When Shout-Outs Go Wrong

By Stephen C. Smith Sr.
Updated: November 20, 2006

IRVING, Texas – When your university has produced just two NFL prospects in the entire history of its football program, it’s apparently a big deal if one of those players forgets to acknowledge their alma mater.

Indianapolis Colts running back Dominic Rhodes recently found out just how big a deal it can be.

After hailing himself from Abilene (Texas) Cooper High School – instead of Midwestern State University – during player introductions prior to the Colts-New York Giants season-opener, Rhodes’ shout-out to his high school blossomed from a perceived slight to local controversy.

“It was nothing against Midwestern,” Rhodes said after the Colts’ 21-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday. “I represent my high school too and I was just giving them some props. I guess some people thought I was downing Midwestern, but I love MSU.”

“They gave me the opportunity both to play and to get here.”

Curiously, Midwestern State’s football history spans only 36 seasons since 1924. Just in case you’re confused by the math, the total excludes the 46 seasons during which the school didn’t field a team.

As a by-product, Rhodes and San Francisco 49ers free-agent wide receiver Bryan Gilmore are the only current NFL players – well, the only period – to have spent their collegiate days in Wichita Falls.

Local reaction to the comment ranged from “another big-time player who forgot where he came from,” all the way to “ingrate.” There was even a theory that Rhodes’ MSU omission dealt with his opinion that the university had passed over his mentor for a coaching position.

None of which turned out to be true.

“I made sure to say, ‘Midwestern State University’ the last time I got the chance to,” Rhodes said. “I’m not trying to start any problems – as a matter of fact, I was thinking about coming back to Wichita Falls in the off-season and doing a football camp there if I can.”

Things are looking for Midwestern though.

The Mustangs (formerly the Indians in Rhodes’ day) won their opening-round NCAA Div. II playoff game last Saturday, 28-26 over Missouri Western.

This marks MSU’s second trip to the playoffs since joining Div. II in 1997, but is also its second trip since 2004.

“That’s what I’m talking about – I’m liking that,” Rhodes said. “That’s where it’s at and I’d like to give those boys a big high-five for doing so well. I haven’t had a chance to get back there, but I did try to get in contact with coach (Bill) Maskill earlier last week.”

Now that the controversy – no matter how small – is over, Rhodes plans to return to Wichita Falls in the off-season for a football camp geared at middle and high school players.

“Make sure to tell everyone in Wichita Falls that I have love for them and to keep rooting and praying for me,” Rhodes said. “Hopefully, I’ll be back there to do the camp this summer.”

Just don’t forget to give them their props.