It quickly became clear that Vice Chancellor of Collegiate Athletics Ross Bjork couldn’t say exactly what he was thinking when he spoke to a pool of reporters regarding SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey calling a meeting with Bjork and Mississippi State athletics director John Cohen regarding the fight in Thursday’s Egg Bowl loss to the Bulldogs, and the state of the rivalry as a whole.
“It is clear and evident why the rivalry took this wrong term,” Bjork said. “I cannot wait for that meeting. They haven’t told me when it is going to be scheduled yet. I have a long list. I can’t wait to stand up for our university and student athletes.
What is on that list?
“There are a lot of things,” Bjork said. “You see the same things I see. Once we get into that meeting and are able to discuss specifics… that list is being developed as we speak.”
Bjork said he has never seen this kind of meeting called in his time working in college athletics. He acknowledged the rivalry has gone off the rails and needs a different tone. He reiterated he was looking forward to the meeting to stand up for the school. Bjork didn’t get into specifics, but one can deduct he is referring to the immunity testimony given by Mississippi State linebacker Leo Lewis at Ole Miss’ NCAA Committee On Infractions Hearing in September of 2017, as well as Mississippi State’s perceived role in investigation as a whole.
Lewis’ testimony that day aired the dirty laundry in the rivalry as well as the underbelly of the recruiting world in major college football. It has taken the rivalry to another level in terms of vitriol and that spilled over in a third quarter brawl on Thanksgiving and more scuffling that involved coaches and administrators after the final whistle blew. Bjork has pondered the idea of bringing the coaches as well as administrators together to find a solution.
“I have talked about this concept for a little while, but it never really got off the ground,” Bjork said. “Maybe they are a part of it at some point in time, but I think it has to start off with the leadership not only in athletics, but perhaps with the university.”
Bjork acknowledged what he will say to Commissioner Sankey will not be the first time he has conveyed the message.
“We are going to fight for this university and defend it,” Bjork said. “That is my number one priority and that is where we have to leave that right now.”