The mighty U of M. We are the mighty U of M.

Lofton relishes the fact Pastner passed his project on to university officials.

“Not only is he a great coach but he is worth his weight in gold as a coach and humanitarian,” Lofton said of Pastner. “Within one year of this release I plan to be in a position to put Memphis music back on the map and keep it there.”

No doubt, he appears well on his way, courtesy of Silky International Records.

DreColumnAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send an email to andre@memphisport.net. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

Sports journalist Andre Johnson pays tribute to his mother, who turns 55 August 28

EDITOR’S NOTE: On Friday, August 28, 2009, longtime sports journalist Andre Johnson paid tribute to his mother, Betty Pegues, during her 50th birthday celebration before family, friends, and a host of well-wishers. MemphiSport decided to republish Johnson’s emotional tribute he gave five years ago. Johnson’s mother turns 55 on Thursday. 

 

 

SUPER MOM --- MemphiSport NBA reporter Andre Johnson credits his mother, Betty Pegues, for helping him fulfill his dream of covering the NBA and NFL. Johnson, who resides in Dallas, covers the NBA Southwest Division and is a regular contributor for The Dallas Morning News.

SUPER MOM — MemphiSport senior writer Andre Johnson credits his mother, Betty Pegues, for helping him fulfill his dream of covering the NBA and NFL. Johnson, who resides in Dallas, covers the NBA Southwest Division and also is a regular contributor for The Dallas Morning News.

The year was 1988.

My sister, Tiffany, and I were preparing for the upcoming school year at Havenview Jr. High. Tiffany was entering junior high for the first time. I, on the other hand, was about to start eighth grade.

For years, Tiffany and I had become accustomed to mama sending us off to school on the first day in new clothes. School uniforms weren’t a requirement during those days, so basically going to school in new threads was a popular trend, especially in the ’80s.

But twenty-one years ago, something strange occurred days before school began. Mama informed me that while Tiffany would be going to school with a few new clothes, she was unable to purchase any for me, considering money was tight and that she had to reserve funds for more important things.

Granted, as an immature junior high kid who, like a number of my peers, thought mama was blessed with an unlimited flow of cash, I admittedly felt cheated and that mama had let me down. I sensed that mama had felt that way too. A couple of days before school began, she vowed to make it up to me, a promise that has impacted my life for the past two decades, a promise that I find myself reflecting upon every now and then, a promise that is worth mentioning and highlighting and embracing, especially in a setting such as the one that’s unfolding tonight.

Surely, many of you are here to pay tribute to Betty Pegues on her 50th birthday, in large part because this influential woman of God has touched your life, one way or the other. But for the past 34 years, Tiffany and I can attest to just how much of an impact she has had not just on us, but others who have come to know her.

She moved out of her parents’ home at a relatively young age, probably before she entered her twenties, and never returned even when the struggles and challenges of the real world seemed too overwhelming. Instead, mama, as Tiffany and I have known her, conducted herself as the strong woman she is.

From Frayser, to Binghampton, to Whitehaven, the results were always the same.

While often burning the candle at both ends by working two jobs so that we could live comfortably, mama made sure the house stayed cleaned and that we took part in our share of chores. Never do we recall going without a hot meal and, even though I endured what I believe was the worst beating of my life when I ripped and dismantled my bedroom nightstand on my fifteenth birthday because I didn’t get the gift I wanted, mama made it point to wash our clothes frequently. Then there were the memorable family moments, those intimate times that produced a unique relationship between a mother and her kids, times that, in a nutshell, explain why tonight’s grand occasion is so befitting.

DEFYING THE ODDS --- Despite giving birth to her children before the age of 17, Betty Pegues often worked two jobs to ensure Andre and Tiffany lived comfortably in their three-bedroom, Whitehaven-area apartment.

DEFYING THE ODDS — Despite giving birth to her children before the age of 17, Betty Pegues often worked two jobs to ensure Andre and Tiffany lived comfortably in their three-bedroom, Whitehaven-area apartment.

The silly and witty side of mama very much existed in our home. How can we forget the times mama would often play her 70s and 80s hit records and dance and laugh and poke fun at us in a joyous atmosphere she created in the first place? How can we forget the times she took us out to eat and to church, often reminding us just how special we are, even during an era in which single-parent homes had become all to familiar? How can we forget the times that, when we strolled in mama’s house with bad report cards, how she would repeatedly yell at, punish, and explain to us the importance of an education?

It was, after all, those life-changing moments and childhood lessons that made me realize why tonight’s celebration makes all of the sense in the world. You see, God gave me what I believe to be a big-hearted mother. A mother who had a wealth of patience in raising two hard-headed kids. A mother who would nurture and confront and uplift us when we were treated unfairly by the outside world.

A mother who was quick to chasten us with switches, belts, phone cords, and fisticuffs when necessary, not to mention one who was just as quick to praise, reward, and encourage us when we met or exceeded her expectations. So as we continue to reflect upon and appreciate the most celebrated woman in my life, I would be remiss if I didn’t double check my thank-you checklist.

Thank you, mama for:

Raising Tiffany and me the best way you knew how.

Thank you for every single word you uttered when you asked God cover and protect us, from the crown of our heads to the soles of our feet.

Thank you for demanding that we go to church and introducing us to Jesus Christ, even though we were brought up in communities that were stricken by drugs and crime.

MAKING HISTORY --- Johnson's mother, who turns 55 on Thursday, is responsible for putting her son through college. In May 2000, he became a first-generation college graduate when he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Memphis.

MAKING HISTORY — Johnson’s mother, who turns 55 on Thursday, is responsible for putting her son through college. In May 2000, he became a first-generation college graduate when he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Memphis.

Thank you for all of the free hot meals, utilities, toilet paper, soap, beds, cable television, clothes, and nightstands, even though we often acted unappreciatively and took those things for granted.

Thank you for putting me through college, helping me get a leg up in my journalism career by taking me to seminars and job fairs, and showing off every sports article I wrote, even though you do not have a fond interest in sports.

Thank you for sticking by me during a time in which I felt I was at the lowest point in my life, even though I had gone against your wishes and downplayed your wisdom.

Most importantly, thank you, mama, for being the true Woman of God you are. A woman of integrity. A woman of character. A woman of excellence. A woman of tremendous beauty. A woman of powerful influence, not to mention a woman who, as far as I’m concerned, has always made it a point to deliver on her promise.

Johnson's mother gave birth to him when she was 15 years old. Pictured is a photo when he was eight months.

Johnson’s mother gave birth to him when she was 15 years old. Pictured is a photo when he was eight months.

No doubt, 1988 was no exception. Sure, I sat in my classes on the first day of school, wearing clothes from the previous year and, looking back on it, there is something I should have learned from that, the lesson of gratification. But after going to school the second week of classes in new clothes, I’ve come to realize that your legacy, as far as I’m concerned, is that you simply wanted the best for us.

Even if it meant burning the candles at both ends.

That, after all, explains why tonight’s grand occasion makes all of the sense in the world. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

And, if the Lord’s will, we will see you back here in ten years.

DrePicAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send an email to andre@memphisport.net. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Preview: Boise State vs. Ole Miss

Texas A&M v MississippiOle Miss quarterback Bo Wallace said that his goal this year was to get the Rebels to Atlanta. Guess he can go ahead and check that off his list since the Ole Miss season opener against Boise State will be played from the Georgia Dome. Obviously Wallace meant getting the Rebs to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game, but starting the year off in the Georgia Dome for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game isn’t a bad thing.

For the majority of America, this Thursday’s ESPN matchup between the Ole Miss Rebels and the Boise State Broncos will serve as the official kickoff to the 2014 college football season. With millions of people watching, a lot is on the line for both teams. Boise State is breaking in a new coach and looking to continue their pattern of taking down the big boys while Ole Miss hopes to make the jump into the upper-tier of the SEC.

So how is this early season showdown going to shape up?

Ole Miss has the advantage on paper. With their superior talent, SEC speed on both sides of the ball, and stability with a veteran quarterback and proven SEC coach, it’s no surprise most places are picking the Rebels to win by double digits.

But Boise State thrives in games where they are labeled the underdogs. They have an underrated running back in Jay Ajayi who is coming off of a 1400-yard season and a senior quarterback, Grant Hedrick, who played well last season when his number was called midway through the year. They do have a new, young coach in Bryan Harsin who has seen success in past roles, and he’s ready to make a name for himself in his first big time gig. However it will be mighty tough to fill Chris Petersen’s shoes.

Playing the game in the Georgia Dome obviously lends itself to the Ole Miss cause. Ole Miss will travel well and Boise State will not. While it won’t be nearly to capacity, the game will feel much like an Ole Miss home game.

The biggest difference in my opinion will be the Ole Miss defensive line. (I expect to say that a lot this season.) Boise State, like Ole Miss, has a young, inexperienced offensive line. I expect the Robert Nkemdiche and C.J. Johnson to get to Hedrick often and to have pretty good success at shutting down the Boise State running game. And behind the D-line, the Rebels have an experienced crop of linebackers and a deep secondary. Coach Harsin might have to rely on some non-traditional play calls to find success against an ultra talented Rebel defense, one that many think is among the best in the SEC.

Assuming the Ole Miss defense gets the job done, the Rebels will still need to score some points. As I mentioned earlier, Ole Miss does have a thin O-line, but it is should survive against Boise State’s mediocre defensive front. The Bronco secondary is strong, but so are the Rebel receivers, led by Laquon Treadwell, who should have a nice advantage over those tasked with covering him. There will be some kinks to work out with a new crop of Rebel running backs, and Bo Wallace will likely need a few downs to get back into the swing of things. But overall I see the Ole Miss offense being just fine.

I think Boise State and Ole Miss will struggle with first game jitters early on, but expect that both teams will figure things out by the second quarter. I firmly believe that Boise State is going to find a way, despite being less talented, to make this an interesting game. Just something about Boise State doing that so many times on a big stage makes me think that this game won’t be much different.

However Ole Miss will prove to be too much in the end. I expect the Rebels to break away late in the third quarter and score a touchdown that makes this one look worse than it actually was.

Bo Wallace and Laquon Treadwell will both have big games for Ole Miss. Robert Nkemdiche will make one or two “WOW” plays and establish himself as the force to be reckoned with that many think he will be. Cody Prewitt will grab an inerception and force a fumble. Coach Freeze will let the world know the Rebels are ready for a big year.

The game will end, whether it should or not, with chants of ‘SEC. SEC. SEC” throughout the stadium.

Ole Miss 34 – Boise State 17

Warner Russell covers Ole Miss Football for MemphiSport. Read his non-sports stuff at thewiseguise.com. Follow him on Twitter @uncle_warny.

 

MSL Interview: Jim Cornette

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Legendary wrestling manager Jim Cornette joined Cerrito & Dustin Starr on MSL to talk about Memphis, Yokozuna, manager props and more.

Click here for more MSL interviews.


MemphiSport Live

Kevin Cerrito hosts MemphiSport Live (MSL) with Marcus Hunter on Sports 56 & 87.7 FM every Saturday from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm. MSL was voted 3rd Best Sports Radio Show in the 2010, 2011 & 2012 Memphis Flyer Best of Memphis poll. 

MSL Podcast: Last Saturday Before College Football 2014

msl sports ball

 

HOUR 1:

(Segment 1) Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter recap the week’s biggest stories during the Starting 5.
(Segment 2) It’s KeVinsanity when The Memphis Flyer’s  Kevin Lipe calls in for his weekly segment to talk everything Grizzlies.
(Segment 3) Preston McClellan from the Sporting News talks about NFL stadium improvements for the 2014 season. 

 

MemphiSport Live

HOUR 2:
(Segment 1) Hang Up & Listen with the winner getting a pair of tix to Playhouse on the Square and Maria Garay in studio.
(Segment 2) Legendary wrestling manager Jim Cornette joins Cerrito & Dustin Starr to talk about Memphis, Yokozuna, manager props and more.(Segment 3) Woohoos and Boos

Click here for more MSL interviews.


MemphiSport Live

Kevin Cerrito hosts MemphiSport Live (MSL) with Marcus Hunter on Sports 56 & 87.7 FM every Saturday from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm. MSL was voted 3rd Best Sports Radio Show in the 2010, 2011 & 2012 Memphis Flyer Best of Memphis poll. 

Jim Cornette scheduled for MSL Saturday

jim_cornette_3It was announced yesterday on Throwback Thursday that legendary wrestling manager and promoter Jim Cornette is scheduled to join MemphiSport Live (MSL) for an exclusive interview tomorrow – August 23rd.

Jim Cornette began his managerial career in Memphis, TN before moving on to World Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling Federation, where he managed multiple Champions.  Cornette led Midnight Express, Heavenly Bodies and even British Bulldog & Owen Hart to Tag Team Championships.  Not to mention, he managed WWF World Heavyweight Champion Yokozuna.

Along with his background as a wrestling manager, Jim Cornette also helped book WWE’s developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling.  He was also the founder and owner of Smokey Mountain Wrestling.

MSL airs live every Saturday from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm CT on on Sports 56 & 87.7 FM .  If you have any questions you’d like to discuss with Cornette, feel free to post them here or send them via Twitter@MemphiSport.  Also, be sure to follow Jim Cornette on Twitter.

Dustin Starr is an active sports entertainer and regular contributor to MemphiSport and MSL. Follow him @DustinStarr.

SEE ALSO:

2014 Ole Miss Football Preview

(Photo by Justin Ford)

(Photo by Justin Ford)

College football is finally upon us. After months of waiting, recruiting, media days, and crazy speculation, the opening kick is just days away. And the Ole Miss Football Rebels are ready to get after it.

With another nationally televised Thursday night game lined up as the season-opener, excitement from the team and the fans is high. And coming off the heels of a lackluster end to the 2013 season, Rebel Nation is hoping to start what could be a big season off with a bang.

Personally, I think this will be a breakout year for Coach Hugh Freeze and his Rebels.

So to get you prepared for all things Ole Miss Football, here are some general thoughts, a brief game-by-game breakdown, and the ever-important (never remotely correct) season prediction.

Super Sophs:

Robert Nkemdiche, Laquon Treadwell, Laremy Tunsil, and the rest of the incredible 2013 recruiting class got their feet wet last year. Treadwell was SEC Freshman of the Year and led the team in receptions (as defenses focused on now Indianapolis Colt Donte Moncrief). Tunsil had a great season on the O-line and has many people thinking that he could be the best LT in the SEC. Expectations are high for these two. But Nkemdiche is still the one on whom Rebel faithful are hanging their hope. After an up-and-down freshman campaign that saw some behavior issues on the field, some detrimental hero playing, and a modest set of stats, Nkemdiche is poised to break out. He’s measured at 6’5” and weighs in at 290 lbs. And he has a six-pack. He’s also pretty fast. Needless to say, he’s a genetic freak. In practices, the offensive line (albeit a thin one) has had a nearly impossible time containing him. Look for him to get to opposing QBs early and often. Mix these three playmakers in with the rest of the sophomore class, and you have a group of youngsters that will make their presence known in every game.

Mr. Freeze:

Coach Hugh Freeze has the Rebels on a serious upward trajectory. With an unexpected bowl win in his first season, landing the aforementioned Super Sophs, and some big victories last season capped off by another bowl win, Freeze has people down in Oxford believing. He also has a pretty good jumpstart on the Class of 2016 recruits and just flipped a big prospect from Nick Saban’s grasp. Obviously it’s early for those kids, however it still says a lot about Freeze’s ability to recruit if he can flip kids from Alabama. But despite being a recruiting mastermind and having two good seasons, fans are ready for a great season with more than one or two big wins. Rebel fans want to compete for the SEC and a lot of them think Freeze is the guy that can lead the team to Atlanta.

No Place Like Home:

This year’s schedule sets Ole Miss up for some big success. A lackluster non-conference slate should give the Rebels four relatively easy wins, and drawing Alabama and Auburn at home along with a down Tennessee team and a Mississippi State team Ole Miss badly wants revenge against makes many believe Oxford could provide some fireworks on Saturday this fall. If Ole Miss could get one or both of the games against foes from Alabama, a 10-win season is absolutely on the table. The two tough road tests are against a Johnny Football-less Texas A&M and a typically strong LSU team. The past few seasons have had some rough away games, so Ole Miss will be expected to take advantage of this friendly schedule.

Dr. Bo Knows:

Rebel QB Bo Wallace is a senior. He says he’s as healthy as he’s ever been. Coaches testify that his arm strength is back. He’s got the potential to break every Ole Miss QB record this season. So will his arm carry the Rebels to glory? Can he limit the interceptions and fumbles that have haunted him in the past? It’s crazy to think this, but Ole Miss is more stable at QB than it has been in over 10 years, so if Wallace stays healthy and controls his passes, who knows how far Ole Miss can go?

Misc.:

Transfers Damor’ea Stringfellow (WR) and Christian Morris (OL), both highly touted recruits out of high school, are awaiting decisions from the NCAA regarding their eligibility. If they end up getting to play this year, they will both be expected to contribute immediately.

The offensive line is thin. Dangerously thin. Laremy Tunsil can only do so much. This will be the weakest group for the Rebels this season. Look for freshmen and walk-ons to see plenty of time on the O-line, something Ole Miss fan never want to hear given the talent of opposing defensive lines in the SEC.

The injury bug bit Ole Miss hard last year leading up to the fall and in the first few games. And in 2014 cornerbacks Tee Shepard and Carlos Davis (also a punt return specialist) have been ruled out for the year. While the secondary is deep, both of those losses sting a good bit. Rebel faithful are all praying that these are the only big injuries the team will have to deal with this season.

Non-Conference Breakdown:

A few years ago, opening the season against Boise State would have been a death wish for Ole Miss. The Broncos made a name for themselves by dominating teams their own size and upsetting all sorts of giants around the world of college football. But with Chris Petersen coaching the University of Washington now, there’s a pretty consensus thought that Boise will not be shocking the world anytime this year. Needless to say Ole Miss is favored by double digits in their matchup, and I doubt the Broncos will travel well enough to have their fans make a difference in the always SEC friendly Georgia Dome (August 28th). The Rebs should win this one, but I expect it to be a competitive game that will be a fun way to kickoff the football season on a Thursday night.

As for the rest of the non-conference schedule, I don’t expect any scares for Ole Miss and its fans. They will be vastly superior to Louisiana-Lafayette (September 13th), Memphis (September 27th), and Presbyterian (November 8th). The Memphis game should be a fun one as it will rekindle a regional rivalry that makes for a good day in Oxford, and it will also serve as a game to honor former Rebel Chucky Mullins. If you’re unfamiliar with him, look for the SEC Network special It’s Time that will feature his story.

SEC Breakdown:

Vanderbilt – September 6th:

James Franklin is gone. Jordan Matthews is gone. New Coach Derek Mason has agreed to move the game to LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans, which will allow more Ole Miss fans to attend. Experience on the field and on the sidelines will win the game for the Rebels. Essentially being an Ole Miss home game in Nashville turns the win into a convincing one.

Alabama – October 4th:

If both teams enter this game undefeated, which I predict they will, this will be the biggest Ole Miss home game in history. It will likely host ESPN College GameDay (powered by the Home Depot), and it will be a prime opportunity for the Rebels to make a jump into the upper tier of the SEC West. Alabama will be breaking in a new QB playing in his first true road test. The Tide have had Ole Miss’ number for what feels like decades, but if Ole Miss is going to pull the upset, this is the year. A lot of media folks are picking the Rebels. So am I.

Texas A&M – October 11th:

Ole Miss will ride into College Station on a serious high after upsetting Alabama. Texas A&M will be without Johnny Manziel who orchestrated not one but two game winning drive against the Rebels over the past two seasons. But talent-wise, the Aggies will still be in good shape. And Kevin Sumlin is quickly becoming one of the best coaches in the country. This is a tossup in many people’s books. But I think Ole Miss will be a little too confident and drop this one in a heartbreaker at Kyle Field.

Tennessee – October 18th:

Coach Butch Jones has things heading in the right direction up in Knoxville, but the pieces are far from all fitting together in 2014. The Vols will come to Oxford and an angry Ole Miss team will take care of them with relative ease. Look for a younger running back to breakout in this game. And expect the Rebel defense to absolutely overwhelm Tennessee.

LSU – October 25th:

I fully expect that this will be a night game with a whole lot of hype down on the bayou. Tiger Stadium will be rocking. Two nationally ranked teams will be playing with their eyes on the SEC West crown. The world will be picking LSU, but in the wise words of Mr. Lee Corso, “Not so fast.” I think Hugh Freeze pulls some tricks out of his sleeve for this one, and the Rebels prevail.

Auburn – November 1st:

Last season’s matchup between Ole Miss and Auburn was an interesting and ugly one. Nobody expected Auburn to do what they did in 2013, and not many people predicted them to even beat Ole Miss. But nobody can deny that Gus Malzahn has things rolling down on the Plains. I expect that the Tigers will come to Oxford and take care of business. This will be the first loss the Rebels suffer at home in 2014.

Arkansas – November 22nd:

Bret Bielema had a rough first season in Fayetteville. His smash mouth style of football needs some size, and he just couldn’t make anything happen with his youngsters and Petrino’s leftover speedsters. I still think he’s a couple of years away from making any kind of noise. Rebels win easy.

Mississippi State – November 29th:

Ole Miss has one thing in mind for the Egg Bowl. Revenge. Last season ended on such a sour note for Bo Wallace and the Rebels. Fumbling the game away on the goal line. Having Dan Mullen get another whole year to gloat. Hearing all the preseason hype of a largely unproven Dak Prescott. These factors will fire Ole Miss up, and playing this one in Oxford certainly doesn’t hurt. I expect revenge to be had. Ole Miss shuts State down.

As I see it, the Rebels finish 10-2, second in the SEC West behind Alabama. Ole Miss has the breakout year they need, but fall short of Atlanta and the new College Football Playoff. Expect to see the Rebels in one of the four non-semifinal New Year’s Bowls (Orange, Cotton, Peach or Fiesta) depending on how things shake out with the new system. *

So there you have it, a season’s worth of insight and predictions. Take them with a grain of salt because we all know it only takes one game to change everything.

I’m excited to be back covering Ole Miss for MemphiSport.com. Check back in for full previews of the Boise State and Memphis match-ups as well as all of the SEC games.

*Disclaimer: The new playoff system is still confusing. But this is how I understand it: top four teams play in Sugar and Rose Bowls. Winners meet in Dallas for National Championship. Other conference obligations fill out Orange, Cotton, Peach, and Fiesta. Highest ranked available teams fill leftover slots in those four bowls. If I’m wrong about this, please feel free to correct me.

Warner Russell covers Ole Miss Football for MemphiSport. Read his non-sports stuff here. Follow him on Twitter @uncle_warny.

Throwback Thursday: Jim Cornette debuts in Memphis

Each week, we discuss all the great wrestling stars who passed through or started their careers in Memphis, TN.  We even discussed the topic with Lance Russell, last week on MSL.  Memphians were fortunate enough to wake up every Saturday morning to the best broadcasters, wrestlers, referees and even wrestling managers that pro wrestling had to offer.

Arguably, none were more outspoken than Jim Cornette.

This week’s Throwback Thursday takes us back to 1982, where a 21 year-old Jim Cornette made his debut in Memphis Wrestling.  Lance Russell conducts the interview with what appears to a much more bashful Jim Cornette than we are accustomed to.

Jim Cornette debuts in Memphis:

Cornette without his tennis racket?  Fast forward to the late 1990′s where Cornette gives his opinion on the state of the wrestling business.  This is the Cornette we all have grown to love… or hate.

Jim Cornette shoots on RAW

Many great managers have worked in Memphis – Jim Cornette is certainly high atop the list.

We are proud to announce that Jim Cornette is scheduled to join MemphiSport Live (MSL) for an exclusive interview, this Saturday August 23rd.  MSL airs live every Saturday from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm CT on on Sports 56 & 87.7 FM .  If you have any questions you’d like to discuss with Cornette, feel free to post them here or send them via Twitter@MemphiSport.  Also, be sure to follow Jim Cornette on Twitter.

Fun Facts:  Jim Cornette, also known as James E. Cornette, has a rich history within the world of professional wrestling.  He started his career in Memphis and has gone on to work with every major wrestling organization possible.  Cornette even managed WWF World Champion Yokozuna, during his run with the company.  Cornette worked for World Championship Wrestling, TNA Impact Wrestling, Ring of Honor, ran Ohio Valley Wrestling and owned Smokey Mountain Wrestling.

Dustin Starr is an active sports entertainer and regular contributor to MemphiSport and MSL. Follow him @DustinStarr.

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VIDEO: Rockey the Redbird takes ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Tonight, Rockey the Redbird accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on-field at AutoZone Park.  MSL regular Maria Garay emceed the event.  Rockey went on to nominate Sheldon from Mississippi RiverKings, Louie from Springfield Cardinals & The Redhots!

Rockey the Redbird takes ALS Ice Bucket Challenge 8.20.14:

Memphis Redbirds are in the final home-stand of the regular season.  Friday’s giveaway is a Carlos Martinez bobble head, SuperHero/Comic Night is on Saturday and Health & Fitness Night on Sunday.  Maria & I will emcee Sunday together.  Get more information at MemphisRedbirds.com.

Twitter: @DustinStarr

Ex-college majorette Setra Stevenson making presence felt as insurance agency owner

DALLAS — Growth and opportunities.

Whenever Setra Stevenson is asked why she deemed in necessary two years ago to relocate to Texas from Michigan, those are among the factors that top her list.

IMMEDIATE IMPACT --- After becoming fully licensed just two months ago, Detroit native Setra Stevenson has made her presence felt as a flourishing owner/agent for Farmers Insurance in North Dallas. (Photos submitted by S. Stevenson)

IMMEDIATE IMPACT — After becoming fully licensed just two months ago, Detroit native Setra Stevenson has made her presence felt as a flourishing owner/agent for Farmers Insurance in North Dallas. (Photos submitted by S. Stevenson)

A native of Detroit, Stevenson has gone to great lengths to ensure she savors the various benefits that come with moving to what many describe as a progressive market.

After all, like many of her peers, she’s aware they do things big in Texas.

“Texas is like No. 1 (in America) as far as like low unemployment,” Stevenson told MemphiSport during a recent interview. “But actually, when I came here, I wasn’t even thinking about insurance. I was trying to get into the schools to teach.”

To her credit, Stevenson who, like many who label Dallas an attractive, thriving market, appears to be adjusting comfortable in this, a rather unfamiliar establishment.

Aside from earning a reputation as an accomplished educator who boasts a heart of youngsters of various walks of life, Stevenson nowadays has found her niche in another ever-demanding insurance industry.

Stevenson is Owner/Agent of Farmers Insurance Setra Stevenson Agency at 15851 Dallas Parkway in Addison, an endeavor that is seemingly coming full circle for this Denton, Texas resident in such a brief time.

A former dual-sport athlete who is mostly remembered for being a majorette at Detroit’s Cooley High in the early 1990s, Stevenson also starred in softball before ultimately being offered a scholarship as a majorette to Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio.

According to Stevenson, the competitive drive that comes with sports is what essentially jumpstarted her desire to engage in a career in the insurance industry. A little more than two months removed from having becoming a full licensed owner/agent, it’s safe to assume the sky’s the limit for his energy-driven, thriving entrepreneur who has demonstrated time and again to conquer the toughest of life’s obstacles.

One moment, she’s studying countless hours an array of essential material on what it takes to embark upon a fruitful, efficient tenure in insurance. Weeks later, she is overseeing her own agency from a facility in the heart of North Dallas.

“You can have your own agency and have your own building or you can have your own office,” Stevenson said. “But a lot of people don’t (want their own building) right off.”

Considering she has enjoyed success as agency owner in such a brief timespan, Stevenson said she relishes the fact that even while contemplating pursuing a career in education during which she worked for the Fort Worth Independent School District, she elected not to teach on a full-time basis. Among the reasons is that even while managing and overseeing an insurance agency, she makes it home in time to spend with her children.

“My passion has always been education,” said Stevenson, a mother of three who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Management in 2007 and a master’s in Business Management in 2009 from the University of Phoenix. “My heart is there, but when I got (to Dallas), I was the only (parent) in the house. As a single parent now, I have to think about the money because I have mouths to feed.”

RAISING THE BAR --- To her credit, Stevenson who, like many who label Dallas an attractive, thriving market, appears to be adjusting comfortable in this, a rather unfamiliar establish.

RAISING THE BAR — To her credit, Stevenson who, like many who label Dallas an attractive, thriving market, appears to be adjusting comfortable in this, a rather unfamiliar establish.

Aside from running her agency and tending to the needs of her family, among the attributes Stevenson — whose daughter is enrolled at the University of North Texas and son attends  North Central Texas College — makes certain to demonstrate is having a heart for people.

In other words, part of rapid success is because her reputation is such that she establishes authentic relationships with her clients.

“I never want to come across as a salesperson,” Stevenson said. “I want my clients to feel comfortable. I want to build a relationship with them. If you get a salesperson who never met with the client, there’s no relationship. I don’t want people to be discouraged. That’s something I said I didn’t want to do. I don’t want anybody to sale me something and I don’t hear from them.”

In assessing her brief time in the Lone Star state since she left Michigan, Stevenson strongly contends delving off into the insurance business was an opportunity worth taking.

A golden opportunity, that is.

“It’s a company that has tremendous growth where you can come in and within a year, you can have your agency.”

What a difference two months have made for this former college majorette.

Thanks in large part to the growth and opportunities.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information on Farmers Insurance Setra Stevenson Agency, call her office at 972-726-0544, contact her via mobile at 817-995-6755, or log on to www.setrastevenson.com. Also, send email to sstevenson@farmersagent.com.

DrePicAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send an email to andre@memphisport.net. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.