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By Ryne Hancock
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Former Miss State quarterback Matt Wyatt wears many hats around the Magnolia State and is the host of Mississippi’s top morning sports radio show.

Last season, Mississippi State played in a New Year’s Day bowl for the first time since 1998-99, when they lost to Texas in the Cotton Bowl.

The Bulldogs’ 52-14 thrashing of Michigan in the Gator Bowl marked the first time since State’s 1941 SEC championship season in which the Bulldogs won a New Year’s Day bowl.

Matt Wyatt, who is currently the host of “First Call”, rated as Mississippi’s #1 morning sports talk show, was quarterback of that 1998-99 squad that reached the SEC Championship Game by winning the SEC West as well as the aforementioned Cotton Bowl.

The Prattville, Alabama native, Wyatt chose the Bulldogs over Florida State and Auburn among schools after high school graduation in 1995.

“I wanted to be somewhere where I knew I could play right away,” he said, “Not only that Prattville was three hours away from Starkville, meaning I could hop on Highway 82 and be at home in Prattville in no time.”

After redshirting his freshman year, Wyatt was plugged in as quarterback, helping the Bulldogs to a 5-6 record in 1996.

In 1997, the Bulldogs in his sophomore year would finish 7-4 and tied for 3rd in the SEC West, laying the groundwork for arguably the best two-year stretch in modern Mississippi State history.

“Coach Sherrill made us believe that we were capable of beating anyone, regardless of venue,” he said, “It didn’t matter if we were facing Ole Miss, LSU, Auburn, or Alabama, we just knew that we weren’t going to bow to anyone on the field.”

In 1998, Wyatt split time with Wayne Madkin at quarterback and led the Bulldogs to a share of the SEC West Division title, giving the Bulldogs its first SEC championship of any kind since 1941.

“It was a great accomplishment,” Wyatt said, “To have a chance to play for an SEC Championship is what every player in the conference dreams of doing.”

The Bulldogs would find themselves on the short end of the stick in the SEC title game, losing to the eventual national champion Tennessee Volunteers 24-14, relegating them to the Cotton Bowl where they would run into Ricky Williams.

“Our defense just couldn’t find an answer for Ricky,” he said, “We felt bad losing two straight to close the season. But it motivated us to succeed in 1999.”

In 1999, the Bulldogs rolled off to an 8-0 start, being ranked as high as #11 in the country.

“We had the leadership and mentality that we could build on what we did as a team the previous year. With most of those players back from the 1998 team, we knew deep down we were the best team in the SEC West.”

The 1999 team would finish with a record of 10-2, the most wins for State since 1941.

After graduation, Wyatt played one year of professional football and later on became sports information director at Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville. “It was a privilege to work there. To this day, I’m still friends with many of the people there in Booneville.”

Today, Wyatt doubles as an ambassador for the City of Tupelo, where he is the director of sports development as well a pre and postgame show host for Mississippi State football broadcasts.

“Tupelo is a great place to live. Having deep roots in North Mississippi, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here,” he said.

Ryne Hancock – Ryne Hancock grew up in Memphis as a huge LSU football fan in the middle of UT country. After surviving high school and then graduating community college with an associate’s degree in Social Work, he is currently the host of the “The Afternoon Zoo” on CBU’s Pirate Radio. While he is an LSU fan at heart, his columns will focus on UT and Vanderbilt as well as the recruiting wars in the Volunteer State. You can follow him on Twitter at

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