MSU's Smoot ineligible for bowl

By Staff
Dec. 22, 2000
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) Mississippi State All-America cornerback Fred Smoot has been declared academically ineligible and will not play in the Independence Bowl game against Texas A&M on New Year's Eve.
Smoot, a senior, failed to meet Southeastern Conference standards by not passing at least 50 percent of the minimum hours required for full-time student-athletes.
I feel bad,'' Smoot said Wednesday. I let more than just myself down, I let my teammates, coaches and Mississippi State down. But it's all about education first and then football. And you can't have one without the other.''
Smoot said he was one class short.
I thought I had everything under control,'' he said. But I came up short.''
We regret that Fred won't be with us,'' said football coach Jackie Sherrill. I especially regret it for Fred. At the same time, I applaud the SEC Presidents for taking the stand they did, which parallels the importance we place on academics.
The fact is, you have to get a degree. It's more important to go to school and get a degree than to play in a bowl game,'' he said.
Smoot, 6-foot-1, and 179-pounds, was a two-time All-SEC pick, a first-team Associated Press All-American, and one of three finalists for the Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation's top defensive back.
He led the Bulldogs with five interceptions this season, to go along with 55 tackles, 19 pass break ups, 2 tackles for loss and a blocked PAT.
In 23 consecutive starts, he piled up 112 tackles and 10 interceptions, good for a tie for fifth on the Bulldogs' all-time interceptions list.
In Smoot's absence, Sherrill said senior Eugene Clinton, or juniors Shawn Byrdsong or Marco Minor will start at right cornerback against the Aggies.
Smoot said he hasn't decided if he'll attend the Independence Bowl yet.
It's real hard to watch,'' he said. I haven't sat out of a game since 10th grade. But it's not over for me academically. I still plan to graduate from Mississippi State. I'll be back in the spring. Sometimes you can't fix your mistakes; this one I can.''